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Day 1: Pray always (Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5: 17))
Is 55:6-9 - Seek the Lord while he may be found Ps 34 - I sought the Lord, and he answered me
1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 - Pray without ceasing Lk 18:1-8 - To pray always and not to lose heart

Commentary: What does it mean to pray without ceasing? We find insights to answer this question in today’s readings. Our whole lives are to be a seeking of the Lord, convinced that in seeking, we shall find.

As Christians in search of unity, we reflect on these readings to find “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. It is Christ who lives within us. Our call to pray without ceasing becomes part of his eternal intercession to the Father: “that all may be one, ... that the world may believe...”. The unity we seek is unity ‘as Christ wills’ and the ‘octave’ observance of Christian prayer for unity reflects the biblical notion of completion, that some day our prayer will be answered.

Prayer: Lord of unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we pray without ceasing that we may be one, as you are one. Father, hear us as we seek you. Christ, draw us to the unity which is your will for us. Spirit, may we never lose heart. Amen.

Day 2: Pray always, trusting God alone. (Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5: 18))
1 Kings 18:20-40 - The Lord indeed is God Ps 23 - The Lord is my shepherd
1 Thess 5: (12a)13b-18 - Give thanks in all circumstances Jn 11:17-44 - Father, I thank you for having heard me

Commentary: Praying is rooted in the trust that God is powerful and faithful. His word is credible and truthful. We may find circumstances that may be difficult, even turbulent. We may have moments of despair and resignation. Sometimes we feel that God is hidden. But he is not absent. He will manifest his power to liberate in the midst of human struggle. Thus we give thanks to him in all circumstances.

The ecumenical pilgrimage is a way in which we realize the wondrous deeds of God. Christian communities which have been separated from each other come together. They discover their unity in Christ and come to understand that they are each part of one church and need one another. Our continuous praying sustains us as we look to God and trust in him. We are confident that he is still at work in us and will lead us to the light of his victory. His kingdom begins with our reconciliation and growing unity.

Prayer: God of all creation, hear your children as we pray. Help us keep our faith and trust in you. Teach us to give thanks in all circumstances, relying on your mercy. Give us truth and wisdom, that your church may arise to new life in one fellowship. You alone are our hope. Amen.


Day 3: Pray without ceasing for the conversion of hearts (Admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted (1Thess 5 : 14))
Jon 3: 1-10 - The repentance of Nineveh Ps 51: 8-15 - Create a pure heart in me
1 Thess 5: (12a)13b-18 - Encourage the faint-hearted Mk 11: 15-17 - A house of prayer

Commentary: Why hide the fact? If divisions between Christians exist, it is also through a lack of will to be committed to ecumenical dialogue and even, simply, to prayer for unity. In the course of the last century, we have not been lacking in prophets of unity who have made Christians aware of the unfaithfulness manifest in our divisions and reminding them of the urgency of reconciliation.

In the image of the vigorous intervention of Jesus in the temple, the call to Christian reconciliation can seriously call into question our narrow self-understanding. We too have a great need of purification. We need to know how to rid our hearts of all that prevents them from being a true house of prayer, concerned for the unity of all peoples.

Prayer: Lord you desire truth deep-down within us: in the secret of our hearts, you teach us wisdom. Teach us to encourage each other along the road to unity. Show us the conversion necessary for reconciliation. Give to each of us a new, truly ecumenical heart, we pray you. Amen.


Day 4: Pray always for justice (See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all (1 Thess 5: 15))
Ex 3: 1-12 - God hears the cry of the Israelites Ps 146 - The Lord…secures justice for the oppressed
1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 - See that none of you repays evil for evil Mt 5: 38-42 - Offer no resistance to one who is evil

Commentary: Together as God’s people, we are called to pray for justice. God hears the cry of the oppressed, the needy, the orphan and the widow. God is a God of justice and answers with his Son, Jesus Christ, who commands us to work together in unity through peace and not through violence.

Christians pray without ceasing for justice, that every single human person will be treated with dignity and given a fair share in this world. God heard and responded to the cries of the Israelites. God continues to hear and respond to the cries of all who are oppressed.

It is only as we hear and respond to the cries of the oppressed that we can move forward together on the road to unity. This also applies to the ecumenical movement, where we may be required to “go the extra mile” in our willingness to listen to one another, reject vindictiveness and act in charity.

Prayer: Lord God, you created humanity, male and female, in the divine image. May we pray without ceasing and with one mind and heart that those who are hungry in our world will be nourished, that those who are oppressed will be freed, that all human persons will be treated with dignity; and may we be your instruments in making this yearning a reality. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Day 5: Pray constantly with a patient heart (Be patient with all of them (Thess 5: 14))
Ex 17: 1-4 - Why? Ps 1 - Yield fruit in its season
1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 - Be patient with all of them Lk 18: 9-14 - A humble prayer

Commentary: We cannot be complacent about the divisions between Christians and we are rightly impatient for the day of our reconciliation to come about. But we must also be conscious that ecumenical effort is not sustained at the same rhythm everywhere. Some go forward in leaps and bounds, others are more prudent. As Paul exhorts, we must be patient with everybody.

Let us stay confident. God responds to our prayers, in his own way and his own time. He will create new ways, to meet today’s needs, of bringing Christians together.

Prayer: Lord, make us your disciples, attentive to your Word, day and night. On our journey towards unity, give us hope for fruit in due season. When prejudices and suspicion seem to dominate, we pray you, give us the humble patience necessary for reconciliation. Amen.


Day 6: Pray always for grace to work with God (Rejoice always, pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5: 16))
2 Sam 7: 18-29 - David’s prayer of praise and rejoicing Ps 86 - Incline your ear, O Lord
1 Thess 5:(12a) 13b-18 - Rejoice always Lk 10: 1-24 - The sending of the seventy-two

Commentary: In prayer we are aligning our wills to the will of God and so participating in the fulfillment of his purpose. We need the Holy Spirit to change the hearts of believers, so that we have the grace to work with God and become part of his mission and his goal of unity. As we pray for this without ceasing we are aware that “more workers are needed for the harvest”. We need more workers to experience the joy of praying to be part of the work of God.

God’s will is for his people to be one. Like the Christians in Thessalonika, we are urged to “rejoice always” and “pray without ceasing”, trusting that as we commit ourselves wholly to working with God, his purpose of unity will finally be fulfilled.

Prayer: Lord God, in the perfect unity of your being, keep our hearts so burning with the desire and hope for unity that we will never stop working for the sake of your gospel. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Day 7: Pray for what we need (help the weak (1 Thess 5: 14))
1 Sam 1: 9-20 - Hannah prays for a son Ps 86 - Listen to my cry of supplication
1 Thess 5: (12a)13b-18 - We urge you…to help the weak Lk 11: 5-13 - Ask and it will be given you

Commentary: The power of prayer is immense, especially when linked to service. We do not find it impossible to respond ecumenically in a practical way to people’s weakness or distress; churches of different traditions often work hand in hand. But their witness in some situations is seriously weakened by their division, and when we want to pray together, we are sometimes deeply suspicious of the different prayer forms we encounter in Christian traditions other than our own: Roman Catholic prayers which are addressed to God through the saints or Mary the mother of Jesus; Orthodox liturgical prayers; Pentecostal prayers; the spontaneous, Protestant prayers which address God in direct, everyday language.

Without doubt, confidence in the power of prayer is common to all our traditions and has rich potential to further the cause of Christian unity – once we can understand and overcome our differences. We should give prayerful support to the dialogues which seek to address those differences among our churches and which prevent us from coming together at the Lord’s table. Praying together that prayer of remembrance and thanksgiving would allow a great stride to be taken along the road to unity.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be truly one in praying for the healing of our world, for the mending of divisions in our churches, and of ourselves. May we not doubt that you hear and will answer us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Day 8: Pray always that they all may be one. (Be at peace (I Thess 5:13b))
Is 11: 6-13 - The wolf shall live with the lamb Ps 122 - Peace be within your walls
1 Thess 5: (12a) 13b-18 - Be at peace among yourselves Jn 17: 6-24 - That they all may be one

Commentary: God’s desire for human beings is that we live in peace with one another. This peace is not only an absence of war or conflict; the shalom desired by God is that which arises from a reconciled humanity, a human family which participates in and embodies the peace which God alone can give. While this shalom is not something that we can create on our own, we are called to be instruments of the Lord’s peace. Peace, like unity, is a gift and a calling.

As we mark the 100th anniversary of the Octave/Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrating it within the context of the yearnings, prayers and initiatives for the unity of Christians through the centuries, we do well to take stock of where we are on this Spirit-led journey. What then shall we say? There is reason to rejoice, and cause for sorrow, to give thanks, to recommit ourselves, and it is a time to ponder again what it means to pray always, through our words and deeds, through the lives of our churches.

Prayer: Lord, make us one: one in our words, that a single reverent prayer might rise before you; one in our yearning and pursuit of justice; one in love, serving you by serving the least of our sisters and brothers; one in longing for your face. Lord, make us one in you. Amen



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