Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 18-25, 2024

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a response to Christ's prayer “that they all may be one" (John 17:21). It is an eight-day period of prayer in which all Christians are invited to participate. The week is celebrated each year from January 18-25, concluding on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.


Each year, a different theme is chosen for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme for 2024 is "You shall love the Lord your God...and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). Taken from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the theme reflects the connection between love of God and love of neighbor with a particular concern for challenging the boundaries of who is considered "neighbor."

The theme was chosen by an ecumenical team from Burkina Faso, facilitated by the Chemin Neuf Community, a French Catholic and ecumenical community of vowed members and laypeople. The population of Burkina Faso is approximately 64% Muslim, 20% Catholic, 9% traditional African religions, and 6% Protestant. The country is experiencing a serious security crisis, which has included terrorist attacks and abduction and human trafficking. The theme reflects a confidence that God's love will overcome the violence and that the love of Christ that unites all Christians is stronger than the divisions that separate them.

Biblical Text

"He said in reply,  'You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.'"

A Message from Bishop Deeley

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an opportunity to ask God to help Christian Churches seek common ground and appreciation for each other. Prayer is the key which opens our hearts to Christ’s desire for unity. In opening ourselves to prayer, we remember that we share a common baptism and faith in the Trinity. Our practice of faith begins in our shared appreciation for Scripture as the Word of God where we encounter the saving truth of Jesus.

In this, we are reminded of an important teaching of Pope Benedict XVI: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea but the encounter with an event, a Person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” That person is, of course, Jesus. Our common witness to our faith in him calls us to work together on those issues that unite us: caring for the sick, the needy, migrants, and refugees, and confronting religious persecution. Through these shared experiences, the discovery of further common ground can come to pass. This week, remember the truth that as disciples of Jesus, we seek to follow him in doing the will of the Father. Together.


The history of the week dates back to late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1894, Pope Leo XIII encouraged the practice of a Prayer Octave for Unity and encouraged Catholics to recite the Rosary for the intention of Christian unity. A little more than a decade later, two Americans, Father Paul James Wattson and Sister Lurana White, co-founders of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, started a prayer movement to pray for the return of non-Catholic Christians to the Holy See. The two were Episcopalians who converted to Catholicism. In 1907, a conversation between Father Wattson and an English clergyman, Reverend Spencer Jones, led Reverend Jones to suggest that a day be set aside for prayer for Christian unity. Father Wattson agreed but proposed an octave of prayer between the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair on January 18 and the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on January 25.  The first "Church Unity Octave" was observed in 1908. After Father Wattson and Sister Lurana became Catholic, Pope Pius X gave his blessing to the Church Unity Octave, and in 1916, Pope Benedict XV extended its observance to the universal Church.

While the Catholic Church adopted the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it was Abbé Paul Couturier, a priest of the Archdiocese of Lyons in France, who, in 1935, helped extend its reach to other Christian faiths. He promoted a "Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" on the basis that it was the Lord's will - “Our Lord would grant to his Church on earth that peace and unity which were in his mind and purpose, when, on the eve of his Passion, he prayed that all might be one.” It was a successful way of uniting all Christians in the same prayer.

Prayer for the Week

We pray, O gracious Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that we all may be one as you are one. In your community of complete unity, we have our beginning and our end. To you we pray, asking for the gift of visible unity among all who believe in your Christ.

As we commemorate this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are reminded by your Word that all human beings are our neighbors and that we are to love them like ourselves and in the same way we love you. Help us to overcome the barriers and divisions we have nurtured against your will.

Grant to us, O Lord, a new Spirit of love and solidarity, that we may proclaim your good news to all of creation. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirt are one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer for Day One of the Week

God of life, You have created us to have life, and life in all its fullness. May we recognize in our brothers and sisters their desire for eternal life. As we follow Jesus’ way with determination, may we lead others to you. We pray in his name. Amen.


Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (External Link)

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

Theme for 2024 (External Link)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Daily Prayers and Meditations (USCCB)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Resource Guide (English)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Resource Guide (Arabic)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Resource Guide (French)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Resource Guide (German)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Resource Guide (Italian)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Resource Guide (Portuguese)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Resource Guide (Spanish)

World Council of Churches