What Is The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children?
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children brings people together to pray and take action for the well-being of children on Universal Children’s Day (20 November) every year. Universal Children’s Day, established by the United Nations in 1954, also commemorates the 1989 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. For over 55 years, governments have celebrated Universal Children’s Day on the 20th of November to promote the well-being of children.
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children envisions a world in which all children have a joyous childhood: where they can play, learn and grow, where they are loved and cared for, where their health and safety are protected and where their gender is not a liability – a world in which their human rights are protected and fulfilled.
The well- being of children is at the heart of all religious traditions and teachings. Therefore, we begin with ceremonies to bless and safeguard their present and future – which will also protect humanity. As an African proverb says, “Children are the elders of tomorrow.”
Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is essential for protecting their rights to survival, growth and development. As the world makes progress in this, the United Nations Secretary General reminds us of the following:
Violence against children erodes the foundation children need for leading healthy and productive lives. Exposure to violence during childhood can lead to a broad range of cognitive, emotional, mental and physical problems. Violence and in particular, violence against children, is a major threat to global development and an obstacle to our progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. For example:
- We will not achieve universal primary education unless children are safe in school.
- We will not reduce infant mortality when early marriage results in a higher risk of infant deaths.
- We will not halt the spread of HIV/AIDS until we also stop the violence against girls that helps to fuel the pandemic.
- Violence against children is a major obstacle to gender equality.
- Violence against children adversely impacts economic development by degrading the contribution of affected children to their communities and countries.
By working with the world‘s diverse faith communities, governments and non-governmental organizations can accelerate and magnify their efforts to help children worldwide. All of the world‘s major faith traditions share a common concern for the welfare of children. In many places, faith-based organizations are the best way to reach the most vulnerable populations.
Working together, governments, secular and faith- based organizations can have a greater impact on issues affecting child welfare than organizations working alone. Spirituality inspires our action for children: that is our fundamental conviction in this work. In fact, our combination of prayer and action makes the day unique. How can we, after all, as people of faith and goodwill, do one without the other? On this day, let us reflect on the teachings of our religious traditions concerning children. This can take the form of prayer, worship, silence or meditation.
Prayer for the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children from Brazil
Lord of Life, may our children be as You wish!
May our faith be of help in the quest for more dignity and quality of life for the children of our community and city, in Brazil and in the world.
Lord, the idolatry of wealth is a threat to peace in many places. Our planet is exploited and polluted ever more, and the children are the first to suffer when selfishness takes over people’s hearts.
Give us courage to change this story!
Help us fight against the causes of poverty, injustice and oppression of children and their families.
Give us strength to prevent girls and boys today from being exploited and forced to work, getting involved with drugs, sleeping and awaking with hunger and thirst, not having a school in which to study and a safe space in which to play, and dying for preventable reasons.
We want the well-being of children and respect for their rights. We will protect them during their entire life, which is sacred. May Your spirit enlighten us to care for children, beginning in their mother’s womb, and to guarantee their rights of citizenship. May they receive vaccines and breast milk, adequate nourishment, clean water and opportunities to develop fully.
Lord of Life, together with our children, with a single voice, we are grateful for all the good that has come from so many people of good will. Our strength is in You, who takes us to action to build a world in which children may have life, and have it abundantly! Amen!
First celebrated in 2008, more than 9,000 people in 29 cities in 22 countries participated in the World Day in 2009. In 2010, the World Day was celebrated in 47 countries through 69 events with more than 33,000 participants from around the world.