“Onward with the Great Commission” - European evangelicals kick off annual week of prayer

By CDI Staff |
EEA Week of Prayer 2024

On Sunday, January 14, Evangelical Alliances across Europe kicked off the annual Week of Prayer where local churches from diverse denominational backgrounds come together each year to pray for greater unity in the body of Christ. Marking the 50th anniversary since the historic International Congress on World Evangelization held in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974, this year’s prayer material features reflections on the Lausanne Covenant and its continued relevance today.

“Evangelicals are Good News People, and we readily share the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone and yearn to make disciples of all nations,” European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) co-General Secretaries Jan Wessels and Connie Main Duarte write in their introduction to this year’s prayer guide. “That is why they are also prayer-warriors. 50 years of the Lausanne movement within the evangelical family have taught us that we cannot be witnesses of Jesus Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Called by a committee headed by the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, the global congress in 1974 brought together some 2,700 participants from 150 nations. The gathering produced the Lausanne Covenant, a declaration of evangelical beliefs and a commitment to renewed focus on the Great Commission.

“We are deeply stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by the unfinished task of evangelization. We believe the gospel is God’s good news for the whole world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ’s commission to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation,” the covenant stated at that time.

It concluded by declaring: “Therefore, in the light of this our faith and our resolve, we enter into a solemn covenant with God and with each other, to pray, to plan and to work together for the evangelization of the whole world.”

Inspired to renew the same commitment today, the EEA themed this year’s week of prayer material ‘Onward with the Great Commission.’

“50 years later, this International Week of Prayer of the European Evangelical Alliance gives us the opportunity to reconsider the Covenant, wanting to fuel the movement of fidelity to the Gospel and the passion for mission. With the same ‘spirit’ of humility and contrition that characterized Lausanne, we want to pray and commit ourselves to being together on a mission to respond to the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus, revisiting the articles that make up the Lausanne Covenant,” Wessels and Duarte comment.

The week of prayer itself is a tradition that goes back to the year after the founding of the World Evangelical Alliance in London in 1846 and continues to be observed today in many countries across Europe. The EEA commissions a different national Evangelical Alliance each year to prepare a prayer guide that is then translated and, in some cases, adapted to the contexts in other countries.

This year’s material was prepared by the Italian Evangelical Alliance with daily reflections on topics from the Lausanne Covenant, such as the triune God, submission to the Word of God, Jesus Christ - the one and only, the holistic gospel, unity in mission, the cost of discipleship, perseverance, and finally a determination to continue with the Great Commission. It also references the upcoming global congress in Seoul, Korea, which marks the 4th global congress of the Lausanne Movement.

Among the groups that translated and adapted the material are the German speaking Evangelical Alliances in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

In Germany alone, some 300,000 believers in around 1,000 cities, towns and villages are expected to participate again this year. The country has a special appreciation for the week of prayer as it was the only activity the Evangelical Alliance in Germany continued without interruption even during the communist era in Eastern Germany.

In comments to German evangelical magazine Pro, the head of the Evangelical Alliance in Germany Reinhard Schink called the week of prayer “a signal of hope for our country.” Germany is in need for “a sign of God’s love, reconciliation and unity in this time of strife, upheaval and all the enormous social challenges,” he said, and added that prayer can “become a powerful impulse for change and bring about positive developments.”

"Especially in these times of social challenges, the prayer of Christians to the God of peace is more necessary than ever before and a safe anchor for many people," said Schink. God admonishes his people to unity, which he brought into the world through Jesus Christ. "This does not mean having the same opinion on all issues but remaining united in all differences."

Prayer material in various languages, including YouVersion study plans, is available on the EEA's website at https://www.europeanea.org/week-of-prayer/week-of-prayer-2024/.