“The great day of prayer"

“The great day of prayer" is a specifically Danish festival, on the 4th Friday after Easter Sunday. It was established in 1686 to replace several minor festivals of prayer and fasting. One of the brothers was in Denmark for the occasion.

The five day visit was prepared by a young people’s group called “ecumenical youth”. Prayers, Bible introductions and meetings took place in five cities during the weekend during which all over the country people were celebrating “the great day of prayer”.

Even though the state Church remains strong throughout the country and important traditions of faith persist, many young people are looking for new ways to live their faith in daily life. This search, even very arduous, has become particularly apparent in Aalborg in the North West of the country. A young pastor and a group of young adults asked themselves the question what it can mean to live together as Christians: What importance should be given to prayer? How can fraternal relations be lived out over a longer period? How to welcome one another and listen to one another? How to approach other people, even people far apart from the Church? And what elements of monastic life could we translate in our daily life in order to express our desire for communion with God? From these questions there sprang up a project of a common life between students and young professional people.

The Friday was the actual “great day of prayer”. To commemorate it in Odense, there were prayers and meetings. This is the birthplace of the great writer Hans Christian Anderson who, having grown up in poverty and suffered much in his youth, became one of the best known and most loved artists of his country. In the evening, the prayer brought together people of all generations.

In Copenhagen, a group of young people meets regularly in the back room of a café to pray, sing and read the Bible together. Their aim is to go to meet young people where they are. In the afternoon the Bible introduction was based on the call that God addresses to each of us, and the fact that this call can reach us wherever we are.

In the Cathedral of Copenhagen, and in several other churches and in other cities, there exists a “night church”. The expression means churches that stay open until late in the evening. All those who wish can come to pray in silence, without feeling they are “on show”. The light is dim; people come and go as they please. From time to time a time of prayer together is offered. So, this Sunday, a beautiful prayer with songs from Taizé was the high point of the evening. The prayer was kept up by a group of young people and a choir from the cathedral.

Last updated: 3 June 2006