Christians around the globe gathered on Pentecost Sunday in stadiums, auditoriums, churches, homes, and some in secret places, to pray for the healing and blessing of their nations and the world.
From the United States to India to Singapore to South Africa, Christians from various denominations met in their churches or held dedicated gatherings to pray together on the Global Day of Prayer, which coincided this year with the day of Pentecost on May 19.
Brookside Free Methodist Church in Redlands, Calif., had prepared prayer cards, each featuring a different country for all participants, focusing on countries where Christians are persecuted, according to the church's website. They also prayerfully considered increasing the church's involvement in missions.
In Columbia, S.C., at least seven churches hosted the GDOP.
In India, thousands of Christians gathered at the Thyagraj Stadium in New Delhi "to seek the face of the Lord unitedly."
In Singapore, Methodist, Baptist and evangelical churches held GDOP events in at least seven languages, including Filipino, Mandarin, Korean and Thai.
"As at the first Pentecost, we'll worship God openly in Christ's name and pray for the healing and blessing of the nations. As much as possible, we are seeking to gather in places beyond the walls of our church buildings," said the GDOP's global website.
The purpose of the GDOP is to ask the Lord "to forgive our sins, for the restoration of the Church, and for the healing of the nations."
Many churches started on May 9, praying night and day throughout the 10 days leading to the Global Day of Prayer. Many formed prayer chains to build bonfires of 24-hours-a-day prayer. Others met for an hour or two of focused prayer. Some fasted.
From May 20 to Aug. 17, a "90 Days of Blessing" will follow the GDOP as an opportunity "to challenge the youth and children to go to the neglected places to pray and serve."
GDOP provided prayer guides in different languages.
A prayer for the Pentecost Sunday read, "Transform Your Church into the image of Jesus Christ. Release Your power to bring healing to the sick, freedom to the oppressed and comfort to those who mourn. Fill us with compassion for the homeless and the hungry for orphans, widows and the elderly. Give us wisdom and insight for our world's problems to use the resources of the earth for the well-being of all."
"…Remove the veil of darkness that covers the peoples. Restrain the evil that promotes violence and death. Deliver us from demonic oppression. Break the hold of slavery, tyranny and disease. Help us to tear down strongholds and ideologies that resist the knowledge of God."
The GDOP also helps raise awareness about Christian persecution around the world. Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom and a Hudson Institute Fellow in the United States, said Saturday that "religious persecution is the gravest human rights crisis of our day."
"Christians are as a group the most persecuted, out of sheer numbers, across the world. This means they are being killed, tortured, imprisoned and eradicated ...sent into exile for their beliefs," breitbart.com quoted her as saying.
"This is happening in three types of countries," she said. "Those with a remnant Communist country, like North Korea and China, some nationalist countries like Burma and Eritrea, and then in the Muslim world ...where Islamism is on the rise."
The GDOP began in South Africa with a Day of Repentance and Prayer in July 2000 when God captured the heart of a South African Christian businessman, Graham Power, with a vision based on 2 Chronicles 7: 14: "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
On Pentecost Sunday on May 15, 2005, Christians from 156 nations united across denominational and cultural borders for the first Global Day of Prayer.