World Health Day is observed each year on 7 April. This year the theme was My Health, My Right,” which reminds us to advocate for equitable access to health services and work towards a healthier, more inclusive world. 

Rev. Dr Stavros Kofinas, moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on Health and Healing, offered an introduction to the prayer. 

It is our hope that, in offering our prayers today, as those who are members of the Body of Christ, that we will offer consolation to the millions of people throughout the world who are suffering in illness; that this world will become more attuned to the needs for accessible, proper, and humane medical care, and healthy living conditions,” he said.

Dr Cleopatra Nomonde Mqhayi-Mbambo, vice moderator of the commission, offered a reflection that focused on how Jesus offered hope and courage to his disciples in their hours of despair. 

The barriers of isolation, locked doors, fear, real danger, and doubt did not prevent Jesus from touching and being touched by his disciples,” she said. The wounded healer, who gave up his life for us, has overcome death and fear.”

Nothing can prevent us from experiencing the love of God, said Mqhayi-Mbambo. 

God so loved the world that he gave his only son for all to experience God's unconditional love—without exception,” she said. Today, many barriers prevent underserved communities and people from being pushed to the margins of society to experience God's love. We have to pray, advocate for, and work to remove these barriers so that all can live lives in dignity and in good health.”

Making the world a better place

Commissioners led prayers of intercession. 

Commissioner Rev. Dr Miriam J. Burnett prayed about health as a human right. We come praying for equity in access to health services around the world,” she said. We acknowledge that faith communities have tremendous potential for building assets and forging access to improve the health status in all communities.”

She also spoke of the challenges. With increasing risks for new and emerging diseases due to the climate crisis and the lack of security systems of all types that push people into extreme poverty, God help us to respond to these and more,” she prayed.

Commissioner Dr Glen Roy Paraso reflected on holistic health. We look forward to the joy of living together for the purpose of making this world a better place ,” prayed Paraso. May our thoughts bring about responsible actions that consider others and not of ourselves, take away the greed that steals opportunities to heal, which has caused us to forsake our relationship with others, the environment and more especially with you."

Commissioner Dr Daniela Visan shared a Prayer of the Fathers of Optina. Teach me to behave with honesty and wisdom to each member of my family, in order not to bring confusion and sorrow to anyone,” she said. 

The prayer was also part of the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle, praying with and for the people and churches of Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria.

WCC, WHO commemorate 50 years of collaboration (WCC feature story, 4 April 2024)

As World Health Day approaches, WCC invites global prayer (WCC news release, 4 April 2024)

health prayer