The Abbé from the very beginning offered two schemes of possible intentions for the Week of Prayer. The first concentrated on the need for Christians of the main Church groupings to increase in holiness, so that growing closer to union with Christ they would discover the growing unity between those who had been separated. The second scheme reflected Couturier's conviction that the reunion of all Christians is the way that leads to the union of all humanity - in and through Christ. In this universal and cosmic understanding of Christ, he was influenced by the scientific panorama of Teilhard de Chardin, as well as the theology of Eastern Orthodoxy, to whose liturgy he was exposed among the Monks of Unity.
The second scheme below, is based on that for 1953, the last year of Couturier's life. Couturier had Jewish blood, and he was particularly concerned for mutual love and understanding between Christians and Jews. He was well aware of the immense sufferings Jews had undergone during the Second World War. Unaware of his descent, the Gestapo had imprisoned him on the grounds of his contacts with people in Switzerland and England. He had also worked among Muslims in North Africa, and had a particular respect for the devotion to God he encountered there. In 1954, the Week of Prayer was launched for the first time in Morocco and paid special attention to the spiritual relations between Christians and Muslims, and prayer that both should grow in peace, in mutual love and respect, and in holiness, drawing ever close to God in Christ.
The post-war context for the second scheme is as relevant in 2003, at a time of heightened tension and growing distrust among Christians, Jews and Muslims, and the spectre of war.
The Unity of all Christians desired by Christ for his Church
In the last year of his life, Couturier made three final requests of those who would pray for unity:
Couturier suggests that the use of these intentions as a basis for an octave of intercession need not be restricted to the Week of Prayer. The can also be used in Holy Week; Easter Week; from Ascension Day to Pentecost, as the Church awaits the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; and the Week from Pentecost to Trinity Sunday, when the Church contemplates its mission to the world.