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Uike Lotu: a Tongan kick-off of the New Year with Week of Prayer

by Monalisa S. Tu’itahi

Prayer Week, or Uike Lotu, is underway all over the connection, as Tongan congregations participate in the annual week of prayer. Traditionally, Prayer Week marks the beginning of the New Year. But more than just marking the new year, it is a week of Ha`amo (“carrying”) 2024 and praying for its well-being and success. Also known as the week of To-ta`u (“planting”) the harvest of 2024, at its deepest level, it is a week of celebrating God’s providence and granting of a new year and praying for the journey in the coming year.

Services are held twice daily, with early morning service usually around 5 or 6 am, and repeated in the evenings. Members and extended family and community members, including all generations, make their way to church to participate in the traditional prayer services. A communal feast or meal sponsored by individual families or small groups is served immediately after each service.

Services are more or less uniform and consist of a short reflection based on particular passages, lots of singing, and praying for a specific theme at each service. Led by an assigned lay member and their family members, the central component of the service is a time of communal prayer for the theme, where the entire church joins in spirited and lively prayer, often marked by loud pleadings, even tears. All or most of those in attendance participate in the communal prayer while others sing, accompanying the prayers. The result is a beautiful cacophony of boisterous prayer and singing.

The California-Pacific (Cal-Pac) Conference Tongan Prayer Week themes have been prepared and translated by a small Cal-Pac task force and shared widely at the end of 2023 so that members begin preparing, including praying for the services. Themes include very personal and spiritual resolutions and commitment, praying for leaders of the church and local church, country and world leaders, and social issues plaguing our communities.

Happy New Year and Happy Prayer Week!



[Morning] New Year Praise and Thanksgiving – Let us shout for joy and worship the Lord with gladness, for the Lord has led us into the New Year. Though we were burdened with the many challenges of the journey, the Lord of the Way guided our steps, thus enabling us to arrive on this Week of Prayer for 2024 (Psalms 100; 1 Chronicles 16:34 & 36; Lamentations 3:22-23).

[Evening] Repent and Confession of Sin – Oh God, we confess that we are sinners. We repent of the sins of our past and seek your forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ. Enable us on this day to renew our commitment to serve you and live in your Light (Psalms 51:1-4; Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 1:5-9).


[Morning] The Mission and Leaders of The United Methodist Church – Our mission is “To make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world.” We pray for The United Methodist Church and all of the leaders of its connectional structure, our Bishop Escobedo-Frank and her Cabinet, the upcoming General Conference, and the future of The UMC that we may continue to faithfully live out our mission according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and our Wesleyan theology, that “in all things, charity.” (Acts 2:1-4; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 10:42-45)

[Evening] The Local Church – The UMC mission mandates that the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs is the local church. Therefore we pray for the leaders of the local church – Pastors, Lay Leaders, Small Group leaders, Chair and leaders of all local church committees, Boards and Councils, Youth, Young Adult, and Children’s Ministries, and all who have been called to leadership this year, that they may be enlightened, strengthened, and empowered by God to do their best to answer God’s call in their lives (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 12:12-15; Isaiah 61:1-3).


[Morning] The Christian Faith in the World – We pray for the Christian witness in the world, that the Good News of Jesus Christ may reach all people in all places, and for all Christians to embody Jesus Christ in their lives (Colossians 2:27; Acts 1:7-8; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 12:1-2).

[Evening] World Leaders and Peace – We pray for all World Leaders that God’s light may guide their leadership, that they may be moved by the Holy Spirit to seek God’s peace and shalom, and we pray urgently for a peaceful resolution and a timely end to the war in Ukraine, Israel and the Palestinians/Hamas and other places where there is civil unrest and war (2 Chronicle 7:13-16; Matthew 5:9; Mathew 26:52; Revelation 21:1-4).


[Morning] USA and Tonga and their Leaders – We pray for President Joe Biden and his Cabinet, for all Federal, State, and City Government leaders, for the King of Tonga and the Royal Household, the Prime Minister and the leaders of Tonga, to lead according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 29:1-4; Jeremiah 29:7-11; Matthew 12:25).

[Evening] Social, Economic, Environmental, and Political Well-Being – “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” We cry out to God Almighty for continual strength to meet the challenges of the present age, to bring about justice for all people through a more equitable distribution of wealth to end poverty, healing of racial inequality and brokenness, caring for the environment, and ending the spiritual and physical hunger and thirst of this age (Matthew 5:6; 1 John 4:20-21; Micah 6:8; Romans 8:31-39).


[Morning] Beloved Community – We seek to journey with God, love Him with all we have, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Let that Love be our Guiding Principle for this New Year (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; Psalms 133; Ephesians 4:1-6).

[Evening] Oath and Covenant – Let us covenant to follow God this New Year, declaring that Jesus is King through our words, actions, and behaviors (Leviticus 19:1-2; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Luke 14:26-27).

To watch Colton UMC (East District)’s Thursday evening Uike Lotu service, click below.