40 Days For Life Seeks to End Abortion Through Prayer and Mercy

Is anything more effective?

By Anika Smith Published on September 28, 2016

Last night a group of pro-life leaders and activists gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court with one goal: to pray for the end of abortion.

There were children and elderly, pretty young women interceding in prayer with arms outstretched and grizzled prayer warriors carrying proud signs and standards declaring their intention: the end of abortion in America. There were young black men, old Filipino women, middle-aged white people, bearded hipsters, and a few members of Congress sans entourage. From everyone there, the message was the same.

“America right now is at a crossroads,” 40 Days For Life CEO David Bereit told the crowd. “We have to recognize that the solution to our greatest cultural challenges … those solutions are not going to come from judges that sit on the bench of a court. Those solutions are not going to come from politicians in Washington, DC and in our state houses. The solutions to our greatest challenges are going to come from one place, and that is from God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Because we know that with God all things are possible, even getting our nation back on the right track.”

Oswald Chambers wrote that “prayer is the greater work.” No organization gets this like 40 Days for Life. That’s why they’re able to gather many different pro-life groups, from the sophisticated and savvy to the homespun and grassroots, in order to mobilize around one thing: having a prayerful witness at abortion clinics.

40 Days For Life’s History and Strategy

40 Days For Life is an ecumenical prayer movement that began in College Park, TX, and has spread around the world. Their three-pronged approach is simple and doable, which is why it works: pray and fast with other believers, life-saving community outreach, and 40-day 24/7 prayer vigils in front of abortion centers.

Since 40 Days For Life launched in 2007, over 11,000 women have chosen not to go through with abortion, saving their children’s lives. More than 100 abortion workers have quit their jobs and 75 abortion clinics have closed.

For those in the pro-life movement, these numbers represent something like what the abolitionists saw when the slave trade became increasingly restricted in Britain and former slavers became abolitionist preachers.

The success of pro-life legislation at the state level and in the court of public opinion was a repeated theme of encouragement to those present Tuesday night. The assorted speakers acknowledged the importance of electing pro-life officials and the three representatives shared stories about the late Rep. Henry Hyde and the miracles of pro-life legislative work (including keeping Obama’s pro-abortion nominee Merrick Garland from the Supreme Court). But the emphasis was on the necessary work at home.

The Work, The Compassion

“The work [at the Capitol] and the work down the street at the White House is not the most important work,” Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) told the volunteers. “It’s what you all are about to embark on here. It is that work of life throughout every community, around every kitchen table in every hamlet in every community in this country.”

“Scripture tells us, ‘Woe to he who calls darkness light and light darkness,’” Garrett continued. “Let us stand firmly and call abortion for what it is: death. Let us stand firmly and call for life.”

Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Penn.) encouraged those who were about to begin the campaign. “This is a vigil in the defense of our first right through the exercise of our first freedom,” Rothfus told the group.

“May your witness produce much fruit,” Rothfus told the vigil-keepers. “And I can’t help but be mindful of what Pope Francis has declared this year to be: a Year of Mercy. Let there be mercy for those struggling with this issue. Let there be mercy for those who have had abortion. May they never be afraid to turn to a merciful God, who loves and wants to heal.”

That message of compassion resounded in the crowd and was picked up by many of the women who spoke, including Georgette Forney, president of Anglicans for Life and founder of Silent No More, a campaign that shares the stories of post-abortive women and men to expose the brutal truth about abortion’s destructive power.

“Because it was legal, I thought it had to be OK,” Forney said, sharing her story as a teen who was ashamed when she found out she was pregnant. After grieving her lost child and repenting, Forney found healing and decided to share her story “because stories help the next generation make better choices.”

The emphasis on personal connection and the offer of mercy undermines the critics who claim that pro-lifers don’t care about women. The call last night was for “compassionate, nonjudgmental hearts.”

“The very best alternative to abortion is another person,” said Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey, as he shared stories about the thousands of pregnancy help centers across America.

40 Days For Life is inviting all believers to step in and become that alternative, to bear witness to the truth of abortion, and to offer mercy to millions of women who deserve better. God bless them for it.

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