40 Days for Life is an organized prayer movement, mobilizing God’s people to storm heavens gates in unity. In over 273 cities, in 23 countries, (in some locations biannually), believers are responding to abortion by seeking God’s face, fasting and showing up outside the places where death intentionally invades the womb to end life, local abortion clinics. Maybe you have heard of this peaceful vigil on social media, seen signs in yards, or even belong to a church that has participated? Maybe you, like me, have been inspired by this movement to seek God’s face in regards to abortion through repentance, fasting and prayer. 40Days has continued to gain momentum since the year it began in 2004. God is responding in miraculous ways, many of which you can read about in the founders, David Bereit and Shawn Carney’s, book 40 Days for Life, and Abby Johnson’s book UnPlanned, (Abby the former award winning Planned Parenthood director turned prowoman activist is a fearless advocate for women and abortion workers seeking a way out of the abortion industry.).
Here is the 40 Days Mission Statement: “40 Days for Life is a focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion. The mission of the campaign is to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion.”
I had shown up to pray with my family a few times in years previous to 2015. I never signed up on the 40Days schedule because spontaneous is my middle name. For the first campaign we participated in, I hand painted 4 canvases with sparkling gold backgrounds which framed deep red hearts, a great big mama heart for me, two medium sized hearts for my daughters and, a tiny heart for my toddler son.
I was hoping by holding the paintings outside the clinic we would convey not only the message of the value and beauty of life at all stages, but also that we were standing in love. It was challenging to get to the sidewalk with the whole crew. In spite of that, my “hearts” were all in. I remember telling a close friend, “I want to pray at the clinic more, but I’ve only gotten down there a couple times this 40 Days …”
To which he replied, in no effort to shame me (He didn’t participate himself to my knowledge.) something of the effect that when something becomes important enough to someone the actions follow. That didn’t sit well with me. I knew it was important to me. The understanding words of our suffering Christ in the garden of Gethsemane filled my mind, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Surely the Lord understood. It would take an act of God’s spirit to move these bones on over to the sidewalk more often.
In every area of my life I was seeking to live out the prolife message and use the gifts and talents God has given me to cultivate a culture of life. “Why was praying at the clinic so hard?” I wrestled with myself mentally.
My three children were already aware of the existence of abortion because of the post abortion outreach and other prolife ministry I was involved in. Each 40 Days before going to pray we discussed the complexities of abortion and how we could respond with compassion to those seeking it, providing abortion, and those who are post abortive. But abortion involves more than just these precious persons. Abortion involves an entire unseen people group. It involves the deliberate destruction of the smallest and weakest among us, the preborn. It involves friends, neighbors, and family members. We are wise to acknowledge that abortion is not just a “private health care decision between a woman and her doctor” it involves us all in immeasurable ways. It was best stated to me through the testimony of a post abortive woman who I asked, “What is it that you want people to know about abortion?”
She answered, “I don’t know why it’s only the “woman’s choice”. At the very least the choice should be four people’s.”
‘Hmmmm , what does she mean four!?’ I listened confused (I can be a little slow sometimes.)
“There is the mother, the father, the baby, and God.”
She’s right, directly at least four.
It is all put upon the one woman, yet much of our society is directly involved in acting out this choice with their own hands by funding, advocating, and facilitating abortion instead of taking action to protect the vulnerable from abortion.
I was recently involved in a great conversation with a prochoice friend. “If you prolifers really believed that abortion was ending the life of real people there would be a much different response …” and I will write more about this conversation later (bunny trail), but yes.
My children know of this injustice. It is the reason we pray. Never to judge, but to seek the face of God to change first our own hearts and also the heart of the nation.