This past week marked the 43rd anniversary of the now infamous Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal through all nine months of a mother’s pregnancy. According to statistics from Planned Parenthood’s Allen Guttmacher Institute and the U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention the number of legal abortions performed since that decision now exceeds 57 million. The number now carried out annually by Planned Parenthood alone exceeds 300,000. They are the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Back in the fall of 2007 a group of concerned Christians launched a new pro-life movement that was birthed through prayer. Broken-hearted over the devastation caused by abortion and longing to see it brought to an end, they organized to promote a Christian response, one grounded in the essentials of: (1) Prayer and Fasting, (2) Peaceful Vigil, and (3) Community Outreach. Today that movement, 40 Days for Life, is the largest internationally coordinated effort working to see an end to this egregious taking of defenseless lives. Their theme is simply, “Pray to End Abortion.” And God has greatly used this movement to spare baby’s lives and to help hurting families. This year this movement of 675,000 volunteers is in 607 cities in 32 nations and shares stories of 11,165 known lives saved over the past 8 years since its beginnings. Add to that 127 abortion workers choosing to quit and 64 abortion centers closed. And that is cause for praise!
Locally, a 40 Days Campaign will get underway on February 10th and continue through to March 20th, concluding the week before Easter. Once again I’m asking you to join me in participating. All can respond with focused prayer. Some may choose some form of fasting and praying. Some will join me in peaceful vigil, choosing a time to stand with others in front of our local Planned Parenthood abortion provider to pray. Already a number of our church family’s elders have signed up with a timeslot to lead the way.
Our local organization has asked Sanctuary Bible Church to cover the six Thursdays of February 11, 18, 25 and March 3, 10, and 17 with folks making a commitment to focused prayer. For some that will mean committing to a specific time of praying with family or friends for an end to abortion, praying for those contemplating abortion to choose life, praying for abortion providers to close their doors, praying for post abortive parents to find forgiveness and healing in the love of Christ. Those who can do more can commit to a time of standing in peaceful vigil and praying in front of our local Planned Parenthood clinic.
I was recently asked why I encourage participation in this particular movement when there are so many other good causes that cry out for our involvement. Why focus attention here? Let me suggest three simple reasons: (1) God’s Word declares that every life is precious and crafted in the womb by God’s wonderful handiwork (Psalm 139:13-18), (2) Abortion is by far the leading cause of death in our world, and God calls us to protect and value life as a good gift from Him (Exodus 20:13, Genesis 1:27, 28, James 1:16-18), and (3) My prayer and peaceful protest can be a voice for the voiceless and a cause for hope for the hopeless (Proverbs 24:11, 12; Luke 4:18, 19).
It’s one thing to say that we care deeply for human life at every stage of development, and it’s another to become actively involved in defending and protecting the most vulnerable among us. It’s one thing to say that we care deeply for women who feel trapped by an unwanted pregnancy, and it’s another to work to see that they have every cause for hope with good counsel and resources to carry them through. 40 Days for Life is just one way to address our culture’s very broken world view on personal freedom and the right to life. But it’s a very practical way that really is making a difference, and we can play our part.
Won’t you join me in committing to a time of Thursday prayer, and for some, committing to a Thursday time to stand with others down in front of our local clinic on Hilby Avenue in Monterey? If you’d like to join me or one of our elders in standing in peaceful vigil you can sign up in the foyer of our sanctuary.