by Pam Neighbor
On Thursdays I pray with a small group of men and women. It is an ecumenical group that includes a variety of denominations. We pray for babies, children, parents, and grandparents. We pray for medical doctors, government officials and just laws. We pray for salvation, healing, truth, and much more. We pray together for two hours using scripture, prayers, and hymns.
What would you think if I told you that that this same group is not praying in a church or home, but is a pro-life group that prays outside an abortion facility? Would your picture of my little prayer group suddenly be different?
Now instead of envisioning us praying scriptures and hymns, you might envision tension, confrontation, antagonism, ugly signs waving in the direction of the facility, and passersby being accosted. But you would be wrong.
I am a part of “40 Days For Life” in Tacoma, Washington and have prayed outside of abortion facilities with this group since the local effort began in 2006. 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.” Unfortunately, in the minds of most people, pro-life means protest. Even most Christians see us as protesters. Despite the truth of our activities, most people who see us or hear about what we do assume there is something other than quiet prayer going on.
How did our culture get so skewed in our perspective of people who pray? And why is it that believers who take a stand for life are thought of so poorly, even within the Christian community?
The proponents of abortion long ago dismissed the moral and Biblical heritage of life and birth as they had been understood for millennia. They took abortion and reframed it entirely. A once illegal, immoral, and evil practice of death and infanticide became legal, acceptable, and even fashionable. To ensure that the life of a real, living baby didn’t become an issue, it was described as “tissue.” Christians who believed in the sanctity of life were characterized as antiquated, out-of-touch, critical, condemning, and stupid. Abortion was given the label “pro-choice” and women were now “free” to do as they wished without constraint. More recently, abortion has been called “safe healthcare for women.” If you don’t agree, you are labeled part of a “war on women.”
Most people, including churches, have accepted this reframing hook, line, and sinker. Those who don’t are marginalized, and many have quit objecting. Churches are mostly silent. For decades, high schools, colleges and universities have been cranking out pro-abortion graduates at an astounding rate. The pro-abortion mentality has permeated the culture, going deep into the education, legal, medical, business, nonprofit, and media spheres to further promote abortion. Anyone who disagrees with these cultural leaders is maligned as trying to stop a societal good.
The influence of the pro-abortion culture has even permeated the Church. Christians are conditioned to see prayer warriors as protesters. Even pastors have joined this delusion! Many leaders have been swayed to believe in abortion. Others know the truth behind groups like 40 Days for Life, but are afraid to join us out of fear that they will be maligned along with us. Other pastors are fearful of disunity in uninformed congregations, which can threaten or result in reduced numbers and dollars for the church. Still others believe that onsite prayer vigils corrupt the pro-life effort and make it harder to rally people to the cause.
There are a few (but growing) brave and supportive pastors who stand behind the pro-life effort. They spread the news about 40 Days for Life in their churches, encourage prayer in the church and out at the abortion site, and even show up to pray themselves as leaders. These leaders, and all who pray with us, are making a difference.
We pray for many reasons that I hope to discuss in future articles. However, understand this. From 2006 to 2013 there was a 27% decline in abortions done in Pierce County, where Tacoma is located. (This statistic agrees with other county metrics.) There are at least 1000 known babies alive because of the efforts of 40 Days for Life in Tacoma. We pray, and many times lives are saved.
This is why we go to abortion facilities—to save lives.
To find out more about 40 Days for Life and how you can join the prayer effort to save lives, visit 40daysforlife.com.