There has been a Fortnight for Freedom, a Novena, and now another Rosary novena for human life and religious liberty from Catholics nationwide, praying for our election and the country’s future. Civic participation is a moral responsibility.
40 Days of Life is an ecumenical group that prays that innocent human life might be better protected by Americans, outside of abortion clinics (and have seen some fruits of their prayer witness). More than midway through the current 40-day campaign that ends just before the presidential election, 40 Days’ national director, David Bereit talks about why protecting innocent life is worth a prayer.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Is it more important to be praying for this election than other ones?
BEREIT: This is a crucial season to be praying and fasting for America as we approach one of the most important elections of our lifetime — an election where abortion advocacy and the right to life collide, and where millions of innocent children’s lives hang in the balance.
LOPEZ: What do you pray for?
BEREIT: During 40 Days for Life, we pray for mothers in crisis pregnancies, we pray for fathers who have been shoved to the sidelines, we pray for babies at risk of death by abortion, we pray for those who have been wounded (physically and/or emotionally) by past abortions, and we pray for those who advocate for abortion and those who work in the abortion industry –- that they may experience a change of heart. Collectively, we pray for an end to the tragedy of abortion in America and around the world.
LOPEZ: How does prayer help? Wouldn’t an educational campaign be more constructive?
BEREIT: When it comes to ending abortion, we recognize that “with man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” We ask God, the author of life, to change hearts and minds, to save lives, and to impact eternal souls, and He has responded in a profound way, saving more than 6,000 lives, closing 24 abortion centers, and changing the hearts of 69 abortion workers who have now left the abortion industry. Of the 525,000+ people who have participated in 40 Days for Life campaigns over the last five years, 31% of them — more than 162,000 people — had never been involved in any pro-life activity before. As they are invited to pray and fast for an end to abortion, inevitably these people become educated about the crisis of abortion and how they can be part of the solution to the problem.
LOPEZ: Why is it 40 days of prayer?
BEREIT: Throughout Biblical history, God used 40-day timeframes to accomplish two things: 1. Test the faithfulness of his people, and 2. Bring about transformation. With the abortion death toll since Roe v. Wade exceeding 54 million, we need transformation in America. Additionally, Christians have a responsibility to be faithful, since we are called to “rescue those being led to the slaughter” and “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” That is why we align our efforts around the 40-day timeframe.
LOPEZ: Is this an evangelical thing? Ecumenical?
BEREIT: 40 Days for Life is an ecumenical effort that involves people of virtually every Christian faith tradition and background, and has been endorsed by religious leaders of nearly every denomination.
LOPEZ: Do you worry this kind of campaign politicizes prayer?
BEREIT: No. 40 Days for Life is a humble effort that works to save lives and end abortion through three simple components: 1. Prayer & Fasting; 2. Peaceful Vigil (outside an abortion center or Planned Parenthood office); and 3. Community Outreach. We are not a political effort and as an organization we do not stand for, or against, any political candidate or piece of legislation. Indirectly, as hundreds of thousands of people pray and fast together this fall for an end to abortion, many of them will inevitably take their pro-life convictions into the voting booth — which can also help to bring about a lifesaving transformation in our nation.
LOPEZ: How do you wind up running a group that prays?
BEREIT: For me, it was through the positive influence and invitation of my amazing wife, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I would have never guessed that this is what I would be doing, but fortunately God has bigger and better plans than me! For most of our local 40 Days for Life campaign leaders around the world, it is similar. Many of them have either had personal experiences with abortion (and know the pain it causes), or a loved one of friend invited them to get involved. Almost all of them also recognized a sense of personal calling to participate in this effort.
LOPEZ: How does one participate in the 40 Days prayer campaign?
BEREIT: 1. Visit 40daysforlife.com to learn more and sign up to get daily e-mail updates and prayer requests for each of the 40 days.
2. Find a location near you that is conducting a 40 Days for Life by visiting here.
3. Pray (and, if you feel led, fast) this fall for an end to abortion.
4. Participate in the nearest peaceful prayer vigil outside an abortion facility or Planned Parenthood office.
5. Spread the word to others, inviting them to join you in this 40 Days for Life effort through November 4.
LOPEZ: What are your prayers as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Supreme
Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling?
BEREIT: Just like the Israelites who spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness before finally arriving in the Promised Land, I pray that America — after 40 years in the wilderness of abortion — will once again become a “promised land” that respects and protects what our founding fathers identified as our first, fundamental right — given to us by our Creator — the right to life. I pray that the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade will serve as a wakeup call for the church and that it will become a tipping point moment that will mark the beginning of the end of abortion.