God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion
in America." Clearly, this is a noble, well-intentioned effort to help reduce the number of abortions - and hopefully eliminate them.
Last year where I live, we saw a pretty major problem with the 40 Days campaign. Things were thrown together at the last minute, there weren't clear expectations we could share with others that participated, and it ended up getting ugly in front of the abortion clinics. There were church members that were involved in intimidation and just had the completely wrong idea.
Whenever I hear of something that takes a stand for life, I immediately look at the impact it will have on unbelievers and/or pregnant women. When I heard of this campaign last year, I envisioned people praying outside of the abortion clinic and women going into the clinic. Most of them probably would have the typical view of anyone "crazy" enough to stand outside the clinic. They probably think that we're judging them, condemning them, and being angry with them. Then when this was what actually happened last year, it probably did a lot of damage to the women and men going into the clinic.
I think we need to be very mindful and very careful of the "face" we show to those heading into the clinic. If they see us being angry, intimidating, looking down our noses, and even if they see a group praying, they either aren't going to understand and/or they are going to feel upset about it. Instead of seeing open arms, they're going to think we are not accepting of them now and won't accept them after. I doubt that any one of them would feel comfortable walking over for help or prayer – I know I wouldn't in that situation.
That being said, prayer is SO vitally important to this issue. It's the only thing that will change anything – from the mindset of the women to the laws of our country. So I do not want to discourage prayer from taking place. I just don't understand why in front of the clinic? If it is to combat spiritual powers, couldn't anyone do that from home? At a church? Anywhere else? What good comes from being across the street from an abortion clinic? Does God hear our prayers better there? When I consider the negatives that could come from being there, I don't think that taking a step of faith or being salt and light at that place outweighs the image of being Christ to the women and men making that awful journey.
There are also other concerns that are minor, but important. The 40 Days campaign originated with ALL (the American Life League). This is a Catholic organization that is very political and very condemning in their attitude. They are of the opinion that birth control pills cause murder and they have no problem sharing that opinion in a sanctimonious way. They started 40 Days as a way to draw attention to Planned Parenthood centers and stand in opposition to them. There was no mention of outreach to women or prayers before God until later.
This year, in my area I hear that around 40 Catholic churches and only 4 Protestant churches (to this point) are signed up for 40 Days. Major Christian organizations (for instance Dr Dobson with Focus on the Family) do not encourage 40 Days participation… They're silent on it. Why?
I would think that a better way to do this would be to encourage prayer at a certain time daily, weekly, monthly, etc. It could be on a constant basis - maybe 1 hour of the day, maybe 1 hour during the week every week, etc. There are numerous ways to do this, but peaceful protest, as 40 Days puts it, really does not do anyone any good in my opinion.
All that being said, please just pray about it, think about it, and if you are feeling strongly led that this is a good thing for the body of Christ as represented at your church to step into, the only suggestion I could have would be to really educate the people you send out there. Educate them about the mindset of those going into the clinic and how we need to appear like Jesus would to them. Last year, I heard a few times that people would be "unable to keep my mouth shut" or "I might have to physically restrain someone" and other things when I called people to get involved. Yikes!
What are your thoughts? I couldn't find a single thing out there that spoke against the idea of 40 Days for Life. Am I the only one?