The pro-life group, 40 Days for Life, kicked off its Lenten prayer campaign outside of abortion clinics this week.
The prayer campaign, which will take place in hundreds of cities across the United States and several countries around the world, invites participants to spend 40 days in prayer and fasting for an end to abortion and holding peaceful vigils outside of abortion clinics.
Shawn Carney, the president of 40 Days for Life, which is based in Bryan, Texas, told TheBlaze that the group is beginning its biggest campaign yet, with chapters in more than 340 cities in 30 countries.
— 40 Days for Life (@40daysforlife) March 1, 2017
“And it comes at a time when the momentum at the grassroots level of the pro-life movement is at an all-time high, and Planned Parenthood’s brand is at an all-time low,” Carney said.
Planned Parenthood is currently defending its federal funding after Republican lawmakers indicated that they will seek to redirect funds currently granted to Planned Parenthood to other providers.
40 Days for Life has two yearly prayer campaigns, Carney said, and the spring campaign intentionally coincides with Lent, the Christian season of repentance and prayer.
“We use this 40-day time period because the one thing our nation needs is prayer,” he said. “So by doing it in conjunction with the season of Lent, we enter into a time when we reflect upon our own sin and our own dependence upon God, and also our culture’s need for God, and our culture’s need for his love and for his compassion.”
“And so, it’s a perfect season to be praying for an end to abortion, to be offering alternatives to women and men seeking abortion,” he added. “And also to offer alternatives to those who work in the abortion industry.”
Carney said participants in the campaign sign a statement of peace, detailing the group’s commitment to respectful and lawful protest, and to conduct themselves with a “Christ-like attitude.”
— Abigail Doty (@Abigail_L_Doty) March 1, 2017
“We’re there to bring peace, to bring joy,” he said.
Carney said that more than 12,000 women have rejected abortion as a result of the group’s efforts, and those are “just the ones we know about.”
He said the prayer campaign is a way for the grassroots pro-life movement to be involved in the cause.
“It makes you feel like you aren’t helpless when it comes to the abortion issue, this is not just something tucked away in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “Abortions go on in our neighborhoods.”
Participants in the Washington, D.C., chapter gathered outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in the rain for a prayer vigil and protest Tuesday evening.
Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life, cited scripture, telling activists at the gathering that light will always overcome darkness.
She said that as Christians enter into the season of Lent to prepare for the three holiest days of the year, they should not allow themselves to be “overwhelmed” by the “culture of death.”
“The light came into the world, and the darkness did not overcome it,” Mancini said as she thanked participants for their presence and for “being that light.”
“The darkness of Planned Parenthood will not overcome the light because you are here,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we remember that love destroys evil.”
She said the best way to make their case is to remain joyful and loving in their “prayerful witness.”
Katie Yoder, who is leading the Washington, D.C., prayer campaign, told participants that their presence outside the clinic saves lives — even if they can’t see it.
“There are results,” Yoder said, citing the 12,000 women who have rejected abortion as a result of the campaign. “Your presence does make a difference, it does save lives. And if we know that our words can change minds and hearts, if our presence can save lives, then why shouldn’t we be out here as frequently as we can to make a difference?”