How to Pray to End Abortion: Uniting the Church in Prayer to God Through Jesus

Opinion   Father Frank Pavone   Sep 10, 2018   |   3:18PM    Washington, DC

A topic central to ending abortion, and so high on the priority list of pro-life activities, is praying to end abortion. In this series of articles, I want to talk more specifically about how exactly we do that.

We are often asked to pray for an end of abortion, and I certainly hope it’s already a key intention in your daily prayers. But there’s a structure to how we pray about abortion. Of course, there’s a structure to how we pray as Christians to begin with: we pray to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit in the holy church. We pray as the body of Christ.

Of course, we pray directly to Jesus also, and directly to the Holy Spirit. Many, though not all, Christians pray for the intercession of Mary and the angels and the saints. But the basic structure of Christian prayer, as Jesus taught us the model for all prayer, the Our Father, is a prayer to the Father through the Son — that is, we recognize that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and that he has opened up that way by giving us the eternal redemption in his shed blood and in his resurrection, and through our baptism, and through our incorporation to his body. That is indeed how and why, having been filled with the spirit, we dare to call God our Father.

But in that overall framework of Christian prayer, we often pray for a specific intention. When we do, especially for an intention as big as ending abortion, there are other characteristics of that particular type of prayer that we want to explore and that can make our prayer against abortion even more effective.

Let’s think of it, first in this way. We’re talking about the slaughter of tens of millions of God’s children in the womb. This is taking place every day, and it’s taking place under the cover of law – “law,” which, of course, is unjust, which is not law at all but rather an act of violence.

And so when we think, first of all, about praying to end abortion, we are talking about praying to end it totally. We’re talking about praying to stop it. There’s no nuance when it comes to what our goal is in regard to abortion. We’re not just trying to speak against it, or bear witness against it, or reduce the numbers of abortions. We are here to end it, to bring it to a total cease; to stop the bloodshed, to stop the killing. It’s a fundamental injustice against not only the rights of that baby but against the rights of the baby’s Creator.

And so we’re praying against the most fundamental evil of our day. Abortion is a slap in the face to God, the Creator. “I formed you in the womb,” he says to Jeremiah. Psalm 139 declares how wonderfully each of us is fashioned in secret, in our mother’s womb. So we know it’s the handiwork of God that abortion is destroying, and abortion is a no to God. But in Christ, God says a great yes. Christ is the great Amen to all God’s promises. And so the way of the Christian, the way of salvation, is always saying yes to God’s plan.

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And that is what we mean we say a prayer to end abortion. We want to turn the no into a yes. We want to affirm what God is already doing. Mary says, “Be it done to me according to your word.” “Fiat.” Be it done to me. I am receiving a word from God, a choice of God, the will of God. His choice comes first. “It was not you who chose me. It was I who chose you,” Jesus told us. God always teaches us that his will, his choice are first, and then our will and our choices fall in line with that freely. He doesn’t force us. But in that free obedience, we find fulfillment and happiness, and indeed salvation.

So when we are praying against abortion, we are setting ourselves up to be carried into this great yes to God and to his plan and to his designs, specifically in regard to the life of that child, whom God’s choice has already brought into existence. When we pray against abortion, we’re not praying for simply future children who might exist. We’re praying primarily for children who already exist, whose existence has already begun who God thought about from all eternity, and whose plan for them has already begun to unfold. Their DNA characteristics are all already determined. They’re already living and growing inside of their mothers, and now abortion threatens to end and to destroy that.

We’ll continue reflecting on what it means to pray to end abortion in part two of this series.