How do we “pray to end abortion?” There are very specific contours to this multi-faceted intention, and in this third part of this series, we continue to explore what they are.
A basic framework for our praying against abortion is that we begin with repentance.
I talk about this at length in my book Abolishing Abortion. And what do I mean? On one of the many occasions on which I’ve prayed the rosary with other pro-lifers in front of abortion facilities, one of the pro-abortion protestors came up to me at the end of our prayers and started yelling about how self-righteous we all were. I said to that person in response, “You know, we just said 150 times, publicly, that we are sinners. We didn’t hear you say it once. Who’s being self-righteous?” Of course, we said that we were sinners by praying publicly the Our Father, (“forgive us our trespasses”), and the Hail Mary (“pray for us sinners”).
So we’re pointing the fingers at ourselves. We’re not pointing the finger at other people. The Pro-Life Movement does not point fingers of condemnation. It extends hands of mercy and help and strength to lift people up out of despair. The beginning of our prayer against abortion is not an attitude of looking down on people. It is not the attitude of, “Oh, they are doing such a terrible thing. Lord, God, stop them from doing that!”
Our attitude is very different. We start by saying, “Lord, I have sinned. I’m coming to you as my savior. Lord, I have sinned. Forgive me. Lord, I repent of the wrong I have done. Forgive me because I am under the same moral law as anybody for whom I might be praying, as anybody for whose repentance I might be advocating, for anybody I might be admonishing. Lord, there’s a place for doing that because you have set us up as watchmen. But I start by realizing that I’m in the same boat, and I need repentance and I need renewal. I need forgiveness. I have sinned. I have aborted God’s will, although I may not have been involved in the actual sin of aborting a baby in the womb, I have aborted the will of God, turned away from it, thrown it out the window, said no to it. And of that, I repent.”
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When we begin with that attitude of repentance, then our praying against abortion doesn’t pretend to make us better than anybody else. It doesn’t say or imply any kind of pride or arrogance. Rather, it recognizes that we’re all in need of a savior, and that, praise God, we have one. And it recognizes that this is how we need to turn to him to ask for the gift, the grace, of repentance. It is a gift. It is a grace, and it is a grace that we want for everyone.
So this, along with what we’ve mentioned in the previous two parts of this series, are some of the frameworks for our praying against abortion. In the next part of this series, we’ll consider the different groups of people for whom we pray when we pray to end abortion.