FREDERICKSBURG, Va., February 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – As over a billion Christians worldwide begin today the holy season of Lent, many will honor the call to prayer and sacrifice by participating in the 40 Days for Life vigil. For the next forty days, pro-life advocates all over the world will maintain a constant 24-hour presence outside hundreds of abortion facilities, praying and fasting for an end to abortion.
The massively successful international pro-life effort, which began in a single town in Texas in 2004, will this year hold vigils in a record-breaking 261 locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Spain, Poland, Nigeria, South Africa and Russia.
According to the organizers’ website, the 40-day campaign strives to emulate Biblical seasons of transformation, where God used 40-day periods to change individuals, communities, and the entire world.
“From Noah in the flood to Moses on the mountain to the disciples after Christ's resurrection, it is clear that God sees the transformative value of His people accepting and meeting a 40-day challenge,” says the group.
Over the past nine years, hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates have joined the campaign, including many past abortion clinic workers who have had a change of heart, quit their jobs and since become involved with the pro-life movement. One of those is former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who quit her job after five years of 40 Days for Life prayer vigils outside her clinic, and now runs her own pro-life group aimed at helping other clinic workers leave the abortion industry. Johnson told 40 Days program director Shawn Carney about the last Planned Parenthood conference she attended before quitting in 2009:
“I remember the last Planned Parenthood conference that I went to before I quit,” Johnson said. “We were actually talking about the 40 Days for Life. Planned Parenthood was saying that their no-show rates go up as high as 75% when people are simply standing and praying outside of abortion clinics.”
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In the nine years that 40 Days for Life has been holding their vigils, thousands of babies have been saved from abortion, and 28 abortion facilities have been shut down. In fact, the group reports they had originally planned vigils for 262 locations this winter, but had to cancel the vigil in Lima, Ohio when the city’s sole abortion clinic, which had been the location of 40 Days prayer vigils the previous four years, suddenly closed its doors just days before this year’s vigil.
One volunteer recounted the story on the 40 Days blog: “We called the Capital Care abortion center,” she said, “and they said they were ‘all done in Lima’ and not taking appointments.”
“We were a little skeptical, but we went out to pray,” she said. “At the end of the day, one of the abortion workers started throwing furniture from the abortion center in the dumpster! They were taking boxes out of the building and putting them in their cars. It was a wonderful sight!”
The current 40-day vigil coincides perfectly with Lent, giving Christians who want to amplify their penitential efforts a golden opportunity to do so.
The Lenten focus on fasting also plays a role in 40 Days for Life. On their website, the group says, “Christ said there are demons that can only be driven out by prayer and fasting.”
The group suggests a variety of things from which pro-lifers might choose to fast. “Fast from certain foods. Fast from television. Fast from apathy and indifference. Fast from whatever it is that separates you from God.”
Adds the group, “We believe that when God’s people fast with a broken, repentant and contrite spirit, our heavenly Father will hear from heaven and heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation, and our world.”
To find the 40 Days location nearest you, click here.