February 14, 2013 (ProLifeAction) - Father Frank Pavone once gave a talk in which he asked his audience what the first step of any effective pro-life effort must be. Most people in the audience guessed, “Prayer.” But Father Frank went deeper than that.

He explained that the first thing we must do, if our pro-life witness is to be effective, is to repent.

One might think that to repent is to pray, but repentance itself is an act that precedes prayer. Repentance is the admission in my heart that that I have sinned, and that I stand in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Today (as I write this) is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, so it is a fitting time for each of us to contemplate our own need for repentance, and especially how we, as pro-lifers, can live out Our Lord’s call to repentance in our prayer about abortion and our witness outside abortion facilities.

Our Prayer and Fasting Must Begin with Repentance

The Pro-Life Action League’s Life Witness Prayer Book includes four hours of prayer especially suited for praying outside abortion clinics, with the third hour dominated by the Stations for the Cross and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary—and filled with exhortations to repent.

For example, in the First Station (Jesus Is Condemned to Death), we pray, “My innocent Jesus, often, rather than offend men, I have forsaken You,” and in the Fifth (Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross), “Let me be ashamed that, like Simon, I so often carry the cross only on compulsion.”

And then there’s this from the Ninth Station (Jesus Falls the Third Time):

Make me firm in my resolve ever to be honest in admitting my guilt; make me ever ready to endure any embarrassment, to tolerate any consequences, rather than fail to confess and atone for my sins.

What’s especially significant about each of these calls for repentance is that they precede prayers for abortion-bound mothers, abortion supporters, pro-abortion politicians, as well as abortion clinic workers. We do not offer prayers for those involved in the sin of abortion without first admitting our own sinfulness and asking God for mercy.

We know it is possible through the grace of God that abortion clinic workers can be converted — as witnessed by the many former abortion workers who are now pro-life — and we know that our prayers and fasting can help bring about conversion.

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Indeed, just yesterday, LifeSiteNews published yet another account of a former abortion worker (a woman named Ann, who worked as a nurse in an abortion clinic for two years) who has since undergone a radical transformation in her own life.

Yesterday the Pro-Life Action League put out a call for all pro-life people to join us in fasting from one meal each week throughout Lent to pray for the conversion of one specific abortion clinic worker. You can help promote this fasting campaign on Facebook by sharing this image and by using this cover photo.

A Dangerous Business

It’s no exaggeration to say that praying and fasting for sinners is dangerous, for it’s ever so easy to slip into the pride of ranking oneself above those “sinners” one is praying for—especially when the sin is as serious as abortion.

In the end, the Evil One may score a greater victory when a pro-lifer allows pride to blind him to his own profound need for God’s mercy, than when a woman in desperate circumstances goes through with an abortion. (Recall that Our Lord had stronger words for the prideful Pharisees than for the woman taken in adultery, or the woman at the well.)

We can and should pray and fast for the conversion of abortion clinic workers, but our desire to do so must begin with a spirit of repentance and an honest acknowledgment of our own sinfulness.

Reprinted with permission from the Pro-life Action League.