[This article was written a couple of years ago for the church where I was serving. It included one prayer for each day during Sanctity of Life Week. I thought it would be good to share here as well.]
I have to be honest here. This article did not start out in the language and attitude of prayerful petition. Rather, it started out as thoughts more critical than humble, more judgmental than self-evaluating, and more peppered with anger than seasoned with grace. However, God was patiently turning my speck seeking eyes into a vision and a prayer for the log that plagues so many of us.
Where does the blame lie as millions of unborn babies are mercilessly and pre-meditatively killed each year? Upon whose hands does their blood leave a stain? It is here that God gave me a heart of supplication. The greatest way we can stand up and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves is to pray that the hearts of the people be turned back to the ways of the Lord. Sin diminishes as the gospel advances. A heart ruled by God is a heart that loves and serves those made in His image. Here are six prayers taken from Psalm 139 for us to meditate on and pray during this Sanctity of Life week.
1. That we would trust and appreciate the wisdom of God in the giving of life.
"O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up;you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it." [vv.1-6]
Abortion itself is the child of self-love. It is terrifying to me the lengths my own idolatry will go to justify the elimination of anything that threatens its survival. Abortion is simply the tragic end of a slippery slope that begins with ordering and planning our lives around our own comforts, conveniences, desires, fears, and pleasures rather than the glory of God and the advancement of His gospel kingdom to nations and generations.
2. That we would submit to His sovereign ownership and rule over those whom He gives life.
"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you." [vv.7-12]
A good dose of humble pie would serve us well here. We sometimes get a case of mistaken identities. Somehow we begin to think of ourselves as the givers (or takers) of life and God as the steward who must manage what we choose to produce. Eat a slice of the first two chapters of Genesis and all will become clear again. It is God who gives (and takes) life. It is we who are commanded to be good managers of what God produces. Let’s spend less time worrying about being life-givers, and more time learning how to be good stewards of what God has placed under our care.
3. That we would have a renewed sense of the value and beauty of all human life made in His image.
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." [vv.13-16]
Unfortunately, this is where decades of evolutionary thought rears its ugly and deceptive head. We are tempted to determine a person’s value by the potential that individual has to contribute positively to the welfare of society as a whole or attain personal health and happiness. Think I am overstating this a bit? How many women are encouraged by their doctors to receive tests concerning the possibility of birth defects in their unborn child? These tests are not for the sake of treatment ( as some other early detection tests are designed for), but in order to allow the woman to make an "informed" choice as to the pros and cons of continuing on with the pregnancy. How many of us are guilty of experiencing disappointment when our child fails to live up to certain dreams and expectations we had for them? These are not goals and expectations taken from the Scriptures. No, these are things we deemed valuable and worthwhile in our own eyes. May our children adorn the gospel more than they adorn our scrapbooks, mantles and walls.
4. That our hearts would be made to "live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God" [Micah 6:8] because of God’s covenant love given to us in Christ.
"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you." [vv.17-18]
The Apostle Paul said it best in his letter to the Romans, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." [Romans 13:8-10] One who has been captured by the grace of God will seek to obey God. To obey God is to seek justice for others, show mercy without discrimination, and put the needs of others before your own.
5. That those who show injustice and bring oppression would be overcome by God, either by the grace of His gospel or the justice of His wrath.
"Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies." [vv.19-22]
These are harsh words from a man after God’s own heart. Is it right to pray that God would remove those who bring wickedness and bloodshed? I believe it is right to pray that God would conquer His enemies. David’s prayer is thoroughly God-centered. I would suggest that our prayers concerning the enemies of God and His kingdom be both God-centered and gospel-centered. It is God’s prerogative to bring justice at the proper time and in the appropriate way. He will conquer those who do evil and deceive others to do the same. He may choose to conquer them with the gospel and His Spirit. So let us be quick to speak gospel truth in the darkness. Or He may choose to conquer them on the day of judgment with wrath. As for us, we are simply to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…"
6. That we would take more seriously our duties to guard those under our care, to preserve the glory of the God whose image we bear, and to forgive even as we have been forgiven.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" [vv.23-24]
May fathers take seriously their duty to guard the purity of their daughters and train their sons in the ways of honor, respect and self-control. May elected leaders see their time in office as a temporary duty to be performed according to conscience and Constitution rather than a career path to be preserved at any cost. May women, young and old alike, find more delight in the covenant arms of God than the lust-driven arms of untamed men. May the blessing and beauty of God-ordained life be a healing ointment on the wounds of sinful decisions, tragic circumstances, or deeply-inflicted hurts. May all of us, those who have been rescued out of the bottomless quicksand of our own sin by the gracious hand of our Redeemer, find forgiveness to be a precious gift to receive and to give in abundance.
In humble repentance to a God whose love is better than life…