For many pro-lifers, activism is rooted in faith. So it’s natural that prayer vigils have been at the center of our social justice movement.
A prayer vigil is a great way to bring your pro-life community together in united purpose to ask God for His blessing on our activism, thank Him for our successes, and re-commit ourselves to the work that remains before us.
- Types of prayer vigil
- Activities for your prayer vigil
- Atmosphere at your prayer vigil
- Practical concerns for your prayer vigil
Types of prayer vigils
Prayer vigils can take many forms. Your vigil could be anything from a simple gathering of the faithful to join in prayer together, all the way up to a more formal event with prayers, hymn, and special guests.
Evening candlelight vigils are very moving and have the advantage of usually taking place when the abortion facility is closed, reducing the likelihood of interference from the staff of the facility.
You might also choose a more active form of vigil like a “Jericho March,” where participants march around the block praying or singing hymns. For more on that option, see Hold a “Jericho March” at your local abortion facility.
An extended, multi-day vigil, like a 40 Days for Life Campaign, is another option, as is a 24-hour overnight vigil. Prayer at the abortion facility in the quiet of the night can be quite a moving experience!
You can also hold an anniversary prayer vigil on a day that’s noteworthy in your community, like the day your local abortion facility opened, or January 22 when the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down.
Activities for your prayer vigil
Singing hymns, offering Scripture readings, and hearing reflections from clergy or people who regularly pray or counsel at the facility are all great things to include in any of these events. Guests like a mother who chose life for her child at your abortion facility can also encourage the faithful in their pro-life work.
The Pro-Life Action League’s Life Witness Prayerbook contains many hymns and prayers appropriate to a pro-life prayer vigil.
You can also consider symbolic activities like having each participant lay a flower down on the driveway of the abortion facility in memory of the lives lost.
Atmosphere at your prayer vigil
Avoid a protest-type atmosphere for an event like this and keep the focus on prayer for an end to abortion in our country and the closing of your local facility.
Be sure to take the opportunity to invite everyone present to consider committing to praying one hour a month at the facility or becoming a trained sidewalk counselor and inviting their friends to do the same.
Keep your vigil ecumenical in nature unless you’re certain all participants will be of one religious group. If you’ll have a diverse crowd, have clergy from a variety of traditions come and offer prayers, both to make everyone comfortable and to show the world the unity we have in Christ in fighting for life.
Practical concerns for your prayer vigil
Take practical matters into consideration when planning your prayer vigil. If you’re holding a candlelight vigil, you’ll need to acquire candles and candleholders, which can be purchased at religious supply shops or online, like this set on Amazon.
Depending on the size of your crowd, you may wish to bring some amplification or a small stage. If your event will have multiple speakers or prayer leaders, consider printing programs and lyric sheets for any songs you plan to sing. On the day of the event, make a check list of everything you will need for the event and check it before you set out.
You can also have someone livestream your prayer vigil on Facebook or another video platform for those who can’t attend. Have someone take some photos or video for sharing on social media as well. See the Document and share news of your pro-life event action for more on those topics.
And finally, to avoid any trouble from police or clinic staff, be sure you choose a spot to host your vigil on public property. See the Learn how to distinguish public property from private property action to find out how to be sure you’re in a good spot.