The power of prayer. The Bible says to pray without ceasing.

Sadly, for most of my life I was a bit skeptical of the power of prayer. I had been praying for an end to abortion for years. And for decades the prayers of others had been lifted up into heaven and yet the abortion industry was still thriving. I spoke to God regularly, but deep down I doubted. What is the point of asking God over and over for the same thing? Maybe the answer is “no”? My views on prayer changed dramatically after I met a prayer warrior in Charlottesville, VA. _________ I moved to Charlottesville in the summer of 2010. I had spent the last three years in the humidity of Houston, TX where my wife was completing her medical training. Needless to say, I was looking forward to a reprieve from the heat. And it wasn’t just a change in the weather that appealed to me. While I was in Houston the largest abortuary in the Western Hemisphere was built. Not only had my prayers not been answered to my satisfaction, but they seemed to be having the opposite effect. I had driven thru Charlottesville twenty years prior when I was in college and it seemed like a quiet college town. By any comparison it was going to be a big change from Houston, TX. I was convinced that I would be a modern day Jeremiah standing alone in front of the abortion clinic with my “Pray to end abortion” sign. Although the population of Charlottesville was only 43,500 they had three abortion clinics. The largest of them was Planned Parenthood. After a week or two of settling into my new surroundings I decided to go to the Planned Parenthood clinic and stand alone. When I arrived I was surprised to see the clinic was surrounded by three churches: a Baptist Church next door, a Baptist Church across the street, and a Mormon Church kitty corner. I remember it was a Friday. Coincidentally, the abortions take place every Friday at the Charlottesville Planned Parenthood on Hydraulic Road. I met approximately nine pro lifers that day who told they had been coming to the clinic regularly. Some of them had been standing vigil for years. God was there long before I had arrived (as usual). Among the people I saw that day was a man named Mark, although I didn’t know his name at the time since he didn’t speak to me. He stood as far away from entrance of the Planned Parenthood as possible with his back turned away from the road. And all this man did was pray. I wouldn’t have noticed his commitment to prayer if he wasn’t always there. Nearly every time I visited the abortuary he was there praying. He would pray for hours and then leave – without speaking to me. As the weeks and months passed I became curious about this man. Finally I approached him in the middle of his rosary and I asked him, “Why are you here all the time praying?”

He told me he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and according his doctor he had only a few months to live. And then he had a dream where God told to him to drive to the Planned Parenthood in Charlottesville, VA and pray. It turns out that Mark lived about an hour away near the city of Staunton. At the time four or five years had passed since his original cancer diagnosis. I thought it was a miracle that he had survived for so long. And then he said something else, “You know my main problem is that I don’t get a lot of positive feedback.” I secretly agreed with him, although outwardly I told him something else, “You never know. You’re standing far away from the entrance with your back to the road. You could be having an impact and not even know it.” But that was lie to patronize him. I was suspicious of people who only pray and never talk to anyone. I wondered if people driving by even knew what he was doing. I had been praying for years to no avail. He thought about what I said and responded, “Maybe?” And then he said goodbye and walked across the road to leave – his car was parked at the Baptist Church. A minute or two later a compact red car pulled into the parking lot of Planned Parenthood and a middle aged woman jumped out and immediately started yelling at me. Since I still standing where Mark prayed (far from the entrance) I couldn’t understand what she was saying so I walked down the sidewalk toward the entrance. She was waving with her hands for me to come to her car but I told her it was private property and they would call the police if I walked onto their parking lot. And then she said, “I’m trying to tell you something!” And she walked up to the sidewalk and stood in front me and pointed back to her car. “In the backseat of my car is a little boy – it’s my grandson. He’s alive because when my daughter came here to get an abortion and she saw a man praying and changed her mind. So I wanted thank you.” I told her I wasn’t the one who was praying – but that I knew him and I would tell him. And then I ran across the street in the hopes of catching Mark before he left. To my surprise he was still in the parking lot. I ran up to him and said, “Remember you said you weren’t getting any positive feedback?” He nodded and then I pointed back to the parking lot and told him about the grandmother and her grandson. What I didn’t tell him was that I had received a message too, “Prayer works!” But God wasn’t done. He was just getting warmed up.

A week later I was standing down the street from the Planned Parenthood at a stoplight when a car pulled over and the driver rolled down the window. It was young woman who I’d never seen before. She asked me, “Are you the man who is always praying in front of the Planned Parenthood?” I told her I wasn’t, but that I knew him. And then her eyes welled up with tears as she spoke, “I just wanted to thank him. I was coming to get an abortion and I saw him praying I couldn’t do it. And now I feel horrible knowing that I thought about hurting my daughter because I love my her more than anything I’ve ever loved in this world.” This time I was more prepared and I asked if she could email me pictures of her daughter so that I could show them to the man who was praying and the other pro lifers standing vigil. And here are those pictures and a note from the mother:

“I remember speaking with you that day. I'm not sure why I was so inclined to stop and speak to you but remember feeling like I needed to tell someone my story, someone who changed my thought process when I was trying to decide whether or not I should carry my child to term. I cannot thank you and others like you enough for standing up for what you believe in, because had it not been for you all I may have made a horrible decision and terminated my pregnancy. Londyn is my entire world, and everything I do now is so that I can create a better life for her. Please, do not stop doing what you are doing. I know it may seem like your messages are falling on deaf eyes and blind eyes, but I can assure you that me and my daughter are proof of the power that you all have.” –Kelly

Why had I doubted God? And how could something as simple as prayer change so many lives? And yet these children were alive because of prayer. I started to wonder how many servants of God missed out on similar blessings because they refused to pray publicly in front of these altars of human sacrifice. I didn’t have to look far… three churches surrounded the abortuary and yet none of them were actively pro life. Later that year I publicly knelt of my knees for the first time in my life in the city of Charlottesville, VA to plead for the lives of unborn and their parents. I thought maybe the lesson was finally learned, but God still wasn’t done. He was still just getting warmed up. As the day came for me to leave Charlottesville and move to Dallas, TX for my next adventure I had to say goodbye to some of the greatest spiritual warriors I had ever met. I could probably write a book about what I experienced with all of them and the scripture verses that suddenly made sense as they came to life before my eyes watching them serve God. One of them was a woman named Pam who had co-led the local 40 Days for Life and oversaw the local chapter of Silent No More. I had traveled with her across Virginia videotaping the stories of women who were post-abortive and later turned their lives over to God. I realized I had never asked her how she became an active pro lifer. And so I asked, “How did you become a pro lifer?” She said that she worked at the UVA law school and that one day she had gone to lunch with a group of her colleagues and as they passed the Planned Parenthood they noticed a man praying. And she said out loud, “Someday I want to be like that man.” And then a heated debate over the topic of abortion erupted in the car. And she decided in that moment to become an active pro lifer. Pam would go on to motivate the local pro lifers to expand their coverage to a second abortuary in Charlottesville located on Commonwealth Drive where I saw firsthand many lives forever changed and babies spared. And all because one man was obedient to God and prayed without ceasing. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”- James 5:16 -Steve Steven Lopez Spiritus Films Cell: 832.882.3825 www.spiritusfilms.com

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