Prayer needed

In November of 2008 there will be an election for president. While that is months away, it appears that the candidate selection process may be wrapped up before the snow melts next spring. One of the problems with a two party system is that once the parties pick the candidates, our choices are limited. We have to vote for one of them or cast a symbolic protest ballot by voting for someone who has virtually no chance of winning.

There are deep divisions on a number of crucial issues and not just on policies, but also on moral values. A score of candidates are seeking their party’s nomination and the field seems to be growing rather than shrinking. Who gets elected really matters. It would be easy to hide our heads in the sand or worse to vote based on emotions. As citizens in a republic it is our duty to participate in the process. We have to vote as though ours was the only vote. But how do we know who to vote for? We must search our conscience and pray for God’s guidance, not only for ourselves but also for our fellow citizens. We need to pray that God bless us with wise and righteous leaders.

Given the way the process is speeding up, we need to start praying now.

In the Second Book of Chronicles we have a promise from God that He will hear these prayers:

“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

The outcome doesn’t depend on those who reject God, but on us -- the people “called by His name.” We have to humble ourselves and recognize that as a nation we have been blessed beyond anything we deserve and we have not been as grateful as we should have been for all these blessings. We have to put aside pride and ask ourselves: How can I be a good steward of the blessings God has heaped upon this nation? How can we protect the innocent and promote virtue? How can we resist the materialism and hedonism we see all around us and encourage others to do the same? It’s easy to blame the media or big business or to just feel helpless, but God tells us that we are the ones who must pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. If we do that, He will answer. He can solve impossible problems.

I know that prayer like this works because I saw in happen in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 at the United Nations Conference on Population and Development. You can read the history in George Weigel’s book “Witness to Hope,” but here is a simplified version.

International Planned Parenthood wanted to make abortion an internationally enforceable human right and had assurance of support from the American administration then in power and control of the conference structure.

When the pope was told what they planned, he wrote a personal letter to every head of state. Most ignored his pleas. Then on April 28, he fell and broke his hip. He received a hip replacement but was never again able to walk without pain. Convinced that everything was part of God’s plan, he offered his suffering.

I am convinced God heard his prayer. Others from around the world joined him in prayer for the conference, many spending time before the Blessed Sacrament and some, like myself, felt called to go to Cairo and do what we could. I am still amazed how a month before the conference I was able to obtain credentials, make arrangements, and raise enough money to make the trip. When I arrived in Cairo, I found scores of others who felt called to Cairo and found a way to get there. Many didn’t know why they were called or what they could do, but somehow we found each other and worked together. At the crucial moment, I sat with several others in the lounge saying the rosary. Later, I learned that friends around the world were at the same time interceding before the Blessed Sacrament.

Somehow, in spite of what appeared to be insurmountable odds, International Planned Parenthood and its allies were stopped. I remember how furious they were. They couldn’t believe that in a conference where they controlled everything they had failed.

It was in Cairo that I saw clearly that the votes we cast here have ramifications far beyond our shores. We were defending the rights of pro-life nations against representatives of our own government, and we came within inches of losing.

The battle goes on. At subsequent U.N. conferences the same issues have been rehashed with renewed attempts to force abortion and other aberrations on the pro-family, pro-life countries around the world.

Our beloved John Paul is interceding from heaven, but we need to continue the work he left behind. We need to pray that God will bless America.

Dale O’Leary is an internationally recognized lecturer and author of “The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality.”