The morning after Politico published a leaked Supreme Court opinion draft showing the justices could soon overturn Roe v. Wade, the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm did more than publish a statement praising the news. It also brought people together to pray.
On Tuesday, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission hosted a brief prayer gathering meant to help Southern Baptists process the report and prepare for a post-Roe future. Speakers, including the Rev. Ed Litton, the SBC’s president, asked God for help caring for women, children and the whole country in the days ahead.
“This is a moment that calls for prayer,” said Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the commission, as he kicked off the virtual event.
By the end of the gathering, seven distinct prayers had been offered on a range of abortion-related topics. Speakers urged God to be with young mothers and anxious fathers, and to help Southern Baptist churches serve their communities well.
“This may be one of the greatest opportunities we’ve faced in North America and around the world to bring hope and help and healing,” the Rev. Litton said.
Leatherwood closed the event with a prayer for the individual justices on the Supreme Court, asking God to help them navigate the fallout from the leak and help those who are interested in overturning Roe to stand firm.
“Father, there is no doubt that this draft that has been leaked is sewing seeds of distrust and maybe even discord between those justices. I ask you to give them collectively the wisdom to navigate this challenge to their work,” he said.
The event showcased some of the many roles prayer can play in the lives of people of faith. Prayer can be a moment of quiet, calming reflection, an emotional plea for help or a call to action for the entire community.
On Thursday, which is the National Day of Prayer in the United States, prayer, for many, will be an expression of patriotism. The annual holiday calls on Americans to pray for elected officials and the country as a whole.
Recent research from Deseret News and The Marist Poll showed that politics is a relatively popular prayer topic among U.S. adults all year round. More than 4 in 10 Americans (43%) say they’ve prayed for a politician, according to the Faith in America survey. Just 18% said the same about sports teams.
Still, political prayers are nowhere near as common as prayers for people closer to home. Nearly 9 in 10 U.S. adults (86%) say they’ve prayed for a family member, the survey found.
The Deseret-Marist poll was fielded in January among 1,653 U.S. adults. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
The Faith in America survey showed that more than half of Americans (53%) pray at least daily. That’s more than twice the share who don’t pray at all (22%).
“These findings are similar to those reported in a 2007 Pew Research poll when 58% of Americans reported they prayed daily, and 18% said they prayed seldom or not at all,” researchers noted.
The poll also asked respondents if it’s possible for prayer to strengthen the country, a claim that underpinned the formal launch of the National Day of Prayer seven decades ago. Around two-thirds (68%) said the U.S. would be better off if more people prayed for each other.
During Tuesday’s event, Leatherwood repeatedly alluded to that belief as he shared his thoughts on the power of prayer. The country is in turmoil after the opinion draft leaked, and we’ll need God’s help to find peace and healing, he said.
“Much can change between now and the final decision,” he said. “It’s appropriate for us Southern Baptists to come together and pray.”