As you turned your calendar this month and November was spread out before you, were you overwhelmed with the reality that the holidays are looming on the horizon? If so, you may have experienced a bit of panic as you thought of all the tasks that lie ahead. Or perhaps you were filled with joy at the thought of getting together with loved ones, delicious meals, happy parties, and family traditions. Perhaps you remembered that Thanksgiving will be a time to give God thanks for all the bounty of your life and Christmas will be time to give thanks for the greatest gift of all, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope you remembered that.
But does this season of the year ever get so busy that you forget the real meaning, the original meaning, for your celebrations? Do you get carried away with the festivities and caught up in the social whirl? Maybe you even complain sometimes about the busyness that sweeps you along like a rip current. But what if there were no family get-togethers, no parties, no homemade meals, no gifts to shop for, no trees to decorate or cookies to bake or lights to hang on the front porch? What if all this was suddenly snatched away from you?
I find it hard to even imagine what it would be like if I were not allowed to cook for Thanksgiving dinner, go Christmas shopping, make fudge for my neighbors, put up the porch lights, smell the fragrance of a pine tree in my living room, or even share a “Merry Christmas” greeting as I do my usual errands around town. But if I were a prisoner in a correctional institution I could do none of those things. Have you ever stopped to consider what it would be like to be incarcerated, especially during the holidays? Please take a few minutes to stop and think about it. Then take some time to pray for those who do not have the freedom to shop for gifts for their children or visit their family or cook up special treats for friends. Consider the loneliness of being behind bars during the holidays and the despondency, depression, despair, and suicidal thoughts that often result. Consider that there are 2.4 million prisoners in the United States experiencing that today as you read this blog.
Those who lead Disciplers classes for the incarcerated see the problem first hand and they pray passionately for God’s beloveds and all lost souls behind prison bars. One faithful leader tells us, “These prayers are vital, for it is the prayers of the ‘Outside Church’ which the Lord will use to help enable and empower His ‘Prison Church’ to experience victory! Imprisoned Christians live on a most unique mission field -- a mission field where Satan has always maintained many strongholds. However, the One who lives in God’s beloveds equips them with divine power to destroy those strongholds! On the battlefield of the mind, God’s beloveds can destroy every argument and lofty opinion that Satan raises against the knowledge of God as they choose to take every thought captive to obey Christ! Lord, remind them that they have that choice!”
So I would like to ask you to take a few moments a day out of your busy schedule this holiday season to pray for the lost and lonely souls behind bars. Christ died for them. Would you deny them a few moments of prayer? The prayer requests below are directed primarily toward Christian prisoners, that they may find victory and be examples and extensions of God’s love and mercy to the rest of the 2.4 million incarcerated souls. May God lead you as you pray.
1. Pray that the Holy Spirit might enable God’s beloveds in prison to focus on all their blessings in Christ instead of the physical and material blessings that are lost because they are incarcerated. May their hearts be filled with joy at the thought of their spiritual blessings (see Ephesians 1:1-14). May they have a desire to share those blessings with others as they remember they are children of the King and have great riches because He is their inheritance
2. Pray that even though their problems loom huge in front of them, they would see God as their sovereign Problem Solver, recognize His power over the enemy as being real, and rest in Him.
3. Pray that God would move in the hearts of family members of the inmates, compelling them to visit and encourage their imprisoned sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, husbands and wives. May visits by friends and family be a reminder to the inmates that God remembers them and cares.
4. Pray that God would Scripturally equip and empower His imprisoned beloveds so they may not be reliant upon prison volunteers but have ability and joy in encouraging and exhorting each other. In this way, may they be a light to other inmates and have opportunity and power to offer comfort to those who are lost.
5. Pray that the Lord will allow His Scripture to run rampant through the minds of those in His “Prison Church” so when Satan attacks they immediately remember God’s words to strike down Satan’s lies.
6. Pray that God would encourage the inmates with new purpose by revealing to them the power they have to encourage themselves and each other through prayer and Scripture. May the enemy’s distractions be used by God to deepen their commitment to Himself, leaving them with the desire to be wholly dominated by and devoted to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
7. Please pray for the children of those who are in prison. Pray that God would protect them physically, emotionally, and spiritually and shower them with His mercy and compassion.
8. Offer your own prayer, as God leads, for all prisoners and their children. May the power of the Holy Spirit be unleashed to touch their lives so they may live every day, NOT JUST SOMEHOW but TRIUMPHANTLY!