Here are six prayers that you can send to a prisoner or someone who’s in prison now can use.
Table of contents
Prayers for their Family
Father, we pray for those who are incarcerated, but we also pray for their families that they would receive the care and attention they need, and have their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs met by other family members, friends, church members, or someone else. Please Lord, allow them to keep their hope alive that a family member behind bars is still not forsaken or forgotten by God if they have trusted in Christ; if not, we pray for them to know Your Son, Jesus Christ. May the families find comfort from others who are in similar situations and that they would be praying for one another. Oh Righteous Father of Mercy, I pray for these men and women who are cut off from their families and who are serving time behind bars. As you know, it is very hard being separated from loved ones. I pray these inmates may be able to see themselves as you see them, and that they are a child of theirs and are co-heirs with Christ, just as much as those who are out in the world. We know, if they never get out, we will all meet together someday at the great wedding feast of the Lamb of God. If they are able to be released, please shield them from the judgment of others because they have already paid their debt to society, and they are now free. They shouldn’t be referred to as a criminal, con, or anything but a child of God…just like we are. Many of these men and women face that double jeopardy every day of their life after prison, so help others see them as forgiven and cleansed, and a child of God, and treated with respect and not treated as if they’re still guilty. I pray this in the name that is above all names, the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
Prayer for Peace of Mind
Father God, I pray for those prisoners who are behind bars and that You give those who’ve trusted in You, peace. Please help them to know that You are sovereign over all things and that much good can come from bad (Gen 50:20; John 3:16), and in even these men and women’s darkest hours, You are their true source of light which is found in Jesus Christ. I pray that you give them the peace that Your Word promises for those who believe in Your Son (Rom 5:1) and please help them to know they are no longer condemned (Rom 8:1). With the comfort that You give us, please give to them Lord, so that they might pillow their head tonight in peace, knowing that if you would come tonight, those doors would be open forevermore. I ask this for the glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ, in Whose name I pray, amen.
Protection from Danger
Father God, truly only You know how these men and women feel at this time. We cannot know exactly what they are living through right now. The world seems to be getting more dangerous every day Lord, and maybe for these men and women who might live with that fear. In Your sovereign providence, it pleased You to call out some of these in their darkest hours, and to become new creations in Christ (2nd Cor 5:17); to a new life in Christ. Help see that they can run to You Father, for You are a Rock and a Shield to those Who trust in You. In Your great wisdom God, You sometimes use hard places to soften hearts, and in such darkness, your grace is more amazing. Not many of us are great in the eyes of the world, but You have no respect for persons. You reach out to those who humble themselves Father, so help them submit to You and be set free from their fear by trusting in You. Please Father, protect them on the inside so that they would be able to study Your Word, be a witness to those still sitting in darkness, and submit to authorities which is submitting to God (Rom 13:1-5). God, You alone know the future of these men and women; help them to rest in Your sovereignty. Help them to know they can trust in You. For those who have not trusted in Your Son and received eternal life, please set divine appointments for those who are Christ’s witnesses inside the prisons, and keep them safe from harm while being His voice. May You receive all the glory for these men and women’s lives that’ve trusted in You, and in the mighty name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.
Hope in the Future
Great God in heaven, thank you for those who have received eternal life in Jesus Christ, and for those who have been born again behind prison bars. Please Father, enable them to see hope that is found only in Jesus Christ. Give them a desire to seek Him, and to long for that eternal home when all of the present, evil and suffering will be history (Rev 21:4). Please send them Your Spirit to point them to Your Word of hope in Your Holy Word, the Bible. Apart from You, and Your Word, we could not know You or Your Son, Jesus Christ, so thank You for granting us Your mercy and giving us Your grace, and for those who You have pardoned, even if the state has not, they are seen as having Jesus’ righteousness (2nd Cor 5:21). Help them to see that You have pardoned them, without parole, and loved them unconditionally. Lord God, allow them to fix their eyes on You, and the hope for a future we can’t even imagine, and that hope is found in Christ, in Whose precious name we pray, amen.
Using Bad for Good
Father, we know You can even use evil for good. All we need to do is to look at the cross, so help these men and women who are incarcerated to know that everything in our life, good and bad, is for our ultimate best (Rom 8:28). Sometimes we don’t always understand how bad can be good. Help these prisoners to see that God is not going to give up on them, because Your Word shows that You forgive their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. If these prisoners are able to see that You are still working in their life Lord, they might have hope and know that You have promised to never leave them or forsake them (Deut 31:6; Heb13:5), even when they or we forsake You. Help them to take You at Your Word, and not use their feelings to guide their beliefs. Perhaps You can use others to help them inside the prison Lord, for nothing is too hard for You. Allow them to see the good that can come from where they’re at now, and even if it looks bleak, good will come from it, and in Jesus’ strong name I pray, amen.
For Such a Time and Place
Great God in Heaven, You alone determine the future and know that which is not yet, so help these men and women to see that You have a purpose for where they are now, and know that You can use anyone for Your glory and for Your purposes, including them. We know that You have commissioned us to make disciples of all nations, and that includes those who are incarcerated. Father, may You use these Christians behind bars to bring others into the kingdom by pointing others to Jesus Christ and trusting Him. They realize that You have allowed them to suffer the consequences for their own actions, yet I realize You may use them to reach others behind bars where we cannot, so please Father, make divine appointments for these Christians in prison, and allow them to cross paths with those whose heart You have prepared for the Word, and in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus expects His church to visit those who are in prison. He said, “I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:36), and this is how He sees it; “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40), but we can’t forget about these inmates families either. They need ministering too. If we minister to prisoners and their families, we do it for Jesus, but more importantly, what you do for the inmate’s families, you have done to the inmates. Ministering to prisoners is needed, but so is ministering to the families. They too are in a hard place, mentally, emotionally, and probably financially. Plus, they often live under “guilt by association,” unfair as that is, so they need all of the care and compassion they can get.
Something more for you to read: How I Was Set Free in Prison
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Those in prison need strong prayers at a time when they are often incapable of praying for themselves. This prayer for those in prison using Scripture can be prayed by family members, congregations, prison outreach groups and intercessors.
Prayer for Those in Prison Using Scripture
Dear Heavenly Father, we pray your love and mercy for those who are in prison that your love might reach them through whatever means you choose to use. We can’t imagine the dark, sorrowful, desperate paths that have lead up to this period of the life for those in prison, yet we know that even darkness is not dark to you. (Psalm 139:12)
You see our brothers and sisters in prison as your beloved child. You knew them before they were born, you saw them in the secret place in their mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13, 15, 16) The angels rejoiced at their birth, and your guardian angels stood by, waiting and hoping for a chance to be called by their prayers of need to aid them in their hour of decision. (Matthew 18:10)
Father, we know that deep healing needs to take place in their lives for the scars they bear from a life that wasn’t kind or fair, a mental disease that wasn’t manageable or treated properly, a temper that never knew the bounds of discipline, an addiction that never let go before it consumed them, a group of friends who were wiling companions on the path to destruction, a loved one who was abusive and violent, a life situation so desperate that it would break the best o f us, a heart so calloused that it could no longer see others with respect.
When we look at the history of our friends in prison, we sometimes feel overwhelmed by their challenges and the barriers to their inner freedom. Yet you are the one who says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32) So we boldly pray that Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life will be given access to their imprisoned heart, soul and mind. (John 14:6)
It says of Jesus, “A bent reed he will not break off.” (Isaiah 42:3) You, Oh Lord, did not come to condemn those who already feel rightly condemned, but rather you came that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 3:17, John 10:10)
It also says in your word, “Therefore, there is now on condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1,2 New International Version)
You say, “Behold I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5 King James Version) And you say, “If anyone is in Christ Jesus he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” (( 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) You say, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18 KJV)
You are our loving Savior who on the cross and in mortal pain yourself said to the dying thief being executed justly for his many sins, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NIV) All the thief had to do was to look with pained eyes toward you, the suffering savior and ask with faith that defied the utterly impossible circumstances, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42 NIV)
You also say in your word in Psalm 107: “Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for me, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” (Psalm 107; 10-16 NIV)
Our brothers and sisters in prison are behind literal bars of iron, but they are also behind bars of inner bondage to the things that have brought them to commit crimes against others. We pray about the forces of evil that seek to continue to hold and eventually destroy these dear ones. We claim, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (John 4:4 NIV)
We bind Satan and all of his evil plans, worked both through our dear ones and in them. We declare the evil one as the thief, robber, liar and murderer who is the father of all transgression. (John 8:44) We bind Satan, we cast him and his demons out, and we loose the power o f the Holy spirit in the dear ones he has so long help captive to his evil desires. (Matthew 18:18)
We pray for your protecting grace for our brothers and sisters in prison from harassment, threats of violence and from the evil influence of fellow inmates. We pray your protection around their bodies, minds, souls and spirits. (Psalm 91)
We now declare them the children of God that they were born and the children of God that they are becoming through the shed power and blood of our strong Savior, Jesus Christ. We speak freedom, health, healing, wholeness, forgiveness, repentance, reconciliation, restoration, peace, truth and hope into their lives. We pray that instead of ashes their lives might be a garland of praise. (Isaiah 61:3) We pray for a blinding conversion experience as experienced by St. Paul on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:1-22)
We travail in prayer, begging for your mercy, begging that this prison time will be an opportunity for you to reach our dear ones with your healing power.
We pray for the family members of those in prison, for the husbands, wives, parents, sons and daughters and grandparents. Encourage and strengthen them. Provide for their needs. Hear their prayers and comfort them daily.
We know that the road to recovery for our brothers and sisters in prison will not be an easy one, so we pray your special grace and help for this journey. Help them to find those who truly love them with the love of the Lord who will be mentors, friends and prayer partners on their journey of healing and wholeness. We pray especially for prison chaplains, social workers, caring family members, fellow inmates who are Christians and for Christian groups such as Kairos and other prison fellowships that minister to those who are incarcerated. May they bear your strong love to many.
May healing begin today and continue on step by step all of the days of their lives. We pray in the strong and powerful blood of Jesus Christ, our Risen Savior and Lord. Amen.
Other Helpful Ideas
Prayer for adult children with problems
Standing in the gap in prayer
How to pray Scriptures
Travailing in prayer
Losing hope prayer: using personal prayer to restore hope
Copyright Karen Barber 2014. All rights reserved.
Become a faithful prayer warrior lifting up the needs of prisoners and speaking blessings into their lives.
For any prison ministry to be truly effective, it must have a solid foundation of prayer. In prayer we call upon God for resources that He alone can provide in our battle against the spiritual forces of darkness.
If you are part of an in-prison ministry, you know that prisoners have many prayer needs. They desperately want prayer for themselves, their families, and their future reentry back into society. All you have to do is say, “May I pray for you?” Prayer touches the deepest hurts of those who feel so lost, lonely, and unwanted by the world.
Every in-prison ministry team needs prayer warriors lifting up the needs of the prisoners as well as ministry volunteers. But prayer ministry for prisoners does not require going to the prison. Even if you’ve never been inside a prison or jail, you can be a prayer warrior interceding before the throne of God for those who are incarcerated.
You can simply gather at a friend’s house with a few other intercessors and pray for prisoners. If your church has a prison ministry, ask them to start sending you the prayer requests so you can lift them before the Lord.
Even when you don’t know specific needs to pray for, you can seek God’s power and provision for a variety of general needs.
Want to encourage people to pray for prisoners? Download and share this prayer list with others in your church or with anyone you know who feels called to intercessory prayer. Here is a list of common prayer needs of prisoners.
PRAYER NEEDS OF PRISONERS
THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Pray for prisoners and their relationship with God, that they would:
- Experience His love
- Accept Christ as Savior
- Allow God to work in them and accomplish His purpose in their lives
- Earnestly seek God and get involved with chapel services and other Christian programming offered within the prison
Pray for prisoners to grow in godly attributes, that they would:
- Respect the authority of the prison staff
- Be able to control their temper
- Exhibit the fruit of the Spirit
- Experience genuine remorse for the harm they have caused their victims, and that they would seek to make amends as appropriate and possible
THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR FAMILIES
Pray for prisoners’ relationships with their families, that they will:
- Be committed to keeping in touch with their spouse and children
- Be able to maintain a strong connection with their family, despite being separated
- Experience reconciliation in strained or broken relationships
THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PRISONERS
Pray for prisoners and their relationships with other prisoners, that they will:
- Make godly friends to support and encourage them
- Stay away from harmful associations that will lead them astray
- Be a friend to the lonely, the discouraged, the lost
Pray for prisoners’ protection, that they would:
- Resist the snares of the evil one, Satan
- Shun drugs and other types of contraband that get into prison
- Be safe from sexual assault and other forms of victimization
- Be healthy and free from serious illness
Pray for prisoners and their future, that they would:
- Take advantage of prison programs to enhance their educational and vocational skills
- Be wise in the use of their God-given talents
- Seek the wisdom and resources they need to adjust to reentering society: job, housing, supportive friends, etc.
THEIR SPIRITUAL MATURITY
Pray that Christian prisoners will:
- Remain strong in their faith
- Find a volunteer mentor to encourage and disciple them
- Have strength and courage to witness to other prisoners
- Resist temptations and remain good role models
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Daily, we’re bombarded with stories popping up in our social media feeds or inboxes, and we’re often left shocked or sorrowful. You may even share the story with a friend, but what happens after that? That story slowly slips from your mind…
Now, put yourself in those events and circumstances, placing yourself as a victim facing the same trials you just read:
…You feel the cold prison floor during an icy North Korean winter. The guards are being especially harsh this week, and you can’t remember when a piece of bread was thrown your way.
…You look into your child’s eyes and tell them there is still nothing to eat, as you embrace them and feel their bloated belly and rib bones popping out.
If you personally experience something, it doesn’t quickly fade.
In His infinite wisdom, God knows this about the human experience, that is why in Hebrews 13:3, we’re commanded: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated since you also are in the body.”
When we support the persecuted church with an attitude of “us” helping “them,” our help will not be done in unity. This is not what God intends.
We are called to remember them as if we were in their shoes. We are called to be in prayer for them as if they were standing right in front of us. God knows that when we consider ourselves as ONE with the persecuted in the Body of Christ, believers facing trials will be upheld and strengthened in all they need.
How do we do this? Oftentimes, our schedules and own problems sometimes take up every minute of our day. How can we pray for the persecuted, as Hebrews 13:3 says, “as though we were in prison with them”?
Not many of our readers are in prison for their faith right now, but here are 5 creative ways we can be One with our persecuted brothers and sisters in chains and fulfill our command from Hebrews:
Visit a prison near you and pray with inmates
This may stretch you out of your comfort zone, but this will give you a tangible experience of what our brothers and sisters are facing around the world behind bars . See if your church extends themselves in a prison ministry and get involved. This will open your eyes to the challenges Christians face as they seek to share the gospel with others behind bars, too.
Read about prison conditions in countries where Christians are often incarcerated
It so much easier to stand with persecuted believers in their shoes if you know some of the specific things they are facing. Eritrea, for example, has a long history of human rights violations and often keeps their prisoners in shipping containers. Prisoners are confined within metal walls, which amplify the hot desert days and freezing desert nights. Whenever you see a shipping container go by on a boat or train, this can be a reminder to pray for believers facing these conditions in Eritrea. Other countries to research are North Korea or Iran.
Make it a habit to pray for them
As mentioned, sometimes it can feel like we are simply too busy to pray. As D.A. Carson says, “If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. Cut something out.” Look at your schedule and find a 5 minutes window (or more) to pray for a few imprisoned Christians by name. Set a daily alarm on your phone or make a habit of praying while you eat breakfast or brush your teeth each day.
Create an experience for your family or small group
This does not need to be drastic, but can be used as a helpful tool in teaching your family or small group about the realities persecuted Christians face behind bars. Choose a time to eat a simple meal on the ground , and as you gather, use the time you eat to pray for those eating even less than you in even harsher circumstances. Reference Christian names linked above or discuss the countries where believers are in prison today, found on the World Watch List.
Do a word study for the words “persecution,” “affliction” or “trial” in your Bible
God has a heart for those facing persecution for His Name, and we can find much encouragement when we dig into His Word and study what He says about it. When we are washed with the truths that, “suffering produces endurance,” and that, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” we will begin to pray more biblical prayers and continue to remember our brothers and sisters in chains as we study and pray.
To dive in deeper where believers are often imprisoned for their faith, learn more on the World Watch List, which highlights the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution for the faith around the world.
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