Learn how your prayers can encourage former prisoners as they struggle with the many challenges of reentry.
The challenge of successful, crime-free reentry is enormous. Lack of a place to live and the temptation of old friends are immediate issues that newly-released prisoners face. Praying Christians help provide an important and necessary supportive route back into the community.
Every reentry ministry needs prayer warriors behind the scenes lifting up the needs of ex-prisoners and their families. Your prayers can open doors to a better life and close doors that lead back to the old life. Through prayer, you can push back the powers of darkness that hold people captive and release the power of God to set men and women free.
Prayer ministry can be done anywhere—in your living room, in a Sunday School classroom, at the gym, on a neighborhood prayer walk, sitting on a park bench, on your phone, or via the Internet. Simply get together with a few other Christian friends and begin calling upon the Lord to strengthen and guide ex-prisoners as they struggle to rebuild their lives.
God works through the prayers of His people. So if your church is involved in outreach to ex-prisoners, ask the workers to send you their prayer requests and progress reports. Contact your local Prison Fellowship staff at 800-251-7411 to learn more about reentry needs in your community and to connect with others involved in reentry ministry.
Even when you don’t know specific needs to pray for, you can call on God’s power and provision for a variety of general needs. Download and share this prayer list with others in your church or with anyone who feels called to intercessory prayer. Here is a list of common prayer needs of ex-prisoners.
PRAYER NEEDS OF EX-PRISONERS
PRAY FOR EX-PRISONERS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, THAT THEY WOULD
- Spend time daily in prayer and Bible study
- Experience the abiding power and presence of the Holy Spirit
- Allow God to work in them and accomplish His purpose in their lives
- Become regular in church attendance and seek fellowship with other Christians
PRAY FOR EX-PRISONERS TO GROW IN GODLY ATTRIBUTES, THAT THEY WOULD
- Respect the authority of the courts, the police, and their local parole officer
- Be able to control their temper and exhibit a spirit of forgiveness
- Remain strong in their faith and become more Christ-like every day
- Experience genuine remorse for the harm they have caused their family and community and seek to make amends, if possible
PRAY FOR EX-PRISONERS’ RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR FAMILIES, THAT THEY WILL
- Be committed to restoring damaged relationships with their spouse and children, if at all possible
- Experience reconciliation in strained or broken relationships
- Have patience and understanding with family members who are not ready to trust them again
- Have discernment and wisdom to avoid relationships with family members who may still be involved in addictive behaviors or a criminal lifestyle
PRAY FOR EX-PRISONERS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN THE CHURCH, THAT THEY WILL
- Make godly friends to support and encourage them
- Forgive church members who are afraid of them or prejudiced against them
- Be willing to show themselves faithful in small things before expecting bigger things
- Find a Christian mentor and establish a relationship of trust and accountability
PRAY FOR EX-PRISONERS’ PROTECTION, THAT THEY WOULD
- Recognize temptation and resist the tricks and snares of the evil one, Satan
- Shun drugs and alcohol and seek to live a healthy, sober life
- Be safe from gossip, stereotyping, false accusations, and harassment
- Find safe housing during their transition back into society
PRAY FOR EX-PRISONERS AND THEIR PHYSICAL NEEDS, THAT THEY WOULD
- Be able to obtain appropriate medical care and medications they need
- Be healthy and free from serious illness or disability
- Have adequate food and clothing
- Be able to access a wide variety of community resources so their daily needs are met
PRAY FOR EX-PRISONERS AND THEIR FINANCIAL NEEDS, THAT THEY WOULD
- Be given opportunity to enhance their educational and vocational skills
- Be aware of their God-given talents and seek to use them wisely
- Be able to find a job that pays enough to meet their financial needs
- Become a productive and contributing member of society
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Havana, Cuba, Apr 23, 2004 / 12:00 am (CNA).-
Dozens of Cubans opposed to the Castro government gathered in Havana this week to offer prayers for the release of political prisoners being held in the country.
The gathering was organized by Yolanda Triana, whose husband Orlando Alvarez is one of the 75 dissidents sentenced to lengthy prison terms last year.
Family members of other political prisoners, opposition leaders and a priest from the Orthodox Church participated in the prayer service as well, calling for respect for human rights and freedom for prisoners of conscience.
Triana, who after her husband’s arrest assumed leadership of the Pedro Luis Boitel Association of Political Prisoners—an organization that is considered illegal by the Castro government—expressed her profound concern about the state of her husband, who has been on a hunger strike since April 15.
She said her 47 year-old husband had suffered a heart attack before he was imprisoned and that during the last year he has been diagnosed with diabetes. She also revealed that her husband suffers from hypertension and stomach ulcers and that last December he underwent surgery to relieve an intestinal obstruction.
Triana said she recently sent a letter to Prison authorities explaining her husband’s situation.
Praise the Lord for the release of prisoners in Iran and Laos. Elam reports that Farshid Fathi was released Dec. 21 after serving five years in prison for his faith. Many believers around the world have been praying for Farshid, and some have sent him encouraging letters. Please continue to pray for our dear brother in the coming weeks and months. Pray for protection, and for him and his family as he adjusts to life outside prison.
Farshid was originally arrested on Dec. 26, 2010, along with 60 other Christians, many of whom belong to house churches in Tehran and other cities. Iran’s Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei made a speech in Oct. 2010 in which he stated that house churches should be “dealt with.” A new wave of surveillance and arrests against Christians followed soon after, with house church group leaders such as Farshid singled out for longer detentions. Most of the leaders have now been released. The governor of Tehran, Morteza Tamadon, described the detained Christians as “extremists” who “penetrate the body of Islam like corrupt and deviant people.” He added his belief that they were trying to establish “an extreme form of Christianity like the Taliban and Wahhabis in Islam.”
Farshid, a 35-year-old father of two, was imprisoned without trial in Evin prison for 15 months before being tried in January 2012. Born into a Muslim family, Fathi accepted Christ at the age of 17, and at the time of his arrest was working full-time as a pastor and house church leader.
Open Doors estimates that there are now about 450,000 Christians in Iran, of which the vast majority are from a Muslim background (MBBs). Evidence from the American Center for Law and Justice, Article 18 and Middle East Concern suggest that as of May 2015 there were 90 people detained in Iranian prisons on account of their Christian faith.
There is also good news from Laos concerning an imprisoned believer. After spending more than three months in prison, a Laotian believer who was imprisoned on accusations of evangelism in a small village in Laos, was finally released on Christmas day. Another believer who has been pursued by Lao authorities because of his stand for Christ was also allowed to return to Laos on December 20th, after hiding in Thailand for more than two months. We praise the Lord for answering the many prayers for His release, and for His goodness to these two brothers.
Christianity came to Laos in the 19th century, and although it was not widely accepted among the dominant Lao majority, the Khmer minority responded positively, as did other minority groups. In the mid-1970s, the communist regime carried out a devastating, but ultimately unsuccessful, campaign to eradicate the Christian minority from Laos. The Lao People’s Revolutionary Party took power in 1975, ushering in one of the few remaining Marxist-Leninist governments in the world, which celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2015.
The pressure on ethnic and religious minorities has remained generally high throughout the past 40 years; despite the upheaval in the communist world over the past 25 years, Laos has not seen significant change. The country remains in the firm grip of the communist party and is plagued by internal networks favoring party members’ extended families or close friends. Those without access to these networks find it difficult to get good jobs or to obtain administrative positions. Moreover, without free press in the country, there is no public pressure pushing for accountability. The communist party remains firmly in control, supported by neighboring China and Vietnam.
While giving thanks for the good news of the release of these prisoners, continue to pray for God’s work in these two nations.
How we praise you, Father, for the release of these two men. Use their lives in now to spread the gospel of Christ throughout their nations. What Satan would use to thwart the power of the Church, we call on you to use it to ignite the witness of the Church in Iran and Laos. Protect Farshid and James as they return to their families and re-enter freedom. Grant them both courage and godly wisdom as they return to their work. Speak through their testimony of faith with power and authority. In the name of Jesus, who has set us free from the power of sin and death to proclaim the gospel to a world in need. Amen!
Here are six prayers that you can send to a prisoner or someone who’s in prison now can use.
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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