As 2014 comes to a close, I have become more and more convinced that the prayers of prisoners are special, and that God hears them.
This year I have been blessed to attend a fellowship and bible study with about forty prisoners each week. I’ve been impressed with the nature of these prisoners’ prayers, their subjects, and their reasons for praying the requests. These men have, for the most part, done their time. They are looking toward the future. They are anticipating a return to family, wife or girlfriend…a fresh start…a chance to begin again. Not only do they have concerns about their families, but for the world as well. They are aware of all that is going on in the news, and not only do they have opinions, but they really care. They actually want to pray for others. They no longer look at life through a veil of self-involvement or anger. Now they desire to be part of the solution.
Throughout this past year I have listened with interest to prayer requests that range from needing emotional support as they await review by the parole board, to being highly concerned about family members who are ill or dying. The prayer request that stands out most, however, is one that was made repeatedly throughout the year by one of the volunteers. Her brother had been diagnosed with cancer, and he had persistently resisted turning to God. Our volunteer continued – just as persistently – to ask for prayers that her brother would eventually come to know the Lord. The brother rallied for a while and was able to enjoy a gathering of family at Thanksgiving. Then he took a turn for the worse. He made it to Christmas. Blessings be to God, he did turn to his heavenly Father shortly before his death!
These men also recognize when prayers have been answered, and they joyfully tell of their blessings. To watch as these men grow spiritually is a delight. It warms the soul to witness this. I have a strong streak of skeptic that runs down my back, but, being privy to this faith-filled community has allowed me to see the power of prayer at work.
I have had a special intention for which I’ve been silently praying for some time. Last night I shared my own need for prayer with one of the men there. I told him that if he wanted to pray for me, he could pray for my special intention – and this morning I had a revelation that clarified something huge for me. Coincidence? I think not.
“For the Lord hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.” Psalm 69:33
Yes, I believe God hears our prayers…including the prayers of prisoners!