I never expected the prayer requests written by women in jail to knock the breath out of me, but they sometimes do. I am ashamed to say that I never expected to be challenged and encouraged in my own faith by the prayer requests of the women in the Bible studies I teach, but that happens with great regularity.
When I joined Audrey teaching Bible studies in jail, she was passing around paper so the women could write out their prayer requests. She would type up the women’s prayer requests and email them to a group of people who formed the prayer team for the jail ministry. I thought that was a great idea, and it is something I have continued. If you would like more information on the jail ministry prayer team, click here.
As you might expect, we do get a few of the “pray I get out soon” type prayer requests. It took me a couple months before I realized that is no different than when I pray for God to help me with my difficult and challenging circumstances. That was a convicting and humbling realization!
I would like to share a handful of prayer requests my “my girls” that I have saved because they touched my heart:
- “Please pray for me that I continue to seek God and that He helps me through my daily struggle. I’m thankful for Him saving me and coming into my life. I’m so thankful for His everyday blessings.”
- Please pray for me to become more attentive to the knowledge and wisdom in the Bible.
- Please pray I have a hunger for His word and get understanding and find truth and learn to trust in what He says.
- Dear Lord, I know I’m so lost without You. Please God, give me the willingness to know You more and to love like You love. I want to ask You to teach me to love You more.
- I would like prayer for my repentance. Give me the desire to live for You and read Your Word with understanding.
And here is another topic that comes up fairly frequently:
- I thank God for His blessings in my life, and for making it possible for me to be sitting here in jail. I say this because it was the extra push I needed to get off the street and stay clean.
- I’m very grateful the Lord brought me here. It’s not the best place to be, but I know this is where the Lord, my Lord, needed to put me to help me understand Him.
I am humbled by those prayer requests, and the ones we receive each week in the jail Bible classes. My prayers have been in the “get me out soon” category much more often than I would care to admit. I am not always offering prayers of gratitude when I’m in difficult circumstances. I all too often forget to ask God for wisdom, guidance and understanding in His Word. I don’t always acknowledge my “lostness” without Him, or seek His help with repentance of my sin. I am not always thankful in the midst of my difficult circumstances. These women have taught me a lot over the last few years, and it is such a privilege to serve them.
But this one sentence prayer request from a young woman in a class about three years ago is probably my all-time favorite:
- I’m reading the Bible, and the forgiveness Jesus offers sounds so incredible, but I’m just not sure I am willing to give up my sin…
“I’m just not sure I am willing to give up my sin…” That kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it? That woman understood that anything less than true repentance would be a wrong response to the gospel message of the forgiveness of sin through following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The raw honesty expressed in that simple prayer both amazes me and encourages me. It is just one of the things I absolutely LOVE about “going to jail”!