Friday, June 8, 2012

God Hear our Prayers in Prison!

Yesterday was not a very good day for prison ministry at all.  I was anxious, ticked off by a number of things and all of my insecurities seemed to surface all at once.  I pretty much asked God for a pass to get out of doing ministry; it never came.  I struggled with the lesson I was supposed to teach; and of all topics: prayer. 

I grew up on prayer. One of my very first Christian memories is on prayer.  My mother prayed incessantly; to the point where it was annoying (I've grown to depend on her prayers).  But like everyone else, I've struggled with prayer.  I believe part of my tension with prayer is due to a lack of understanding as to what prayer is and its power. 

My sisters in prison have been challenging me on the tension I've had with prayer.  For one thing, working with them has shown me my powerlessness to change their realities (past, present and future) and the need and dependency for God who is all powerful and works in supernatural ways to step in, otherwise they have no hope. He is their last chance at life.  And the other challenge they've posed is on my traditional views on prayer. For some reason I've always thought only the righteous prays, and "blatant" sinners must not have anything to do with prayer.  I can't tell you how surprised I was when one of the ladies said: "while I was on the streets (prostituting); I asked God to protect me and I knew He was the one that kept me from this one client who was wanted by the police".  On and On the stories went.  I would drive back from the prison in total disbelief trying desperately to make sense of what these women shared of their relationship with Jesus.

So as I process on the mysteries of prayer, here are some of my observations:

  • Prayer is the act of skooching closer to God.  In prayer we are saying we long to be close to God. I believe some of my sisters in prison understand this concept better than many of us.  They are desperate for the nearness of God.
  • Anyone can pray at any time they choose, with whatever posture they desire, out loud or in silence, and with no specific length of time or amount of words. 
  • In prayer God reveals Himself.  This is my favorite part of prayer.  God wants to show off to us.  He wants us to know that He is a mighty God.  And by answering specific prayers; those spoken out lout and in silence, those you did not think he cared about and those you did not even know to ask, we get to know him better.  And our confidence on who He is, develops.  I love seeing God answer prayers!
  • Persistence in prayer fosters our relationship with God.  Keep praying.  Keep calling out to Him.  Ask for all wants, needs and desires.  Ask for little things and for big things.  Shucks I've been praying for $50,000 (long story) but I've also been praying for God to heal me of my toxic anger that lives deep in my heart and my high blood pressure (yup both related). 
  • Develop a habit for praying. To get better at praying you must develop a habit for it.  Get in a routine, not legalistically but to encourage growth.
  • Pray without Ceasing, 1Thess 5:17: In the shower, as you walk, as you eat, as you play, as you study, in your home, at your job, before a big meeting, after a big meeting, over your children, over a family member living a destructive life, against the enemy, for victory, for protection...wherever you are, whatever you do pray without ceasing, it is our mightiest weapon in fighting the enemy. 
  • In prayer God receives glory.  In other words we make him look great by bending the knee (literally and figuratively) and surrendering our whole being to Him.
So last night, we skooched closer to God in prayer.  The presence of God was undoubtedly amongst us. These women literally cried out to God for healing, deliverance and transformation. And I believe He heard the prayers of His daughters. Let us continue to fight one prayer at a time.

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