I spent the afternoon praying with women, who were recently released from prison, and I noticed something I think is worth sharing:
Incarcerated mothers are just exactly like the rest of us.
The moms I prayed with are just ordinary moms, who happen to have spent some time in prison.
Like every mom I know, they regret their mistakes and obsess over who is taking care of their kids. They worry about the bad influences their kids will be exposed to at school, and they wish they could put them in a bubble of protection forever. They love their children like crazy and are ridiculously proud of their gifts. They hope their kids will make better choices than they have, and they want them to have better opportunities. They miss their children when they don’t get to see them every day.
Incarcerated mothers are just exactly like you and me. The only difference is: their mistakes were illegal and got them sent to prison, and they have to rebuild their lives from scratch now that they’re out.
The funny thing about praying with incarcerated mothers is what a humbling gift it is for me, a pretty straight and arrow middle class mom in active ministry. Who knows? If my life circumstances and circle of influences had been different, perhaps I would be the one trying to rebuild my life and relationships after making mistakes that landed me behind bars.
Personally, I don’t think Jesus asked us to visit the prisoners entirely for the prisoners sake-I think He asked us to visit the prisoners to free ourselves from our own pride in thinking we’re somehow any better than they are.
Thank You God for loving us unconditionally and forgiving us, no matter what mistakes we’ve made. Please bless us with the gift of humility in realizing that all of our blessings come from Your grace, and give us hearts, time and resources to serve those, who are less fortunate than we are. Help us to grow in faith, ever closer to You, and give us the grace to draw others to You as well. In Jesus name we pray, Amen
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Have you ever been in prison or known anyone who has been? What have been your experiences with prison ministry? Comment below, and I’ll lift you all in prayer.