I wrote earlier this week in my Substack Monday Manna newsletter about my husband, Jeff’s, Racial Justice Pilgrimage he helped organize with a group from our community. I was profoundly moved by so many of the reflections and photos he shared from the trip, but especially the story and work of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative.
I have wanted for some time now to write a prayer for one in prison ever since one of my best friends asked me to, and after hearing more about Jeff’s experience on the pilgrimage, finally did so last week. My family has been impacted by incarceration — a devastating thing that many of you have also experienced and held. And so here is a new prayer I wrote last week, alongside a few Scripture passages. It was powerful for me as I wrote to recall and remember how countless of God’s most devoted followers knew chains and prison walls too.
Regardless of the reason one of God’s children is in prison, God is there too.
A prayer for one in prison…
My God, my Companion,
Your comfort will find me in this cave.
When I hear the clang of closing doors,
sense the shadows of suspicion in voices or glances,
remind me there is no closing to my heart
or shutting out of your Spirit.
No bars or blockades can constrict your
creative work in me,
and for all the finality I hear and fear
you speak new possibility.
Help me, help me, help me, God,
to keep remembering I am more
than what others think of me,
say about me,
tell me that I am…
More than the worst thing I’ve done,
but even the best…
As the outside world beyond these windows
feels miles — and a lifetime — away,
open my eyes, God,
to the new frontiers
inside my own heart.
Within these long hours, Lord,
bring a purpose to my days.
Your pierced hands can hold this pain
with a promise to transform…
It’s part of my story which you can
stretch into something greater,
even if many more days,
even if all my days,
are here in the
heartbreak and hope.
Help me harness the deeper healing
possible in these prison walls,
believing not only I can heal,
but you plan to heal others
through my presence here.
In the loneliness, may I find friendship
with many of your closest followers who lived
in chains and prisons too.
Someday, the darkness and shadows,
the disappointment and shame,
will get swept into a greater serenity
that speaks of how
you never stopped
and believing in me.
And for today,
my heart’s feet can still walk
in full freedom,
for in you,
I will shine.
Genesis 39:20-21 * Matthew 25:36 * Revelation 21:4-5
“Behold, I am making all things new…” Rev. 21:4-5