Prayers of the Heart

Nov 06, 2018

“Prayers of the Heart”

By Mary Mortenson, Executive Director, PCA 

As you can imagine, a lot of praying goes on in a prison congregation.  Just like ones on the outside, the community gathers in prayer and praise – during weekly worship, in Bible study and other opportunities throughout the week. 

Personally, I like to pray and try to find time to do so in a somewhat disciplined manner every morning.  Sometimes, though, I confess that my prayers become rote, and I have to start over just so I can be fully present in the “conversation.”  Thus, I am always humbled when praying with a prison congregation – there is an authenticity, a nakedness about the prayers that is at once inspiring and heartbreaking.

In a number of prison congregations, the members are invited to share prayer requests – either verbally or in writing so that the congregation can pray during worship, and also so that those of us on the outside can join in those prayers.  I get these prayer requests from two of the female congregations.  I am always struck by the trust these women place in God and in the strangers with whom they are sharing their hearts.  These women are praying, and asking prayers for their children and their relationships.  They want children to be happy and safe and healthy.  “That my daughter has a sense of peace and knows Mommy loves her.” Sometimes the prayer is for strength in the face of termination of parental rights.  Sometimes it is for the healing of a relationship with a partner. These women also pray to be delivered from incarceration, as they express longing for parole, and the chance to start again – maybe before Christmas.  Their prayers are also for others – “…the less fortunate, the hungry, those who just don’t know.” 

These prayers of the heart inspire me every time I read them.  These women - these sisters – dare to believe and proclaim that they are created beautifully by the Holy One, who has always loved them and always will.  As it is true for them, may it be true for us.


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