Seven ways to start praying for your loved one in prison.
If you have a loved one in prison, you are probably concerned for their situation and well-being.
You may feel helpless because of what they are going through and wish you could do more than writing letters and visiting them.
Here are seven ways to start praying for your loved one in prison. Intercession will invite God to do vastly more than any one person could do in their behalf. Start praying for your incarcerated loved one and watch God move in their lives—and in yours!
1) PRAY THE SCRIPTURES OVER YOUR LOVED ONE.
In Hebrews 4:12, the Bible says that “the Word of God is alive and active.” And in Isaiah 55:11, God promises that His Word “will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
It only makes sense, then, to infuse your prayer time with God’s very own powerful, eternal words.
In his book, Praying the Scriptures: Using God’s Words To Effect Change in All of Life’s Situations, author Judson Cornwall states that “when we let the Bible become our prayer, we are praying an inspired vocabulary.”
Almost any Scripture verse can become a prayer. For instance, Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” You can pray this verse as a covering of joy: Your Word says that Your joy would be our strength, Lord. I pray that joy, that strength, over my loved one. Let them not grieve but instead flourish in Your joy.
2) PRAY FOR THEIR PERSONALITIES, TALENTS, AND CHALLENGES.
Ask God to help your incarcerated spouse, family member, or friend submit those areas in their lives that are strengths—and those that are weaknesses—to His care. Only God can take what we might view as an imperfect gift, even our worst parts, and transform them into excellence for His glory.
3) PRAY FOR THEIR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING IN PRISON.
Being incarcerated can lead to feeling isolated, sad, and anxious. Pray that God would keep your loved one from hopelessness, depression, and anxiety. Pray that He would give them a will to be well and to feed on His Word. It’s important to note that many people in the Bible suffered from fear, sadness, loneliness, grief, and despair: Peter, Jonah, Paul, David.
Pray that God would speak to your loved one as He did to Elijah, in a “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12), and that He would provide what they need at this very moment, whether it be encouragement, an invigorating time of exercise, or His protection from any harm.
4) PRAY THAT YOUR INCARCERATED LOVED ONE WOULD MAKE GOOD USE OF THEIR TIME.
As Dan Kingery, executive vice president of correctional advancement at Prison Fellowship®, likes to tell the men and women behind bars whom he serves, “Don’t do the time—use the time.”
Ask God to help your loved one to not spend this time going through the motions, but to see it as an investment that can pay richly later—if they use it wisely. Pray that they would sign up for positive, life-giving programs in their facility, such as the Prison Fellowship Academy®, as well as for Bible study or prayer groups, and perhaps consider furthering their education while incarcerated.
Aaron Pettes, a former prisoner now doing well on the outside, says that, thanks to his praying mother and family, things changed for him in prison when he began living in preparation for the day he was released. He took countless classes and courses, wrote and published two books, and even began an in-prison ministry. Now Aaron works as a reentry specialist helping other formerly incarcerated individuals re-acclimate to their communities.
5) PRAY THAT YOUR LOVED ONE'S KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD WOULD GROW MORE AND MORE.
Ask God to soften your loved one’s heart toward Him, that they would surrender their will to His and seek His ways.
Pray as Paul did, in his letter to the church in Colossae, that God would “fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9).
And pray that their trust in God’s goodness would be anchored deeply within them.
6) PRAY THAT THEY WOULD BE A CONTRIBUTOR.
In your prayers for those in prison, ask that God would give them a sense of agency.
Pray that instead of simply allowing circumstances to take place around them—in prison, this is naturally the structure of things—God would give them the desire to be an agent of change.
This could be something as small as inviting someone to partake in a positive pastime or speaking an encouraging word to a cellmate.
7) PRAY THAT YOUR LOVED ONE WOULD CONNECT WITH GOOD PEOPLE IN PRISON.
While your loved one is behind bars, ask God to make it possible, Kingery says, that they would affiliate or associate with emotionally and spiritually good people that would promote the best in them and expect the best from them. Pray as well that God might provide them with a mentor to provide your loved one with friendship and guidance.
Finally, ask God to show them, and you, His will for this time. Pray that He would teach both you and your loved one how to seek His face and remain close to Him.