A Prayer for Our Prisoners (for the Manchester, CT National Day of Prayer Observance)

PrisonPrecious and loving God:

So often the prophets have asked us to remember and care for our prisoners. So often the prophets have implored us to set our prisoners free. Mindful of their timeless message, we pray for our prisoners—the incarcerated, the detained.

We pray that our prisoners may find in their hearts the sources of strength and resilience they need to reform themselves, to grow, to learn, to become more wise. We pray that our prisoners who’ve harmed others may find in themselves the longing and the willingness to atone for their crimes. And we pray that those who’ve been harmed may find in themselves the longing and the willingness to forgive.

We pray for the families of our prisoners, that they may find in their hearts the sources of strength and resilience they need to live with the absence of their loved-one. We pray they may have caring souls surrounding them, supporting them in their time of worry and pain.

We pray for those recently released from prison, those re-entering society, often without decent opportunities for gainful employment; often without decent opportunities for housing; often with very little in the way of material possessions; often without even the right to vote. We pray that they may make their way with grace and dignity, that they may find the support and resources they need to live with integrity, that they may thrive.

With these prayers on our lips and in our hearts, we name the hard fact that the United States of America, which is home to 5 percent of the world’s population, incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. And we ask: is this mass incarceration necessary? Does this mass incarceration really benefit our society? Does this mass incarceration make us safer? Does this mass incarceration provide prisoners what they need to become better residents, better citizens?

Precious and loving God: while there is a place for prisons in every society, we’ve gone too far. We’ve built too many. We’ve incarcerated too many. We’ve destroyed too many lives unnecessarily. We’ve destroyed too many families unnecessarily. May we learn, finally, to stop criminalizing and incarcerating poor people. May we learn, finally, to stop criminalizing and incarcerating people of color. May we learn, finally, to stop criminalizing and incarcerating people with mental illness. May we learn, finally, to stop criminalizing and incarcerating people with addictions and substance use disorders. And may our learning manifest in our concerted efforts to reform our criminal justice system. May our efforts become the measure of how far we’ve come in building a more just society, a more beloved community.

Amen and blessed be.

 

Amen and blessed be.

This entry was posted in Prayers & Meditations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *