20th - 27th November 2016
This week marks the beginning of Prisoners Week in Scotland. We want to encourage you to take time this week to pray for all who are affected by crime: people in prison, people who have been hurt by the actions others, those who work in prison, families and the wider communities in which we live. Below there are some suggested items for prayer for each day the week.
Lord, you offer freedom to all people.
We pray for those in prison.
Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist.
Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends,
prison staff and all who care.
Heal those who have been wounded by the activities
of others, especially the victims of crime.
Help us to forgive one another.
To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ in His strength
and in His Spirit, now and every day.
Pray for those who are prisoners
Pray for the men who attend the Sunday worship service in HMP Addiewell. Pray for that ministry and ask that it would grow by God's grace as more men in the prison understand the grace of God in their lives.
It is easy to condemn prisoners, to thank God that we are not like that, to pass judgement and to be content with our own virtue. But for those of us who are in prison it is easy to get angry, consumed by shame or despair, or to assume that nothing is our fault and that life has it ‘in for us’. However, all of us have fallen short of the glory of God, and all of us are in need of his mercy. Whether we are persistent offenders or have never been near a prison, we all need to experience his mercy which leads to the hope of change.
Pray for victims of crime
For those of us who become the victims of crime life may never be the same again. Too often we are trapped by the actions of others into a past that is difficult and painful. The memories can be ever present and the pain seems unending. We may blame ourselves and feel unable to escape a repeating cycle of distress. Help us to be gentle on ourselves, to learn of God’s love for us. Let us be open and ready to accept the healing which his mercy will bring, so that we may move on with life.
Pray for the families
The families and children of those caught up in events over which they have had no control, for which they are not responsible, often serve an unintended ‘hidden sentence’. For those of us whose loved ones are either the victims of crime, or the families of the perpetrators of crime we need grace to remain loving, faith to be constant in offering support, and mercy to be patient when progress is slow.
Pray for our communities
Pray for Rev David McAdam and Mhairi Phillipson who work with Connect to Community (formerly CFEO), which is part of Christian Bethany Trust. Pray for their work in supporting people after their release from prison as they adjust to life in the community.
People in prison have lived as part of our communities, and most of them will return back into these communities. Both inside and outside of the prison walls, community life can fall short of the ideals of rehabilitation and redemption. We all need God’s mercy to be good neighbours to those who were once separated from us by their behaviour and imprisonment; to help them build new lives upon their return, and prevent further harm to others and greater disadvantage to themselves.
Pray for those who work in prisons
Pray for Rev Jim Murphy and Rev Bob Paterson who serve as chaplains in HMP Addiewell.
Pray also for Terry Paterson, the leadership and volunteers of Prison Fellowship Scotland who serve faithfully in the prisons throughout our country.
Pray for those in our own congregation who minister in HMP Addiewell through the Sunday Service and The Academy.
It is easy to assume that we are OK. Rushed and overworked maybe, but basically decent and trying to do a good job in a challenging environment. We can overestimate our own resources and capacities, working hard, doing our best until we hit the buffers of fatigue and stress. We need to know God’s mercy and help in our work and in our whole lives, so that we can continue in our roles, serving in his strength faithfully.
Pray for all working in the criminal justice system
It is difficult and challenging to administer justice, getting the right balance between retribution and mercy, between the hope of change and the need for punishment. To deal fairly with offenders, victims and communities takes fine judgement and those of us who work in this area need God’s wisdom. We need to experience God’s mercy ourselves so that we do not become hardened and disillusioned and can administer justice wisely and fairly, with compassion and grace.
Information adapted from Prisons Week 2016 and Prisoners Week Trust