Please pray for “R.” He was the only man at our Bible study last Wednesday night. We talked for a while, and Dan and I did our best to tell him about Jesus, and the salvation and healing that Jesus offers him. He said he was going to be released the next day, so. I asked him where he would be going. He said he had no idea. He was homeless, and he was in jail for stealing food, because he was hungry. I mentioned some Christian programs that might help him, but although he knew these programs, he seemed reluctant to consider them. I suspect he might have ”burned his bridges behind him” in some of these programs. My heart went out to him, but there really wasn’t much I could do for him. But at least he got to hear the Gospel for one short hour in our Bible study. As The Lord says in Isaiah:
My word be that goes forth from My mouth; shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11
Please pray for “I.” He is only 19 years old, and he looks even younger. He has been sentenced to New Hampshire State Prison, a much darker place than the County Jail. Please pray for him. He is short of stature, a little chubby, and I fear he will draw the attention of the worst kind of predators. Please pray that he will call on the Lord. I had some good talks with him when he was in the County Jail, but he still wasn’t sure he wanted to turn his life over, and give up things like smoking pot with his friends. Please pray that he will call on the Lord for protection.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
Please pray for “M”. I baptized “M” in the chapel in Maine State Prison in 1998 (I served as Chaplain there, 1987-2006.) “M’ was a bright, likeable young man. He seemed serious about following the Lord. But after he was released from prison,, it seemed that “The World, The Flesh and The Devil” had distracted “M,” and led him down some dark paths. Heroin, alcohol and anger have taken their toll. Now he is facing three more years in prison. I wrote to him reminding him of this verse: Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand”. John 10:27-28
Satan can get us to “backslide” He knows our weaknesses, our addictions, our anger, and our dishonesty with ourselves and with others. When we step outside of the Lord’s protection, Satan attacks. He gets us to sin, we end up in jail, and then he really goes to town. He is The Accuser (Revelation 12:10) He says, ”Look what you’ve done! You’re not a Christian! Just give up on that!” But Jesus says, no one can snatch you out of his hands.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of men who knew the Lord in jail, but somehow lost their way when they got out. When they come back to jail, they feel a lot of shame and condemnation. My duty to such men, as a minister of the Gospel, is to reassure them that there is a way back to God, that he will forgive, heal and restore them if only they will turn to him with their whole heart. Please pray for men like this to come back the Lord with a deeper and stronger commitment than ever before. As the Lord said in Jeremiah 29:13, “ You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Please pray for men who have never read the Bible or prayed before, but seem drawn to the Lord in jail. I once asked a man, “Have you ever read the Bible?” “Yeah,” he said. “I’ve been in jail before.” Please pray for “K.” He is very interested in scripture, but it all seems so strange and new to him I had to show him how Thomas put his hands in Jesus’ open wounds to convince “K” that Jesus really did rise from the dead. ”K” will be released soon. He asked me to send her a copy of the same Study Bible I gave him. I also sent her a list of churches I recommended in her area. Now “K” tells me they are both excited about finding a church and getting involved.
Please pray for our Wednesday night Bible study in the jail. Attendance has been very low. I’ve been leading this class for more than 5 years now. We would usually get 9 or 10 men, but lately we’ve been getting only one or two, and sometimes no one at all. Because of my disability, I need someone to drive me to the jail on Wednesday nights. Drivers are not always available. Because of this, I have to miss some Wednesday nights completely. Maybe if we showed up more consistently, attendance would be better. Please pray for people to volunteer to drive Wednesdays.
And please pray for more people to drive on weekday afternoons. This is when I do “Clergy Visits,” meeting with men individually. Much of the good work the Lord is doing in the hearts and minds of these men takes place in these meetings. They need to talk about their struggles, their anger, and their shame. But these visits also provide me with a chance to share a lot of scripture with them.
One of the men I’ve been seeing on a regular basis is facing a life sentence. We both know what he’s been charged with, but so far we haven’t discussed it directly. But I’ve been able to talk to him about the value of confession, and show him scriptures like Psalm 32, about the great relief it is to finally “come clean” and humbly and honestly admit how desperately we need the forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross. Please pray for him. Let’s call him “Q”
Please pray for the men I talk to be saved. Pray for them to understand that their sins can be forgiven if they put their faith in what Jesus has done for them on the cross. But, I tell them, being forgiven is just the beginning. There is a further work God wants to do in them, Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” I want to teach them how to remain in Jesus and bear good fruit.
The Apostle Paul told the Philippians, “ I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. “(Phil. 1:6) And he told the Corinthians,” The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God..”
Men in jail often have a hard time believing that God has the power to wash, cleanse and purify them of all their sin. And sadly, they see themselves as such losers, failures, and sinners that they don’t deserve to be saved or sanctified. The Lord offers these men deep inner healing, as well as forgiveness. Addiction, broken relationships, and betrayal by loved ones have left them “brokenhearted.” The Lord knows. He cares. And so when these men come to him he binds up their wounds with his healing touch. He redeems their lives from the “pit” of shame and despair
Psalm 103:2-5 Praise the Lord, my soul and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 34:17-18: The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them, he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit .
Psalm 147:1-3:The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Isaiah 61:1-3: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion.
Please pray for the ten men in state prisons who are writing me now. They confide in me about their struggles with sin Pray that the letters I write back will speak to their hearts about God’s love . These are the “brokenhearted” scripture speaks of. And when they draw near to God, he really does bind their wounds and heal their broken heart.
Please pray for me. I have Inclusion Body Myositis. We’ve been told there is “no treatment and no cure” My arms my hands and my legs grow progressively weaker. But I can still teach Bible studies and visit men in the jail In fact, my disability is a lot harder on my wife .For 3 years she has been my full-time caretaker. The work is very tiring and stressful. She does it out of love. Her courage, tenacity and perseverance in the face of my physical deterioration has been a blessing to me. Please pray for the Lord to comfort, encourage, and strengthen her.
My daughter Jessica’s picture shows how Chris transfers me from my wheelchair to my bed. Life is harder for us now, but we still love and enjoy each other despite everything. That shows here too. Thank you, Chris, for your patience and dedication.