If I had any doubts about the power of prayer, this prison ministry thing has let me see many, many examples of the power of prayer.
Firstly, it changes me. Like all of us, dealing with the incarcerated leads to lots of temptations to consider ourselves superior to "common criminals," but prayer is a powerful antidote. When I ask God to let me see God in each of them, God answers powerfully. God reminds me that I have done plenty of damage to myself and others by my own willfulness and ego, yet God accepts me just as I am and I have no right to act like judge and jury to others who are also God's beloved children.
Next, prayer poured out comforts and helps those prayed for to open their hearts to healing and new beginnings. This is the promise of Christ and it is working in prisons and within inmates' families across the country.
Then there is the whole praying for each other thing which is one of God's most amazing gifts. If you want to banish conflict in broken churches and families get folks to pray for each other. (See item one: prayer changes the prayer and makes them more open to the Will of God and less fearful and worried about their own agendas.)
In prison ministry the simple fact is that anything that can go wrong will -- at least twice. People volunteer with hearts to serve and situations change and those people can't serve on a given date or make enough of the team building meetings. The team is asked to pray about who they might recruit, then someone new volunteers and along the way you learn why that is the exact person needed to be involved, maybe because of an ability they bring or a perspective they share or because they have a tender and humble willingness to share their own story. Sometimes a guest has a car break down or a baby sitter drop out at the last minute and praying again either brings forward someone to help or comforts the person who must wait until the next time, only to have them call the next week asking for prayers because something happened during the time of the retreat and they really needed to be home that weekend.
People that doubt they have the needed skills step out in faith because their prayerful consideration has stirred their hearts to help and they turn out to be the most amazingly well-suited person who attracts new and effective volunteers, bringings joyous new ideas and enthusiasm, and are examples of service to our program.
In Florida, prisons often look like a concertina wire enclosed junior college campus with several one-story buildings that inmates move between throughout the day. However during storms and heavy rain activities are reduced to a minimum and things like KAIROS weekends get shunted to the "not important" column quickly. But in the midst of a storm, breaks in the rain that allow events to continue have been noted. I've been told by correctional officers that they are happy when KAIROS is on the calendar because in the weeks leading up to the event (as prayer partners and team members begin praying for the guests, inmates, COs and staff of the facility) a calm seems to seep through the facilities.
Personally, my deeply held belief and experiences of prayer in prison ministry give me a passion for prayer that is still growing with each event.
Please pray for us 14-16 October 2017 as KAIROS Outside of Western Missouri serves Weekend #10.