Because the truth is that as a nation we have not been discussing with horror the people detained and working in jails and prisons that are overcrowded by legal malfeasance...wrongful convictions get the headlines, but those abused by the legal system into accepting plea bargains that leave them permanently wounded financially and their deeply wounded families is not a new story. The coverage of prison condituions during the time of COVID is barely a footnote, although they represent significant numbers. (At one point more than 20% of cases in Ohio were in prisons. And before you get snarky about people "getting what they deserve" remember that those who YOU expect to work in these facilities live in your communities and shop at your pharmacy and grocery store, so be careful about the consequences of your inhumanity.)
We are so busy misusing resources on over-incarceration there is no money left to adequately address the domestic violence epidemic that can dump our children in a struggling foster care system but absolutely leaves them easy pickin's for human traffickers. (Should you have any confusion on this, a minor CAN NOT consent to sex, a detained person CAN NOT consent to sex, an impaired person CAN NOT consent to sex. Pass it on!!!)
Below is a prayer we have been using the past two years as we seek to nourish more just legal systems.
Please pray it today. Let today be the day you ask God to open your heart to ways you can ACT to offer healing and hope to the brokenhearted...and that is all of us.
Prayers for Justice and Legal Reforms
Everything starts with prayer. Today we pray for Your Mercy Lord, that we might find our way to a more just legal system. The current situation is causing so much pain, leading to what seem to be never ending problems with brokenness upon brokenness. So we know that with problems this big we need You. We need You to draw us to a more God-pleasing, Christ-like system of dealing with the injustices of this broken world.
Lord, direct our prayers.
Romans 12:12—Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Be merciful, Lord, to all of us affected by crime, from the victims of crime to those who commit crimes, but also the first responders who come when we are fearful, and all those along the journey through the legal system: judges and juries, prosecutors and defense attorneys, social workers, health care workers, foster care folks, and eventually detention officers and probation and parole staff, classroom teachers and the family, friends, co-workers, church family, neighbors and acquaintances of all these because all are part of the ever expanding circles of damage caused by crime.
Lord, hear our prayers.
James 1:12—Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
We have all been wounded by crime, Lord. We are fearful, Lord. We long for our sense of safety to be restored and our longing for retribution to be fulfilled to our way of thinking. Yet, we acknowledge that even those who participated in the crime are still Your children. And we ask you to teach us to long for their redemption more than for vengeance. We acknowledge that “safety” exists only in You. This kind of deep healing is only possible in you. Praise God that You are bigger than all this.
Lord have mercy on us all.
Revelation 21:4--He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
We lift up the legal system, the criminal justice system up to you, Lord. We expect the legal system to stand in our stead, a thin blue line between safety and chaos – a process where we hope to be protected from those who seek to harm us or those we love. Yet we are learning more clearly each day the price paid by those who wade into chaos and sin on our behalf from the first responders through all the steps in the legal system and social safety net professionals, and finally to the incarcerated folks who eventually return to the free world and their communities and families. We have a special heart for those whom justice fails.
Lord have mercy on them all.
Hebrews 13:3--Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Lord, we have longed to believe that laws protect us although we understand that is not possible; for if laws protected us there would surely no domestic violence, no vehicular manslaughter. We listened to the siren call of politicians’ promises to make us safe by being more harsh, yet now we are less safe than ever. Lord, how do we balance consequences with rehabilitation, balance honoring the pain and loss of victims with the call to prevent future damage by someone who lacks impulse control and the capacity to foresee the damage their actions do to others, both strangers and those they love, but are still your beloved child?
Lord, give us Your Courage and Your Wisdom.
Romans 8:38-39--For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lord, the Pharisees believed they were “right” in crucifying you. Pilot believed he was making the right decision for the protection of his employer’s interest. The crowd provided the noise, the energy to make such stunning injustice seem not only OK but desirable. Lord, we know we have been part of just such a mob as we have demanded to be safer while hiding our eyes from outrageous miscarriages of justice that such fear births.
Lord, break our hearts made hard by fear that we might have tender hearts for those seeking to serve you in new ways, living better lives, reaching back to help those still living in such darkness.
Micah 6:8--He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Christ’s rising announces that we are all restored, rehabilitated, renewed both from our sins and from the ways other’s sins and carelessness wound us. Yes, Lord, we acknowledge we are each and all in need of healing, healing from wounds of body and soul and mind and heart. Yes, Lord, we acknowledge that we are all in need of forgiveness, given and received. We are exhausted from trying to care for ourselves. Today we choose to rest confidently in you. Teach us to forgive and to accept forgiveness!
2 Corinthians 5:18b--All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Protect us Lord, from the lies fear would tell us. Fill our hearts with love for each other, for all your children. Make our tender hearts strong enough to look brokenness and fear and darkness in the face that your love might shine from You through us into a world that is in such utter need of healing, hope, peace, joy, love, truth and light….In need of You.
Lord, have mercy.