#144 My son is in prison…PRAY (really?)
My son is in prison…PRAY! (really?)
This is a kinda controversial idea or line of thinking because there are a few factors involved…one being God, the other, prison, and the third, the idea of prayer.
I’ll get to that in a moment. First off, my thanks to a few new readers who have asked about my prison encouragement certificates, and those who asked about sending a couple of dollars to support my works. I say again to new readers, if you are not COMPLETELY convinced that I am sincere in what I am doing, don’t send me a penny… I don’t want it. The support I want, but only after I have won you over.
Of those that do support me, I am indeed grateful, and it encourages me to do more.
Now, about this subject. This is based on a post I read a year or so ago off a prison site, where the mother was having all kinds of problems dealing with a loved one in prison. After sometime, she got some rough news that her loved one got in some trouble while in prison, and wrote a post for folks to pray for him.
A few days later she made another post saying how things were going, and at the end she encouraged everyone to “pray, pray pray!”.
Let’s talk about that.
And when I say this, keep in mind we are talking about the context of those who have a loved one in prison. Now, I know I don’t qualify as anyone special, and I am no different from most folks, but there are some things that kinda bother me about people who try to whip up people to “pray”.
Something is kinda…out of place when people try to stir others to pray for their loved one. Not something ignorant, but something misplaced. If you have a loved one in prison, it would make perfect sense to pray for him, or anyone for that matter.
But it also helps to have others that can pray for him too…but there is the problem…there are too many open ends to that word.
How many of you REALLY pray? I mean, REALLY pray? If a wife with a husband in prison asked the members of a prison site to pray, and let’s say 100 people read that post…how many would REALLY pray?
I would wager less than half…maybe much less.
“That’s a cruel thing to say, you don’t know those people!”
Yeah I know, it sounds cruel, but if you are really looking for results, then you have to be particular in how you find them. I want to use the example of something I heard I think on ESPN awhile back, regarding the late Chuck Daly, the former head coach of the Detroit Pistons.
It seemed that those in the inner circle knew that he was going to pass soon, so the coaches in the NBA were wearing “CD” pins, in honor of him. It was clear he was sick, and in the hospital, but most of us had no idea how serious it was. But I remember one of the guys on ESPN or TNT say, “we’re thinking about you Chuck, and we’re praying for you”
Now, here is a soul-searching question…did they REALLY pray?
Understand folks, there is a very clear difference between “thinking about” and “praying”. Thinking about a problem does not bring solutions…praying in faith to God can. But too often, we are too lazy to really pray for somebody, so we take the cheap way out and say, “we’re thinking about you” or “we’re praying for you”, when we really are not.
So you tell me which is more insensitive, to imply that most people don’t really pray, or the fact that most people LIE when they say they will.
In the prison genre, it is very critical that faith-filled people pray for others, especially if someone asks them to. I can ask everybody reading this blog to pray for me for a specific thing…but I would wager that probably less than 5% would really do it…the others are just reading, or would “think about it”.
If you want results when praying for a loved one in prison, there are things you can do, and sadly, it does not rely on everybody praying…most of us think that if 500 people get together and pray, everything will be ok…but did anybody ever bother to ask if any of those 500 people had FAITH?
I can get, for example, 100 people to come look at our car, to see what is wrong, but if not one of them is qualified to know anything about it, all I have is 100 people looking at the car! So what are the flaws that some of us have when it comes to praying for someone in prison?
Well, the first starts with yourself. How much faith do YOU have? Sometimes people who ask folks to pray have no faith themselves, in fact the are actually hindering the solution because THEY are the ones with no faith at all. It’s amazing how a person can jump in a prayer circle and beg everybody to pray for their loved one, but they have virtually NO faith at all, in fact focus more on the fear, which counters the faith that others might be applying to their situation.
This is not to say that you have to have all the faith in the world…it is very important to know that when you have a loved one in prison, and you don’t know what to do, that there are others who can pray and add their faith to yours…but you still have to have SOME faith. If we are together building a house, don’t keep checking on me to see what I am doing if you aren’t helping build it yourself…ESPECIALLY if it is YOUR house we are building.
When you have a loved one in prison and have a problem, you have to stir up some faith yourself, and everybody has some measure of it. There have been many times I have written to prison ministries when I was low on faith, while in prison. There is no doubt that the books, magazines and letter I got from many of them kept me in faith. So I know the value of support when it comes to faith.
But sometimes we mislead ourselves when we get into a panic, and run around trying to get everybody else to do what we should be doing ourselves. If your loved one is in prison and there is a problem, you have to fight the good fight of faith too, instead of trying to send “prayer warriors” to fight your battles.
I am reminded of the value of prayer by a lady who recently had some difficulties regarding her son and visits. I won’t get into details, but I remember getting her email and reading the situation. Amongst the things I emailed back to her was to pray. Spiritually speaking, that should be the first thing one should do, then try to calm down so that you are in the right frame of mind to do what needs to be done.
I got a message from her today, and it seems that some avenues have been opened and there may well be some solutions to the problem. I was very glad to hear that because I do believe she got results from praying. I am sure other things happened, but there is no doubt she went to a higher power with her problems.
A lot of people on prison support sites believe in the constant prayer for a loved one, and I guess that is cool…after all, there is a scripture that says, “pray without ceasing”. But I think some folks got that kinda twisted, especially when it comes to prayer for someone in prison.
If you are a mom, and worried about your son in prison, I don’t think you are helping when you keep telling folks to pray, pray pray…. I mean, what are you praying for. Whatever it is you are praying for…don’t you think God heard you the FIRST time?
If you called to order a pizza, and they tell you that it will be there between 30 and 45 minutes, do you call them back in 10 minutes to see if they got your order? Of course not! Why? Because you KNOW they got the order! Do you call 20 minutes later, to “check up on your order”? NO!
Why then is this so much different with prayer? Folks pray for a loved one in prison, or something involving them and prison, and it turns into a circle of prayer, repeating the same request over and over.
But by doing that, you are no longer praying FOR something, you are now worried if God heard you. Its like hit and miss, if I pray now, at 7pm, maybe God will hear me if He isn’t busy…but if so, then I will pray again at midnight. IF He missed it then, I will pray again at 10am…and just in case He missed it, I will have all the members on the prison support site to pray…that way maybe we can’t miss.
Folks, when we do this, it isn’t in faith.
And I say WE because I am right there with you. I am not saying this from the mountaintop folks, I say this as one that has been through these tough times as well. You know my situation and my prayers for finances…there have been days I feel that there was no doubt that God heard me, and the solutions are on the way. But there are days where I feel that either God didn’t hear…or He refused.
And to be honest, I know it isn’t the former…I KNOW as sure as there is a sun in the sky that He heard me. I cannot be convinced that He didn’t hear me…but I wonder if He cares enough to answer. Some days are more faithful than others, but I can imagine some of you are going through similar situations with prison issues.
So I know that faith has to be the major component of prayer when we talk about a loved one in prison. It is the best thing you can do for a loved one, because you are limited in doing anything else. You can’t write to him as much as you would like, or see him or touch him or hear him. And we know that prison is NOT a very kind place, there is much negativity in prison. But if we can find the strength to have faith, that translates to our prayer, or request to God to look over him.
When the scriptures say to pray without ceasing, I do not believe it means to keep asking…prayer is not just about asking God for something. Prayer is a way to communicate, or to fellowship with God. I mean, think about it, would a father want to hear from his son only when he needs something? I mean, its better than not hearing from him at all, but come on!
A father wants to be able to talk with his son, know what he is doing, how he feels and things like that. Is God any different? Again, I am no great person, but I think I know about as much about faith as the next person. But prayer is not just about asking or begging God for favors…which can confuse some folks when it comes to praying for a loved one in prison.
You can still pray without ceasing, but it is what you PRAY about that matters. If you prayed to God for a solution…then believe that there is one coming…then if you pray, don’t keep bringing up the problem. This is a HUGE problem with us as human beings, one I can attest to myself.
A few years ago, when I was at the end of my probation after doing time in prison, I had fallen way behind on my restitution. There was no way I could pay it…and likely there was no way I could pay it from the start. But it would be a violation of my probation, and likely send me back to prison. Not because I did anything wrong… but because I was broke and had no money.
I called a ministry for the prayer of agreement (some of you need to check up on what that really means) and we prayed for a solution. After we finished, I was talking with the nice lady on the phone, and while I was talking to her about our supposed answered prayer, I was slipping back into the problem, and started talking more about the problem, than the idea that we prayed on it. It was then that lady interrupted me and said, “we prayed over that problem, there is no need to go back over it”.
How profound is that!
If you have prayed for a solution…let it go! I mean, if you have a son in prison and he is in a problem, pray on it in faith, and stop worrying about it. The lady on that phone did exactly what a faith filled person was supposed to do…prevent me from slipping in my faith!
After you have made your request in prayer, then by all means continue to fellowship with God by prayer…but stop asking Him over and over to help you when the problem is already there.
When you go back to pray on the problem, it means you don’t think God heard you, or that He has decided to answer yet. And it is so hard because we as human beings expect proof, which God does NOT work with. He moves by faith, which is something you are just not gonna see when YOU want to see it.
Its why moms worry so much about their sons in prison, even if they go to church every Sunday. Its why wives and girlfriends worry so much about their loved ones, even if they get 1000 people in a prayer circle to pray for them. Its because even after prayer, we are still fighting for faith.
My life isn’t perfect, not by a long shot, and I might much rather be in some fancy hotel in Hawaii deciding what kind of nice drink (non alcohol of course) I want to try. But I just have this foolish believe that God has plans for me, and in that has to be something financial. I pray for that, and I would like to believe that my works here may lead to that. But it still requires faith, even in the days where I don’t sell a book for months, or get no support for months. It has to be there even when you fall.
And here is the surprise to you folks…just because you fall down does not mean your faith is gone. It just means it is low. When you pray for your loved one in prison, or if you are in a prison situation and you have prayed, don’t feel like you have lost because you had a bad day…or week…or month. Been there, done that, like everybody else reading this blog.
But what does count is that you have faith, and that you apply it forward, rather than continually talking about your problem. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, as it is said. So if sorrow is in your heart in great abundance, that is what you will speak. If joy or hope is that abundance, that is what you will speak.
And if you ask folks to pray, be willing to do that not just yourself in that situation, but also to pray for others…even if they didn’t ask. If you run across a post where a mom or wife is having some trouble, find time to really pray for them. You don’t even have to tell them that you did, that part does not matter anyway, since it is your faith that counts. I mean, God knows who prayed and who didn’t.
Lots of times folks just want everybody else to pray for them, but not willing to do it for others. Kinda like a friend here who is a Duke fan…as you know, Duke won the NCAA Basketball Championship. But last year UNC won, and I am a UNC fan. My friend kept trying to get me to root for Duke, which I was, but he continually tried to get me to pull for Duke as much as I pulled for UNC. I asked him, “when UNC won the championship last year, were you pulling for them?” He answered a emphatic NO!
Well why are you asking me to do something for you, when you refused to do the very same thing last year? Why ask me to do something you are not willing to do yourself?
(For the record, I am a UNC fan, but I do not hate Duke at all, some fans are too fanatical about sports, and don’t realize that its just a game)
So if you ask somebody on a prison site to pray for your loved one, check yourself first to see if you are putting as much effort in it as you want everybody else to do. And make sure that you are asking folks to pray in faith, not in fear or repetition. It does not matter if you get 1 person, or 1000, as long as they are in faith, you are on the right path.
I know these can be hard times for you, but when you are in a situation where you just can’t be there for your loved one in prison, it helps to know that Someone can be there, and can look after him. I am no pastor, minister, prophet, deacon, bishop or whatever they call themselves, but I do know that prayers can be answered with a little faith. And you don’t need a ton of it to help a loved one in prison…you just need to have some.
Oh well, probably lost a few readers by talking spiritual…and to be honest, my intent was to try to keep my prison blogs more carnal than spiritual. I think that is because I don’t want to lose anybody in what I say, and I need to try to focus more on the things of prison, but I felt compelled to share this for a few people. If you want me to talk more about prison, let me know with an email. As you know, there are many sides to prison issues, it’s not just about what happens in prison. It also involved the mentality of the inmate, what happens after prison and the role that prison support sites are SUPPOSED to have.
But I have chatted too much, today is the last day of the NBA regular season, so I am going to relax and watch some of that. Again, if you want to support my blogs, or if you want to know more about my books, cards and stuff, you know my email… until then….
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