A week of prayer
‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my
goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took
hold of me.’ Philippians 3:12 (NIV)
Prisons Week aims to encourage prayer and awareness of the needs of prisoners and their families, victims of offenders, prisons staff and all those who care, reflected in the Prisons Week Prayer offered throughout 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. Amen.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby writes:
The Apostle Paul here speaks as someone who knows the pain of endurance and hopelessness. Tortured and beaten, in prison many times for his faith, he nonetheless spoke to fellow prisoners about the hope he had found in Jesus. He had started as offender, hurting and maiming others, but found forgiveness and new life in Jesus. Yet life did not magically grow easier; instead he had to learn to live with his past, and face an uncertain present of false accusations and persecution for his faith. He was someone kept alive by hope, who endured and persevered in the face of desperate circumstances.
What better inspiration for all those connected to the criminal justice system, than Paul’s words? For the victims who struggle day by day to live with memories and scars, and hope for a better tomorrow; for the staff, who patiently come alongside broken men and women, and walk with them the slow road towards change; for prisoners themselves, trying to make sense of their lives, fighting against the scars and choices of the past and fear of the future; and for the families and friends of those in prison, faithfully visiting and supporting. Paul encourages all not to give up hope, but keep their eyes on the goal, keep going. Yet this isn’t about making efforts and working harder. It is about recognising that in Jesus, God has already ‘taken hold’ of us. That victims, prisoners, staff and families, are not walking this road alone, but God, who loves them, is ready to walk with them. In Prison Week, we stand in prayer with all who carry on in hope, that they would know they are loved by God and have the faith and courage to press on towards new life.
The Most Rev. and the Rt Hon. the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Each day of the week, a new prayer brings into focus a different group affected by prison or criminal justice. Churches and individuals are also asked to reflect on what they might do or offer as part of their response, through the range of Christian agencies and charities involved in supporting Prisons Week.