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All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Friday, November 30, 2018

When prisoners pray


The prayers of oppressed people are especially precious in God's sight. As you have advocated for them, they will advocate for you. Rev. Celia Hastings, Ellsworth, Michigan

Prayer makes a difference. No one can shake my belief in that truism.

I look back at 2010, when a deadly staph infection attacked this old body. Loss of the ability to swallow, loss of 65 pounds, functioning on a feeding tube for 6 months, family gathering in a prayer that Dad will survive. It was a dark scene.

I wasn’t buried in discouragement, but I wondered if I would ever play the organ in church again, or go to Fricano’s for pizza and beer again.

Prayers of family, friends, and church were abundant, and I'm certain they played a significant role in pulling me through. But I was amazed by the intensity and frequency of prayers from prisoners, some whom I had never met or even helped.

Fast forward to the year 2018. On the day before Thanksgiving another sinister attack on this 82-year-old body. Sore arms in the middle of the night, heavy chest. What the…? Yep, heart attack. Open heart surgery to give me three bypasses. 

I have survived again. Physicians and medical attendants were not only pleased, but they were also amazed. I credit so much of this, once again, to prayer. 

Yes, prayers of my family and friends and my loving church. But also those of friends we have made around the world in this prisoner advocacy business. And then factor in the prayers of prisoners, their families and their loved ones. When the word got out our office was swamped with caring messages and assurances of prayer. 

I’ve been given a new lease on life, and I intend to continue helping those behind bars. My friends.

Says Lori Hadacek Chaplin in the Catholic Digest:

We don’t usually think of a prisoner’s prayers as being efficacious. Without thinking, we assume that God doesn’t hear them because of their terrible deeds. We forget about God’s mercy and the transformative power of sacraments of confession and the Eucharist. We also forget that God listens intently to the prayers of the suffering, and there’s no doubt that most prisoners suffer immensely. Their suffering is valuable when it’s united to Christ’s suffering.

So, I’m praying for prisoners today. It’s that mutuality, that reciprocity, that Sister Helen Prejean describes so well.

I owe them that.


1 comment:

Tah said...

Glad to hear you are doing better, Doug! You were in my prayers over the holiday.