Praying for jails and prisons

Published 9:57 am Friday, September 6, 2019

By Dawn Reed


“The devil reigns supreme here,” he said matter-of-factly. I didn’t write it down but knew I wouldn’t forget it. I’d never heard anyone say such a thing before.

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The year was 2006. My friend, Tanya, and I were in a training for volunteer chaplains at a women’s prison in our county. Those in the room hoped to be allowed to do Bible studies with the female inmates there.

The chaplain/instructor went on to say that the inmates were filled with despair and hopelessness. satan (I refuse to capitalize his name) had been enjoying the environment.

After an intense training (they told us there would be negotiations if we were ever taken hostage), and a tour of the facility, we completed paperwork for background checks.

I don’t know if you realize it or not, but in 2019, the devil is reigning supreme at many county jails and prisons, STILL . When John 10:10 says, “…the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy,” it is no joke. When he can make people feel helpless and hopeless, when he can make people feel bound by darkness, when he can make them desperate for drugs and violence-even while incarcerated, then he has done his job well.

Each week, our Jail Ministry team sees lives in ruin. Inmates are in tears, going through withdrawals, defeated and in denial. We can’t sit idly by and let it go on without some kind of action! I ask you, implore you, BEG YOU to join us in prayer for God to make a change!

All through the Bible, people sought for God’s intervention in crisis. Elijah prayed on Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18), Joshua called the sun to stand still (Joshua 10), but the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 is my favorite.

Three armies were coming against the people of Judah. They had no hope-except in God. Jehoshaphat called them all together, old and young, to the temple to pray. Not to fight, not to escape, but to stand firm with their eyes on God…pleading for His intervention.

He is the same God of the Bible, yesterday and today! He can still move mountains! He can still bring life where there is death! He can still make a change against all odds!

And so, we stand on the outside of a brick and cinderblock building, yearning for a work of God on the inside. The inmates, who have made bad choices, are not lost causes. In Luke 4:18, Jesus said, “I have come to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…” That freedom may not mean to be released, but it does mean freedom from despair, from the influence of satan!

Please pray with me, from your couch, your desk, your car. (Feel free to find your local jail/prison and march or drive around the building a time or two as you pray.)

Pray that God would give inmates and employees a hunger and a thirst for Him and His Word.

Pray the God would bind the evil one and break down the plans of satan there.

Pray that God will raise up teachers and preachers to share the gospel in jails and prisons, that many would hear and receive Jesus.

Pray that God would heal the emotional wounds of the incarcerated and deliver them and their families from drug and alcohol abuse.

Pray that employees will be wise, courageous and honest as they press on each day.

Proverbs 24:10-11 instructs, “If you do nothing in a difficult time, your strength is limited.” Similarly, Edmund Burke stated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.”

Let’s NOT do nothing! There IS something we can do! We can ask God to intervene…and believe that He can make a change! May He shake the foundation of each institution, just as He did in Acts 16!

In Isaiah 46:8, the LORD said, “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up…”


Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor’s wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at