The Commission for Prison Ministry created the Cycle of Prayer for Prisons because we take seriously the charge that Christ gave us in the Parable of the Judgment in Matthew 25, also called the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. In it the King welcomes those at this right hand into the Kingdom of Heaven because of several things that they had done for him, including visiting those in prison. Those who are being welcomed ask when they did that and the King replies, “As you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
It seems clear that the Lord wishes us to visit those who are in prison as part of our baptismal ministry. For various reasons, not every one will do so. However, we all can pray and we can pray for those who are incarcerated. And so the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer was created as a means of helping us, all of us, to remember those who are in prison. This includes not just the incarcerated, prisoners, inmates, residents, but also includes the correctional officers and the administrative staff. We also urge those who pray to remember the victims of crime everywhere. These include not only those who have been directly affected by the crimes, but also the families and loved ones of those who committed the crimes.
The Cycle of Prayer includes all the prisons and jails we have been able to identify within the Diocese. Unfortunately the number of jails and prisons is so great that there are more than one for each week of the year. The Cycle of Prayer may be found on the diocesan website under the Ministries tab and then below the section about the Commission on Prison Ministry. The monthly prisons on the list are included in the Green Sheets.
We urge you to use this Cycle of Prayer in your congregations in all services and in your personal prayer life. Praying for those in prison, does not mean that you condone the crimes committed or the sentences imposed, but that you are aware that all the incarcerated (24,500 in Alabama and over 100,000 in Florida) are God’s children, created in the image of God and in need of respect and compassion, which is what we pledge to do in our Baptismal Covenant “with God’s help.”
The Rev. Deacon Edward Richards attends St. Thomas by the Sea, Laguna Beach.