“Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book is a beautiful and much needed resource. In prayers, liturgies and art the book is a message of grace and hope for the incarcerated, their families, those who work in prisons, and congregations.” —Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
“This prayer book brings God’s love and will for reconciliation and healing alive in prayers, scriptures, services, art, and daily faith practices. It is a powerful resource of hope and comfort that every jail and prison chaplain, volunteer ministry, family member, and incarcerated loved one should have in their hands.” —Deacon Deb Haynes
Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book is a beautiful print resource developed in response to the call from the ELCA Social Statement, “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries.” It is intended primarily for those in correctional facilities and for use by chaplains and others with relationships to those who are incarcerated. Developed through a collaborative process with the ELCA and Augsburg Fortress, Hear My Voice draws upon the gifts of writers with diverse connections to the criminal justice system. Congregations are encouraged to purchase and distribute to those in their communities who are serving sentences in the criminal justice system.
This prayer book, enhanced with color artwork by Robyn Sand Anderson, provides prayers for many times and circumstances and invites those who are incarcerated to spend time in prayer, trusting in God’s never failing love for them and the whole world.
This book is about praying to God and listening for God in prison. God is present in prison—after all, Jesus was condemned by the religious authorities of his day and arrested and executed by the Roman state. Many of Jesus’ followers through the centuries have faced imprisonment. So, prisons are outposts of heaven. They are places where the Holy Spirit is present and active, transforming lives and situations. Jesus Christ is on our side and by our side, no matter what hardships or challenges or enemies we face—including incarceration.
The brutal realities of this world often seem disconnected from God’s love and justice. Yet, God’s justice is the deeper truth. God’s justice is about grace, forgiveness, hope, and new life. It is about restoring broken relationships and healing shattered hearts. God’s justice is respect, fairness, and safety for every person. The penal system keeps people separated and apart. But God’s vision for us is connection with Christ and one another, even when we sit in solitude or in solitary confinement.
For those who are currently incarcerated this book will be a companion for living the Christian faith on the inside. The writers of this book are currently or formerly incarcerated persons or those involved in various prison or re-entry ministries. The recipient of this book will hear the writers’ voices praying for them and praying with them.
Families and friends of those who are incarcerated will find this book a guide for praying alongside their loved ones in prison, despite physical separation.
This book is a call to the church and to every congregation to be in prayer and in solidarity with incarcerated persons. Placing this book in the hands of those who are incarcerated is an embodiment of our accompaniment of them.
The title of this book, Hear My Voice (Psalm 130:1), is itself a prayer for difficult times. It can be a plea: “Please, God, hear me!” It can be a challenge: “OK, God, if you’re really there, then listen to me!” It can be a cry of faith: “I know that you’re with me, Jesus, and that you’ll hear my voice when I call to you.” And it is, at the same time, God’s invitation to each of us. God says, “Hear my voice,” because God is always listening for our prayers and ready to respond.
This resource includes reflections and prayers based on the Christian year and prayers for situations people who are incarcerated often experience. It offers prayers for morning, evening, and night, rituals and prayers for individuals and groups, and much more. Selected psalms, scripture passages, and hymn texts are provided. Artwork for reflection and inspiration is woven throughout this prayer book.