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No matter where a woman lays her head at the end of a day, the urgent whisper of her heart is similar to the whispers in each of our hearts… whether we reside behind bars or in the comfort of our own home…

In a notebook I carry with me inside the jail, the ladies are encouraged to write their prayer requests.

Skin tones vary from pale to dark… Shapes and sizes too, are anything but uniform… young single girls barely out of high school, new moms, older moms and grandmas… coming from occupations and families and neighborhoods as diverse as the cultures residing in California’s Central Valley.

Their requests also range from a single sentence to paragraphs a page long:

“Please pray for G and S to have a better life, and make me a stronger person when I get out of jail.”

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“Pray for my grandma’s health, and give my mother patience and strength to care for my children… Place a hedge (of) protection on my family and the women here. Also give me the strength and will to get through my time till I am reunited with my family.”

“Pray for the Lord’s forgiveness for my sins.”

“Can you please pray for me and my son, and pray for me to do well and stay on the right path this time when I get out…”

“Lord, please watch over my daughter as she goes through this next month as she has some major tasks to accomplish, and continues to deal with the emotional stress of her mother being incarcerated. Please give my attorney and the D.A. wisdom and compassion in finding my future. And give me the support and love and comfort so that I may survive this trial. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

“Pray for our family to follow the Lord. The Light.”

“Pray that God’s will be done in my children’s lives and mine. That God’s Spirit (will) control my mind and tongue…”

“To pray for God to show me his plan and to be strong enough to see it and carry it out.”

“To pray for myself to get on the right path and know God. And to make major change in my life.”

“Pray. I would like my kids home and to be clean and sober.”

“To get out of jail Monday and get back on track with my life.”

1024px-Jail_Cell_Door_4150238, by Biswarup Ganguly

“Pray for all the ladies that when we get out that we will stay strong and make wise decisions that always lead us closer to the Lord.”

“Lord, please help J to stay clean and fight the temptation to use drugs, and Lord I ask that you help me to be strong when I walk out of here and help me to walk the right path… I pray also for my dad and grandma, put their minds at ease dear Lord that they will not worry themselves over my safety. Thank you Lord for all your blessings, in the name of Jesus, Amen.”

“Pray that peace (will) be with me as I leave here to (go to) prison…”

“Can you please pray for all my children and grandbabies and all my family and my boyfriend and my brother that’s in prison. Thank you and God bless.”

“That God shows mercy on me in court that I get the lesser sentence. And to protect my son and mom while I’m away.”

“My son K was exposed to whooping cough and I just pray that he doesn’t catch it and that he’s healthy and doing good. I also pray that God watches over all my loved ones and keeps them all safe, happy and healthy… and that I get to go home to them all next month.”

“I’m not sure how long I’ll be here but I just wanted to let u know that I think it’s great that u believe in something.”

“I was in trouble because I was under the influence and my baby was taken from me and I am very sorry for what I’ve done and I miss my daughter. I would like you to pray for me.”

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“I want God to show me what it is that I’m supposed to see. I pray for all the ladies in our tank (cell block).”

“I ask the Lord to protect me from myself. Lately I seem to be doubting faith. Something I’ve never doubted before. I need strength. I seem to be weakening. Amen.”

“Please let me not (get) upset with no one coming to visit me and understand that it’s far away. Thank(s) to the Lord I’m even getting out even earlier then I thought.”

“I need preyers to stay sober. I’m scared I can’t do it. I have never lived sober. Prey for my children to stay safe while I’m away… (she named all six of them). God bless us.”

“Please pray that my son be safe and secure without me. May I overcome these trials. Give me strength and conviction.”

Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons—because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the most High, therefore He brought down their heart with labor; they fell down and there was none to help. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and He broke their chains in pieces. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of bronze, and cut the bars of iron in two.  –  Psalm 107:10-16

 

(Photo of jail cell door courtesy of Biswarup Ganguly)

 

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