“Do you have anyone praying for you?”

“Do you have anyone praying for you?”

“Do you have anyone praying for you?”

Asking that simple question is changing our relationships with teens in the local detention centers. Those of us involved in a church community often take for granted the opportunity to have others pray for us in times of struggle. But when a mentor asked a youth if he was supported in prayer as he was serving time in detention, he answered, “No.”

The mentor committed to pray for the him every day at 6 a.m. and offered to have others in his circle of influence to pray as well. He handed the youth a card and asked him to write down his prayer request. Other teens asked for cards, and we felt God’s Spirit move as they silently pondered and wrote down their requests.

Before reading the prayer cards, we thought that many of the teens would write requests that sound a lot like, “Get me out of here.” Instead, kids consistently request prayers of provision and protection for their families, for God to change them, for forgiveness, and for comfort in times of fear. We now do prayer cards at four local detention centers. Each week, a team of volunteers pray over these cards, presenting the requests of these young hearts to our loving, gracious God.

Something shifts when we turn from standing on our own to a posture of prayer. In a place where there was fear, there is now hope. We are seeing the power of prayer in the teens we serve. God wants the best for us and has the power to make change in our lives. We believe this for the teens in tough situations that we lift up to him daily.

“He heals the broken and bandages their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3 (NLT)

Here are some prayer requests from teens in our detention facilities:

Pray that I get closer to God and that I get home to my son’s mama and family. And that you look over my sick grandpa. And that you look over most of all and guide me in the right path and that you help me get closer to God and get to know him more.

Heavenly Father, consider my lament and preserve my life, Lord. I pray help grow my love for you and bless me with the miracle of release. I ask you to be compassionate and bless my family.

I’m trying to make it out of this game, but cannot find the exit sign. I don’t understand why these critics won’t respect my mind. I need your help. And I realize without you I am nothing.

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