I get prayer requests in my email box, on my Facebook news feed, in the mail. . . I’m sure you do as well. as I was praying for different believers imprisoned in harsh conditions, I realized something — as much as I want to see them freed and returned to their families, more than that I want their faith to remain strong in trial. I want them to see God’s hand on their lives no matter the circumstances.
And so my prayers have changed. I pray that they would bring the light of the gospel to very dark places. I pray that their captors would see the truth of God’s love and be saved. The jailer in Philippi heard the gospel from 2 prisoners — Paul and Silas. Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy led Bible studies in a Nazi concentration camp, and shared the gospel with Jewish people who probably never would have listened had they not been imprisoned. Eric Liddell, though he died in a Japanese internment camp, encouraged other believers imprisoned with him, and never failed to share the gospel where he was.
Stories abound of believers encouraging other believers in prison, or witnessing to fellow inmates. Even in the dark place of a prison, or a work camp, “God so loved the world” means that God has much higher purposes than we can think or imagine.
Am I saying that we should not pray for persecuted believers to be released from bondage? Not at all! What I am saying is that my prayers should not put God in a box that there is only one way to answer. God loves the other prisoners. God loves the captors. God has commissioned us to go and make disciples. Even in hard places. Even in awful circumstances.
“and who knows whether you have not come. . .for such a time as this” Esther 4:14