Prayer has always been a key part of Prison Fellowship. We are an organisation birthed from it. When Prison Fellowship began in 1979, we initially did not go into prisons or run any programmes—we prayed!
The introduction of our Prayer Line programme in July 2020 was an opportunity for us to return to those roots in a new and tangible way. At its launch, Ven James Ridge, Chaplain General at HMPPS said that Prayer Line ‘enables a more active and immediate participation—prisoners can know that their concerns are being shared safely and confidentially by faithful, prayerful Christians.’
Last year, we celebrated the first full year of Prayer Line. We calculated that, through the programme, over one million prayers have been prayed for people in prison.
Prayer Line continues to run thanks to the commitment and energy of volunteers like Coral Brown and Anne Harris.
Anne is one of a number of volunteers who spends time listening to all the calls that come in from people in prison. She types up each request and, at the end of her session, distributes anonymised prayers to a small group of volunteers which includes Coral.
Coral, like other Prayer Line Coordinators, receives the requests and forwards them on to people in her local PF group, enabling them to be a part of interceding for those in prison.
Anne confides, ‘When I listen to a voice full of anguish and desperation, crying out from the depths of their heart, so many times I find myself just wanting to go and reassure them that God has heard them.’
Her involvement in Prayer Line has raised her awareness of ‘the sheer desperation that can be found in prison.’
During the pandemic, when chapel services and chaplaincy visits were unable to take place, people in prison were able to express their concerns, anxieties, and praises through Prayer Line. As Coral asserts, ‘Prayer Line supports people in prison, by being available. It’s a great encouragement and much-needed spiritual tool.’
And, while the benefits of Prayer Line for people in prison are clear to see, the programme is also blessing our volunteers.
‘I see this involvement as a God-given privilege,’ proclaims Anne. ‘I am playing a small part in God’s big picture by just listening to a person open their heart and asking for help from God through prayer.’
Coral also tells of how being involved in Prayer Line has impacted her: ‘It reminds me of the importance of prayer. It helps me to be consistent and to pray often. It is a great honour and privilege to be able to pray to God and intercede on behalf of others.’
With Coronavirus still affecting daily life and shadows of uncertainty continuing to hover over us, we are deeply encouraged by the impact of Prayer Line. When we have been unable to access prisons in person, Prayer Line has allowed us to hear the cries from those inside.
As our CEO, Peter Holloway, shared at the launch of Prayer Line, ‘It is a key way we can support men and women in their journey towards healing and restoration, standing alongside them with deep trust that their loving Heavenly Father hears every prayer.’
Find out more about praying for and with PF by visiting prisonfellowship.org.uk /get-involved/pray