Oh Holy Night

It’s easy to be discouraged working with our boys. Are they hearing, believing, understanding, or trusting us? We pray and prepare only to find guys on lock-up, having a bad day, or being disruptive by walking out of class or choosing this hour to pick a fight with their co-defendant.

Recently, we challenged the boys to come to terms with the belief systems that drive their behavior. We asked them, “Are they the Loyalist, the Pleasure Seeker, the Man in Charge?” Some were engaged while others distanced themselves or put their heads down on the table. Afterwards, I invited the willing for a time of prayer. Our table of 3 soon became 9 as the sleeper and the distancer moved closer to join in. We stood in a circle and I explained that we would start with thankful prayers then ‘God Help Me’ prayers.

The room turned silent. The shuffling of cards, the coughing, the snide comments ceased. One prayer came after another: “God thank you for waking me up” “God thanks for my Mom” “God thank you for this day.” Anthony interrupted, “Can we move on to the Help-me prayers?” He kicked off round two where the guys humbly and seriously asked their Heavenly Father to come to their rescue; whether that be their health, their court date, or their desire to change their lives. As much as I try, I can’t quite articulate what happened. A circle of 16 and 17-year-old boys, all with unknown futures, standing in prayer in a dreary, dimly lighted prison dorm. It was a Holy moment.