An Advent Prayer for 35,000 People in Prison

Jesus, you know the 35,000 people in jail in Canada

by name, not number.

You know each holding cell, each regional detention centre,

each provincial institution and federal prison.

You were a captive, you too wore chains.

No one falls through the cracks in your kingdom,

you witness every tear shed in the night.

Where there is loneliness, bring companionship.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is fear, courage.

Where there is confinement, your freedom.

We pray for every imprisoned person who misses their family,

who cannot hold their children, or visit their parents,

who will this Christmas be surrounded not by loved ones

but by inmates who have no way out.

These are people whose special holiday dinner

is served on cafeteria trays

by people who are paid to be there.

We give thanks that the gift of the Christ-child on Christmas morning

is not controlled by human hands, not stopped by locks or bars.

As we wait for Christmas, open our hearts to remember

those who wait for court dates and parole hearings,

who wait for the end of each day and the end of their sentence.

Give us strength to refuse to be part of a society

that would shut doors forever and throw keys away.

We would meet you, Immanuel, God with us,

in the eyes of every person in prison.

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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