I’ve recently started a new Bible plan on the YouVersion app – A21 Prayer Guide. I knew it was a prayer guide and read the description but I didn’t really consider what the plan contained. I assumed it would have the typical – pray for the church; pray for healing; pray for leaders; pray for the world leaders etc.…
Day 1: Pray for victims (As I thought)
I was lead to pray for victims of abuse especially within their homes. I also thought about serious crime victims such as murder, theft and assault/battery.
Day 2: Pray for traffickers (Eh?)
Immediately I thought, “Oh victims of human trafficking. So, we’re just going to go through the types of victims. This plan is going to be long.” After a while I looked at the prayer points and I looked at the title and really understood that it meant what it said.
Pray for the traffickers
I’m not going to lie, I looked at what the title said and I was ready to just read the scripture and either, 1) do an artificial prayer – “God may those who commit the crime of trafficking be caught, amen.” 2) Read the scripture, the study notes in my Bible and move on to my other plan. But we thank God that this devotion covered specific prayer sub-points lined with scriptures which work alongside them.
Prayer guide’s prayer points
At this point I thought, “hmm, OK, I see where you’re going with this,” and immediately felt convicted. I was being so narrow-minded and selfish. I only looked at who I judged was worthy of my prayer. I was being so judgemental and ignorant that I was ready to disregard those who may even need my prayers more than the victims themselves. Who am I to judge? Who she me God? This is when I pulled the big guns out. I got my pen, my journal notebook and my study bible. I started to think and pray about praying for those who I may find it difficult to pray for – whether I’ve fallen out with them or I’ve judged them as morally wrong.
Pray for conviction, repentance and salvation.
When someone has an addiction, it is commonly said (or so I’ve seen in the movies) that the first step is to admit. It is impossible for a person to change their ways if they don’t acknowledge, recognise or feel any way about the thing they are doing wrong. Conviction is to convince someone of the truth. That is the job of the Holy Spirit in this case – to reach into the hearts of traffickers and change their heart so that they will believe that what they are doing is wrong and that a way out is needed. As Christians, it is our job to intercede in behalf of those who commit sins and crimes and hope that God will equip us to deal with them and that He himself will deal with them accordingly.
At my university, I had a tutor who mockingly said that he was once a Christian but his sins were too much for even God. The scripture speaks about letting the wicked be convicted, causing them to want to turn their lives around and for them to know that God is a merciful and forgiving God. Too often, people become even more separated from God because they feel like they are too far from God to start with. 1 John 2:2 says that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world and this includes sins of the smallest to the biggest kind. It is our duty to pray that ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ does not create a barrier for those who are coming to Christ to turn their lives around.
Salvation is God’s gift to us. It is not based on our deeds or the lack of but based solely on God’s unmerited favour (Ephesians 2:8). Once we get over the barrier of ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ we can start thinking about what is important. Despite my initial struggles with this devotion, I realised that as a Christian it is my duty to pray for those who I find doing morally wrong. Ultimately the end goal and purpose is an advancement of His Kingdom by spreading the gospel – as we are called to do (Matthew 28:16-20).
Pray for criminal networks to dismantle
Specific to the crime of trafficking, this prayer point relates to a stoppage to the crime at hand. In this world, there’s almost an underworld of criminal activity that happens e.g. drug dealing and trafficking. I use the term underworld alongside dark space as it can seem like a completely different world to what we know. I think of the television series Power, where it shows a successful club owner and father in the light but it then switches to focus on his actions of the dark – running an exclusive drug empire and being unfaithful to his wife. In the show, the main character James has such a complex and crossover of networks that the last time I watched an episode he found himself in a lot of problems. Ephesians 5:1-14 speaks about as children of God it is important to live in the light, expose and avoid evil deeds done in the darkness and to know that ungodly and evil things done in secret will be made visible in the light. God is omniscient – an all knowing God. In the show, a lot of James’ problems and barriers have come from his work in the dark crossing over and merging into his life in the light. I believe that we need to pray for an exposing of evil networks so that we are not oblivious to what is going on in the world around us.
In the same way, I believe that we need to pray that these complex criminal networks are made to dismantle due to problems. The power of prayer is paramount and more than necessary when gate-crashing the devil’s party and ‘rule’ over certain things. Trafficking comes under the idea of a complex criminal network in a dark place. If we think about the numerous number of people who are reported missing with no explanation. If we even think of the stories of those who have told their story of being trafficked and the detail and complex lengths taken to organise these crimes. When praying for networks to dismantle, this involves barriers that they are met with: may their communication falter; their access to high and important places be restricted; their ease of travel across the world be constrained and may the police and security work as a barrier everywhere they go.
Pray for oppressors to be arrested and prosecuted
At first I felt that this prayer point conflicted with the interests of the first one. It then was revealed to me that whilst prayers for salvation may be going up and there is a desire to see the kingdom flourish, networks dismantled, victims returned home and receiving support to reclaiming and continuing with their lives – the God I serve is a just God (Isaiah 61:8). Where God’s people have suffered due to injustice, God vows that they will be rewarded. It is important to pray that those who are suffering and waiting for justice will be blessed with patience so that God can further bless them (Isaiah 30:18).
God loves criminals… and so should I.
Where I went into this devotion thinking and sighing, “Oh Lord”, I have now left with an altered mindset. God created criminals as he did priests; waiters; lawyers; taxi drivers and Abraham Lincoln. Not only did God create all of mankind but He loves us all. Although, we know this we often forget that with the same love that made us He made the person next to you. Not only does God love but he also calls us to love even our own personal enemies (Luke 6:31). It took me a devotion and a instruction to prayer for traffickers.
Who do you find it difficult to pray for? Perhaps they need it the most.
Emily Shahnee x