For early Christians, prison had no pretense of rehabilitation. People were incarcerated while awaiting trial or execution — or while they attempted to raise the funds to relieve a debt.

The intemperance of incarceration and the miserable conditions of confinement inspired Christ’s faithful followers to make routine devotions for prisoners. They prayed that the poor and powerless in prison might not succumb to the darkness of despair — a devotion that had particular relevance during Easter which has long been associated with the theme of liberation of prisoners.

For our Lenten Cross Project, participants receive the name of a person who is in prison to pray for during Lent while following along with a series of daily reflections on the experiences of prisoners and those who have been affected by their incarceration — their victims, loved ones, criminal justice professionals, and community volunteers.

When praying for a person, participants often notice that the problem of crime and corrections — which most people understand only from the sensationalized perspective of politicians and reporters — all of a sudden becomes more personal and more vivid. The stereotypes and hard to comprehend numbers all fade into the background. And what shows up are real people who are really lost in the shadows of the criminal justice system.

Optional Almsgiving

In addition to praying for those who were in prison, early Christians took up collections to raise the money that was needed to free debtors who would otherwise die behind bars.

If you would like to participate in this tradition of almsgiving, we suggest the modest amount of a nickel a day, a dime a day, a quarter a day, or a dollar a day for the 40 days of Lent — $2, $4, $10, or $40. Contributions are for Chattanooga Endeavors to continue its mission of second chances including our Lenten Cross Project.

If you register to pray for someone through our Lenten Cross Project, you will receive instructions for giving to this project with the name of the person in prison to pray for. Or you can simply click on the “almsgiving” button below.

Register to Pray for Someone in Prison

To participate in our Lenten Cross Project, please register by completing the following form. We promise to keep your information to ourselves.