Two Powerful Lenten Prayers: Repentance and Petition for Freedom of Modern Day Slaves

Written by students from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2010 and 2011:

Check out the article written in 2015 by now alumni on Human Trafficking and Pornography:

1: Lamentation over Human Trafficking

“Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord” (Ps.  130:1);

Father, from the depths of our core where helplessness and hopelessness reside, we cry.  Our hearts are broken that your men, women, and children all over the world are bought and sold into sexual slavery and slave labor for the profit, pleasures, and comfort of others.  We cry for the slaves who are already crying out deep within because of the yoke of oppression they carry. We cry because they cry. We cry because your heart is moved the way a mother is moved by the cries of a hungry and thirsty child. In our tears, we are hungry and thirsty for your justice and mercy.

“Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within us” (Ps. 51:10). “So our spirit grows faint within us; our hearts within us are dismayed” (Ps. 143:4)

Jesus, we confess that we are part of the problem. We contribute to the injustice of slave labor with the things we buy and with the meditations of our hearts.  We repent for all the times we willingly submitted our wills to sexual perversion and exploited the beauty of your design in our brothers and sisters.  We have slept with darkness and therefore have perpetuated the evil of sexual exploitation against our brothers and sisters.

Spirit, we lift up those caught in the lust that causes them to pay for sex or view pornography. We lament over those that walk in darkness and help keep slaves in bondage, we cry. Lord, we lift up the exploiters- the pimps, johns, madams, factory, plantation, and brothel owners. We know it is your desire that they be redeemed as well. Lord, we lift up those who create the demand- individuals and families who exploit others for slave labor in their homes. As they sell, buy, and trade men, women, and children for pleasure or profit, we cry. Our tears fall with a confessing heart that pleads guilty of participation through consumerism and lust.

“Hear our prayer, O Lord; listen to our cry for mercy.  In the day of our trouble we will call to you, for you will answer us.” (Ps. 86:6-7)

Father, Son, Spirit, we ask that you would proclaim release for the captives, that they may know in the midst of their tragedy that you are good.  We repent for all the times we failed to pray for those in chains and hindered your justice from coming into the world.  We repent for all the times we turned our heads to the victimization of our brothers and sisters and said it was someone else’s problem and not our own.  We trust that you will guide us as a community in the fight against modern day slavery. We thank you and praise you for the work you are already doing and the people you are freeing from bondage all over the world, even as we pray. May your kindness lead us to repentance. May your grace lead us to action. May your mercy pour justice in our hearts. In Jesus’ name, amen.


II. A Lenten Abolition Litany

We are reminded this Lent that we have all been slaves to sin and death.   “We have all been there before, captive to the passions of our weak flesh, impulsively doing the will of our weakness. And like the rest, we were children whose nature deserved wrath. But You, exerting Your wealth, made a life for us together with Christ.”

(Ephesians 2.3-4)

Lord, our world has been deceived.  We pray this Lent against the industry of human trafficking, because when we do we are praying against many sins: greed, lust, materialism, apathy, prejudice, and selfishness.  Lord, we pray for our world, which is shackled in the chains of sin and death. In your mercy,

Lord, deliver us

Lord we cannot pray against modern slavery and mourn its existence without acknowledging our part in the mess.  Our shoes are saturated in the mire of slavery. Our bodies are covered with cheap products woven with suffering.  Our phones are smeared with the fingerprints of orphans.  The meditations of our hearts turn too easily into lustful desires.  In Your mercy,

Lord, deliver us

Lord, we cry out for enslaved women who are experiencing cruciform suffering every day, in vicious and nameless cycles of evil and degradation; Jesus, you know their pain.  In your transparency and vulnerability you are always with those who suffer and cry out for death. You can relieve them of the pain and give them life.  In your mercy,

Lord, deliver us

Lord, the darkness of sinful and selfish hearts thrives in our land. We cry out for enslaved men and children who may work from dawn till dusk in the Kentucky countryside for no pay. We pray against debt bondage. We pray against forced labor. Would you convict the hearts of a hundred slave masters today? In your mercy,

Lord, deliver us

Lord, in your Kingdom, darkness has no place.  All is transparent.  All is light.  Give us the courage to love those in chains in a way that defies a culture of materialism and sin. Awaken us as your body to embrace the plight of those who cannot defend themselves from the enemy’s agents of destruction. In your mercy,

Lord, deliver us

Lord, in your Kingdom you call each of us by name. Deliver us from our tendency to neglect our brothers and sisters, to ignore those who are sold like products all over the globe. Teach us how to be salt and light in this world; to be Christ’s hands and feet that walk into the dark grottos of civilization and unshackle the chains of idolatry and slavery. Lord, teach us how to LOVE. In your mercy,

Lord, deliver us

Remind us that we are our brother’s keeper. Free us from slavery to sin that we might be your deliverers through our prayers, words, and deeds. Raise up deliverers Lord. Make your church a house of justice. In Your mercy, build our empathy for those whose suffering knows no relief. May your kingdom come, Lord on earth as it is in heaven.


Prayers of the Psalms

Psalm 22

11  Do not be far from me,    for trouble is near    and there is no one to help.

12  Many bulls  surround me;    strong bulls of Bashan  encircle me.

13  Roaring lions  that tear their prey    open their mouths wide  against me.

14  I am poured out like water,   and all my bones are out of joint.   My heart has turned to wax;    it has melted  within me.

19  But you, LORD, do not be far from me.    You are my strength;  come quickly  to help me.

20  Deliver me from the sword,    my precious life  from the power of the dogs.

21  Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

Prayers of the Psalms

Psalm 20

1.  May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;    may the name of the God of Jacob  protect you.

2  May he send you help  from the sanctuary    and grant you support  from Zion.

3  May he remember  all your sacrifices   and accept your burnt offerings. 

4  May he give you the desire of your heart    and make all your plans succeed.

5  May we shout for joy  over your victory   and lift up our banners  in the name of our God.   May the LORD grant all your requests.

Prayers of the Psalms

Psalm 19

13  Keep your servant also from willful sins;    may they not rule over me.

Then I will be blameless,    innocent of great transgression.

14  May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart   be pleasing  in your sight,

LORD, my Rock  and my Redeemer.