40 Days of Prayer to End Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is one of the most widespread and yet little discussed crimes of the modern age. The following daily meditations are presented as a way of raising awareness of this issue and praying for its downfall. We encourage you to explore more on your own and work to end human slavery in our lifetime. This prayer guide has been developed by Free NOLA, a faith-based coalition against domestic trafficking developed by the Sisters Religious of New Orleans. The New Orleans program was designed to raise awareness of trafficking prior to the Superbowl, and their 40 days will end on Mardi Gras.
A copy of these readings can be downloaded here.
Wednesday, February 13
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for (s)he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and (s)he relents from sending calamity.” (Joel 2:12-13)
Thursday, February 14
The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of God’s unfailing love. (Psalm 33:5)
Friday, February 15
I will say of the Lord “(S)he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalm 91:2-6)
Saturday, February 16
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself…(s)he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:21)
Sunday, February 17
Please pray for the efforts of the Michigan Law School Human Trafficking Clinic – the first legal clinic solely devoted to the issue of human trafficking. The clinic provides direct representation to victims of trafficking, as well as advocating for policy initiatives and educating the community.
Monday, February 18
If you…satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; (s)he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:10-11)
Tuesday, February 19
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Wednesday, February 20
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Mother/Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:27)
Thursday, February 21
Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble? In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, and the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord. The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek God. All his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10:1-4)
Friday, February 22
The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; (S)he thwarts the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of God’s heart from generation to generation. Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh – the people (S)he has chosen to be God’s own possession! (Psalm 33:10-12)
Saturday, February 23
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them – they are counted among the blessed in the land – he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. (Psalm 41:1-2)
Sunday, February 24
Pray for the efforts of Alternatives for Girls, a Detroit organization that provides street outreach to exploited women. AFG takes a harm reduction approach, and seeks to transport women to a safe place, if they are willing.
Monday, February 25
The Lord looks down from Heaven; (S)he observes everyone. (S)he gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth from God’s dwelling place. (S)he alone shapes their hearts; (S)he considers all their works. A king is not saved by a large army; a warrior will not be delivered by great strength. The horse is a false hope for safety; it provides no escape by its great power. (Psalm 33:13-17)
Tuesday, February 26
We wait for Yaweh; (S)he is our hope and shield. For our hearts rejoice in God because we trust in God’s holy name. May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh, for we put our hope in You. (Psalm 33:20-22)
Wednesday, February 27
Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the afflicted. Why has the wicked spurned God? He has said to himself, “You will not require it.” You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan. Break the arm of the wicked and the evildoer; Seek out his wickedness until you find none. (Psalm 10:12-15)
Thursday, February 28
So God created mankind in God’s own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
Friday, March 1
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
Saturday, March 2
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep, O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. (Psalm 36:6)
Sunday, March 3
Pray for the continued success of Free NOLA, a working group organized by the Sisters Religious of New Orleans last summer, which implemented a massive campaign to fight trafficking during the Superbowl. Their efforts contributed to multiple trafficking-related rescues and arrests during their (original) 40 Days of Prayer.
Monday, March 4
(S)he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noon-day sun. (Psalm 37:6)
Tuesday, March 5
I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. (Psalm 140:12)
Wednesday, March 6
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for (s)he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. (S)he has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. (Luke 4:18-19)
Thursday, March 7
(S)he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers… (Malachi 4:6)
Friday, March 8
The Messiah came to Earth at the perfect time. A study of history shows us that everything was in place for the rapid spread of the good news. The Roman road system and huge army protecting those roads, as well as the widely-spoken language of Greek helped facilitate the gospel’s transport. Sadly, in the same way, the ease of travel and communication in our generation facilitates the rapid transport of human beings and the trafficking of children from one place to another. Pray that the I-10 corridor of trafficking, which brings in thousands of victims each year, will be hindered, as well as websites that sell human beings.
Saturday, March 9
The lowly (s)he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. (S)he thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. (S)he catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. (Job 5:11-13)
Sunday, March 10
Pray for the Fair Trade system, which deals ethically with supplying families, who may otherwise be vulnerable to debt bondage and trafficking. Pray that consumers will support the Fair Trade industry, thereby reducing the demand for items purchased from labor traffickers and communicating that trafficking is not a viable business option.
Monday, March 11
O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror. (Psalm 10:17-18)
Tuesday, March 12
Pray for Law Enforcement to be discerning and to accurately identify trafficking victims as they make arrests. Many trafficked individuals suffer from Stockholm Syndrome or Battered Woman Syndrome, and are too ashamed to tell anyone about their situation. They will even return to their captors after being released from jail. This story is repeated over and over. Pray that they find the courage to cry out against their oppressors, that their voices will be heard, and that they will receive compassion and justice. Pray that they comprehend the availability of freedom, and that they bravely seek release.
Wednesday, March 13
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Thursday, March 14
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the parentless, plead the cause of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)
Friday, March 15
Before his conversion, the apostle Paul was so zealous against the cause of Jesus that he hunted down and murdered Christians. When God saved him, he became just as zealous for Jesus as he had been against him. What Christian has not been moved, convicted, and changed by the words of Paul in Scripture? Pray that God will save traffickers, pimps, and other zealous evil doers in the sex industry and that the Holy Spirit will empower their subsequent testimony. Pray that the voice of the former oppressor will move, convict, and transform lives.
Saturday, March 16
Or do you think lightly of the riches of God’s kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
Sunday, March 17
Pray for our church, as we take up the cause of human trafficking. Pray that our efforts to organize an anti-trafficking symposium will be successful, and that we will all have the courage to take action against exploitation as a collective body of Christ.
If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Tuesday, March 19
Pray for continued collaboration and development of strong relationships with local, national, and global anti-trafficking organizations. Ask “that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2)
Wednesday, March 20
In Leviticus 25, we read about the laws concerning the Jubilee – a time of freedom and of celebration when both land and slaves were to be returned to their families. Let us ask God to make 2013 a year of Jubilee. Missing persons, runaways, and those who have been taken, sold, or coerced may be far from home or hidden away from sight in their own neighborhood. Pray that they will be found, rescued, and restored to loved ones. For those whose families are not safe, pray that they be restored to a spiritual family where they can experience love and healing.
Thursday, March 21
Today is Human Rights Day in South Africa, a country notorious for its human trafficking. Many of the anti-trafficking regulations South Africa pays lip service to, but fails to follow, are the same initiatives that the United States fails to proactively support. Let us pray that all countries comply with international efforts to stop trafficking, and that all people comply with God’s mandate of love and justice.
Friday, March 22
In Genesis 16 we read about Hagar, an Egyptian slave impregnated by her owner, Abraham, and abused by his wife, Sarah. She fled to the desert, where she pleaded to die. But God was there, and God cared for her. She gave God the name El Roi, and said “I have seen the God who sees me.” Pray that victims of trafficking will, in their desperation, see the God who sees them and is able to rescue them.
Saturday, March 23
In Numbers 22, Balak, king of Moab, tried to hire the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. God sent an angel to oppose Balaam, but his spiritual eyes did not see. God eventually used a donkey to get through to the man. In this world, there are parents who, out of desperation, greed, or a thirst for drugs or power, are tempted to curse their own children by selling them to the highest bidder. Pray that the angel of the Lord will oppose them, and that God will use whatever means possible to open their spiritual eyes to the horrendous consequences of their actions. Pray that God will thwart their efforts, before they cause irreparable harm to their own flesh and blood.
Sunday, March 24 – Palm Sunday
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song. Sing God’s praises in the assembly of the faithful. O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King. Praise God’s name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp. For the LORD delight’s in God’s people; (s)he crowns the humble with victory. Let the faithful rejoice that (s)he honors them. Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.
Monday, March 25
Palm Sunday was a celebration, and many people have trouble getting back on track after a big party. Pray that those who wake up from other, more sinister parties, will be like the prodigal son described in Luke 15 who “came to himself” and decided “I will arise and go to my father, and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.’” Pray that this new day will be a time of celebration as men and women return to God, and God rejoices like the father in Luke, saying “For this my [child] was dead, and is alive again; (s)he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:24)
Tuesday, March 26
Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me. (Matthew 25:34)
Wednesday, March 27
“You’re in the army now!” (Sister Helen Prejean, upon the arrival of a human rights worker in New Orleans)
Thursday, March 28 – Maundy Thursday
At the last supper, Jesus asked his disciples to remember him. Pray that God will not be forgotten in our feasts. Pray that when we educate our friends and neighbors about trafficking, they will listen, and not chastise us for “putting a damper” on their fun. Pray for compassion. Pray for exposure of inhumane practices.
Friday, March 29 – Good Friday
On this day, Jesus surrendered to God’s will and was exploited, tortured, and killed. It is a shocking reality, and difficult to reconcile with our sense of a loving, parental God. The only reason we as humans are able to come to terms with it is that we can view it in the spiritual lens – there was a divine purpose to all of that suffering.
Saturday, March 30 – Holy Saturday
YOU are holy. YOU were made in the image of God. YOU are as qualified, equipped, and empowered to seek justice as anyone. Please pray for whatever YOU think is most important in the fight against trafficking.
Sunday, March 31 – EASTER SUNDAY
As men, women and children are freed from human slavery, many will come to know God as their Savior and Deliverer. Some of the delivered will join the fight against injustice with a passion and zeal which cannot be matched by those who have not known captivity. Exodus 15 records the song of praise from Moses and the Sons of Israel, who have been slaves for forty years when God delivered them to freedom. May the world resound with their song once again as the captives of today are rescued and God raises an army of the redeemed:
I will sing to the Lord, for (S)he is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider (S)he has hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and song,
And (S)he has become my salvation;
This is my God and I will praise God;
My father’s God, and I will extol God.
The Lord is a warrior;
The Lord is God’s name.
Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power,
Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You;
You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.
At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up,
The flowing waters stood up like a heap;
The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall be gratified against them;
I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them.’
You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
Who is like You among the gods, O Lord?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in praises, working wonders?
You stretched out Your right hand,
The earth swallowed them.
In Your loving-kindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed;
In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.
The peoples have heard, they tremble;
Terror and dread fall upon them;
By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone;
Until Your people pass over, O Lord,
Until the people pass over whom You have purchased.
You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance,
The place, O Lord, which You have made for Your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
The Lord shall reign forever and ever.