Help for a Prisoner Feeling Stuck

I do Bible study with a same group of inmates once/week for an hour, so there is little time to get to know individuals in meaningful depth as they come and go, are transferred, or are released. One in the group will be released in 9 months and will probably be in this group until near that time. He has expressed a sense of hopelessness about his condition of drug addiction and a pattern of lawlessness. He is fearful of returning to his previous setting.
Is there some material that addresses his condition that I could give him and he could study and then discuss with fellow inmates in our group of 5-9?


Honestly he shouldn’t return back to his environment. Any long term recovering addict will tell him it’s not a good idea. If possible he needs to find a half way house to go to.

Keep encouraging him in the Lord. He really needs to find a program to get into that will help him get a job and have things to occupy his time. Addiction takes up so much time in a person’s life that they don’t know what to do in the new found time they have when they aren’t using.

He also needs to get counseling as well to learn new ways to cope with life. In counseling and group therapy he can get recommendations there of books to read and places to go for addiction.


Your Bible Group. Do you memorize scripture? In 2 Peter 1. Peter details that God has given us all promises and all we need in Jesus the Messiah. He asks us to add to our FAITH, MORAL EXCELLENCE, TO THIS KNOWLEDGE(WORD OF GOD), TO THIS SELF-CONTROL, TO THIS PERSEVERANCE, TO THIS BROTHERLY KINDNESS, AND TO THIS LOVE.

You won’t be unfruitful in the LORD. So study up in the WORD. Meditate, feed on it. And then put it in practice. Profess it over your life outloud. Ask the LORD to renew His mind, thoughts, attitude, values, what he likes and dislikes. Unpack everything at the feet of our Sovereign LORD. He promises strength. He promised if you are in the Messiah, Christ, you are a new creature old things are passed away. You are not your own anymore. Renew your mind at least 3 times a day like Joshua, King David, and Daniel. God told Joshua to meditate 3 times a day and to be strong and courageous. Seek God in small or big prayers. Acknowledge Him everywhere. Confess Jesus as your LORD to others. Let them know that you have decided to follow Jesus. These will help him to stand now with Jesus before out of jail. And when he thinks he’s off track. Pray and run back to Jesus. God provided hope. 1 John 1;9. Confess and get right with Jesus daily. Moment to moment. He breaks the chains. He is LORD. He never gives up.

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Carlton, do you have a Chaplin in your jail that is willing to connect your friend with a non-judgmental church community that will encourage, strengthen and support his faith when he is released? If so, some of the brothers in Christ would probably be willing to visit your friend in jail, getting to know him, while he is preparing for release. Not sure what is available in the US but should be the same as Canada. There is non-profit, partially government funded housing, Christian and secular, available to people. Not sure where you are but California, I think its in Costa Mesa, there’s a U-Turn for Christ home. A little hard core Christian but one of my nephews addicted to heroin and alcohol left U-Turn saved and off drugs for the past 4 years.
Praying for Christ’s victory in your friend’s life.

Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions. Unfortunately we are in an out of the way location. The facility’s chaplain program is in disarray, housing and transition programs are scarce and normally full with waiting lists, but I have found such a program about 60 miles away and the inmate is considering this option. He has also been in contact with the people there. So there is some chance. But in the meantime I was hoping for a way to boost his outlook and encourage him in Biblical directions. I will talk with him next week (one-on-one contact time is very limited) and see if he is interested in a Lutzer book that speaks to the topic. If he’s interested, there is a way he can order the book and get it legally into his hands.

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@smokebetts Unfortunately this it not going to be exactly what you are asking for but a couple of things have come to mind.

I realize it’s an out of the way location, but would there happen to be any Celebrate Recovery programs in the vicinity. You can go to their website and do a national search for locations. I also have found a Celebrate Recovery Bible to have good encouragement and practical application information along with scripture.

Are you familiar with, or have you used the Alpha course video content? The videos are wonderful and all have testimonies interspersed throughout. Several of the testimonies are of convicts and addicts that were the worst of the worst and how Christ changed their lives. One walked out of prison, became a street preacher and has never looked back. Anyway, they might offer some encouragement and personal testimony that God CAN and WILL bring even a convict to a place where they can fulfill their purpose in the kingdom. You can see the videos on under the WATCH tab. It’s titled: ALPHA Film Series. It’s certainly a great series to show in any setting, especially a prison setting. It’s not specifically addressing addiction issues, but the testimonies of former addicts and violent criminals are quite compelling.

Remember, in Jesus our Savior, we are preists of reconciliation, the Holy Spirit promises to give us words to say, and the LORD wants him to TRUST Him for each and everything. Pray always for Him. Pray with Him, if permissible. The LORD wants to do a work in Him. But He has to surrender to Jesus every day. Nothing is up to us. Matthew 15 reminds us we must abide in Him. Without the LORD, we can do nothing. Peace brother! I have had Christian friends who did time. One a Heroine addict. Over 25 years since. The Lord Jesus has cleaned His mind, body, and soul, but it takes effort. We have to turn to Him. Expose everything. Trust in His promises and grin and bear it. The LORD wants to take us deeper. His will. His life. You can’t be his Jesus. We can only pray, encourage, mentor, and entrust them to Jesus. The LORD who spoke the world into existence. You parted the Red Sea. Who died for us to give us REAL life. May God enlarge His faith. God is faithful. God has broken his chain. His blood has paid and purified Him. God is enough! Thank God. We all blow it without His mercy and grace.

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I have been ministering in a local jail every week for a while now. I totally understand how they come and go. In some cases you only get one night with some of them. I have tried to just be very sensitive to what the Holy Spirit wants to speak. It is not enough to simply recite or memorize scriptures. They must receive a Word that is breathed out of the Fathers very lips! The men in jail need that engrafted Word which is able to save their souls (James 1:21). Each sinner, whether in jail or out of jail is not in need of another “program”, as there are plenty of those that are whipping out in record numbers at best backslidden saints and at worse sinners who never became new creatures in Christ but think they did (all without any evidence of the new birth). I am simply saying that the sinner in our day is not as in the days of old. As Ravi mentioned a few weeks ago, we live in a day where the fruit of the harvest does not come easy, nevertheless, there is a harvest that is ripe unto the glory of God!

Abraham Lincoln said that if he had 1 hour to cut down a tree, he would spend 45 minutes sharpening his axe. So likewise we should spend 75% of our time listening to our Lord and what He wants to breath into the lives of sinners and 25% of the time carrying it out. No doubt that 25% of doing would bring a hundred fold more fruit than our 75% of “doing” and 25% of asking God to bless that which we initiated in ourselves. Souls are on the line!! Should we handle them so lightly as to prescribe a mere program?? Paul said to Christ “What wilt thou have me to do?” When is the last time ministers in jail or out of jail asked Him that??

My encouragement to you brother is to spend less time looking for “material” and simply be the very Word made flesh to these men! Spend more time praying and and less time planning. Labour for their souls in closet prayer brother! Yield yourself to Him as a pitcher of water and he will fill you with that living water which can then be poured out of you! It is only the alabaster box that has been broken that brings forth the sweet smelling fragrance of Christ to all!! Blessing!


Well said, but I’m not looking for material to occupy the time we share. I’m looking for material to occupy all the time he has alone. Sure Scripture is the best and it is sufficient once he has the faith to hear. Sometimes testimony and counsel of others (especially those that share a common thread in their past) can serve as a eye opener…

I think that you have to meet him at the place where he in his life. From what you are saying he is worried about when he gets out. He needs to be encourage that he headed in the right direction. He is seeking out christ in which scripture say that seeking leads to open doors.  As well as that he has and is overcoming addiction and lawlessness by being in confinement as I am sure he has had to fight to withstand a lot with the enviromemt he is currently in. He needs to be encouraged also of how Jesus sees him as more than an addiction and lawless behavior. Jesus is already speaking to him individually whether he realizes it or not. You know him better than I, but he has over came a lot and is taking amazing steps that are not easy for anyone. I think that the bottom line is he needs to really see his strength and what he has gone through any person is just a decision away from his same shoes. 

   AA really is a place for him to start when he gets out as well because it is Christ centered, it holds you accountable, and also brings fellowship with others who have been where he has and its free.
  Counseling and a halfway house are good choices as well. 

I know you are asking for book references, so my advice would be first to point him to an individual within the bible. For instance Paul who had many trials even prior to coming to Christ . The messanger bible is an easier more realateable reading material when it comes to language and understanding. Maybe point him to some scriptures to gods promises on how he is not alone.

Thank you for all that you are going. They are blessed to have you by their side.

Hi Carlton, @smokebetts Thank you for your heart for this very special ministry to the incarcerated. May God honor you for it.
I used to teach a women’s Bible study in a maximum security detention center, so I know bringing materials in sometimes is difficult. I don’t know how secure your facility is or if you have access to the internet inside the facility. It’s been a while for me, so you might have more freedom than what I was used to.
Dr. Tony Evans is a fabulouss source of spiritual teaching as well as having programs for men. I believe it’s called “Kingdom Men”. If you aren’t acquainted with him, he is the pastor of Oak Cliff Fellowship Church in Dallas, TX. He also has a daily broadcast called “The Urban Alternative”. (He was also the former chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys. I think his son has that position now.) If you aren’t able to use the YouTube links in the prison I’m sending in this reply (below), he has books on the same topics. If you Google “Books by Dr. Tony Evans”, you can see a broad selection. His sermon series usually have study guides you can purchase. His series on “Strongholds” probably would be an excellent resource. I know he is connected with a rehab ministry that has a high level of success and few cases of recidivism. I’m not sure what it is, but he mentions it in one of his “Stronghold” sermons. I would also suggest calling the church and tell them your situation if you want more exact information.
Dr. Tony Evans youtube sermons:

Other resources that might be helpful are the Salvation Army: and
Teen Challenge:
Of course, for one with addiction, staying close to God and in connection with supportive agencies and churches are crucial.
I hope you see this reply in time for the gentleman you wrote about. If not, it will be useful for the other men.

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