“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
The following is an optional guide for those praying for fourth year UVA student, Otto Warmbier, and his family, as they approach one year since his sentencing to 15 years hard labor in a North Korean prison. Use as much or as little as the Lord leads you to. At the end of this post, you may leave words of support that will be shared with The Warmbiers. May you be led by the Spirit and blessed for your sacrificial prayers.
Our Father in heaven, we humbly yet boldly come before your throne, not based on any good thing that we have done, but only because of what your Son has done for us. We confess that apart from Him, we can do nothing; apart from Him, this time in prayer would be of no consequence other than to make us feel virtuous; but in Him, this time will have eternal implications. (Spend some time asking God to show you anything you need to confess, then do it, so that your prayers are unhindered.)
Hallowed be Your name. You alone are worthy of our worship, and we praise You. (spend some time in worship, using the music below or any other songs that help you focus on God’s greatness, power, majesty, mercy, forgiveness, love…)
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. We join with Jesus as He prays for Otto and ask Your Holy Spirit to guide us, illuminate our minds, sanctify our feeble imaginations and help us to pray according to your will so that You will receive much glory. Give us hearts to labor in prayer for Otto and his family, not just in this brief time, but as often as You bring them to mind so that they and their circumstances will be eternally impacted for Your glory. May they one day be able to claim this Psalm as their own:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Again, help us to pray according to Your will so that You will answer our prayers. (feel free to continue using this guide, being sensitive to listen to the Spirit as He leads you)
Give us this day our daily bread. We pray for Otto’s daily needs being met.
Physical: Please heal and bind up any wounds, injuries or illnesses that he faces. Cause his captors to grant him timely and effective medical care. Please provide much needed daily food and drink to sustain him (Be merciful to the people of N. Korea, including his guards, who rely primarily on what they are able to plant and harvest for their food supply.) Bring him needed warmth in the cold months and shade in the heat as he may be assigned to work the fields many hours each day. Grant him restorative and peaceful sleep each night. You see him, Lord. You know what he needs. We humbly ask that You give him what he needs in such a way that he recognizes You are with him and You care for him. May he one day be able to claim this song as his own.
Mental: Give him a sound mind and the strength to recognize and cling to what is true and reject what is not true. Enable him to focus on what is good, excellent, praiseworthy from his past, and even in this present difficulty. Remind him of any truth he ever heard or was taught about the God who created him and who is with him, even in this dark place. Let him not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Show Yourself to him, open his eyes that he would see You, his ears that he would hear You and his heart that he will know Your love. Remind him of the great lengths You have gone to for him and for all of us, suffering much to accomplish our rescue. Revive him; help him to trust You.
Emotional: Protect and deliver him from depression and hopelessness. Reveal Yourself to him in unexpected ways, and let him take heart that he is not alone. Give him a strong sense of your presence. Oh Great God, be small enough to hear his prayers — and ours.
Overcome the isolation created by geographical distance, language barriers and lack of communication with family or friends. Specifically, we ask that he be allowed visitors who will encourage him, care for him and effectively advocate for him. (He has had less frequent visits than any other foreign prisoner held captive in this country.) We pray you would soften the heart of the N. Korean government, especially the leaders, in spite of the temptation to use him as a political pawn. Just as you have done in the past, we ask you to move upon the heart of Kim Jong-un. Use any and every influence for the good of Otto, however random and unpredictable. We pray for willing partners in Your plan. We pray that the escalating tensions between our countries would lessen and doors will open again for humanitarian visits to be approved and to take place. Put your people in his path. We pray for Your miraculous rescue and deliverance; let Otto be set free and safely returned to his family and the UVA community.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
We pray for Otto’s captors; the guards and government officials who interact with him; the leaders of N. Korea who determine his fate. We, too, were once enemies of Christ and violators of God’s requirement to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with You. But you brought us out of darkness into Your marvelous light. You forgave our sin, so we must forgive others. Please bring faith in this closed land, hostile to the gospel. Allow Your word to be heard and believed. No one is beyond Your reach.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Deliver Otto and his family from the evil schemes of the Enemy who seeks to discourage and depress their hearts and destroy their souls. Lord, we cannot imagine what they must be going through for the past year since he was sentenced. Please surround them in this dark time with evidences of Your love through the kindness of others. Have mercy on his family in the anguish they must feel not knowing how he is doing and when he will come home. Comfort them, Lord. We pray for Your divine hand to move heaven and earth on their behalf. Specifically, let them have encouraging communication with him soon.
This battle is truly not against flesh and blood. We pray they will be encouraged to know that what men plan for evil, You can redeem and use for good. Remind them that many of Your beloved sons and daughters have suffered imprisonment, felt forgotten and cried out in anguish. Your own Son was not spared the injustice and evil deeds of wicked men. But You are able to redeem anything. What was the worst thing became the best thing and is the evidence that You are good, all the time. Help the Warmbiers to have the hope of this truth.
Thank you, Lord, that You are able to do far more than we can ever ask or imagine. Be pleased to show yourself strong for Otto and his family. Again, we pray for Your miraculous rescue and deliverance; let Otto be set free and safely returned to his family and the UVA community.
For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen
Leave your message of encouragement and support below. It will be forwarded to the Warmbier Family:
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:34b-40