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A Juror’s Prayer

inscription on the courthouseBy Laurie Cervantez

Dread filled every part of my being as I opened the last piece of mail. Bold letters on the envelope proclaimed “Jury Summons.”

Oh no. Why me? I immediately searched for a valid reason to avoid my civic duty. Nothing. Kicking off my shoes, I melted into the couch, succumbing to the knowledge I would have to go. A perfect ending to a long day of issues at the office that could keep pace with the intensity of any courtroom drama.

A few weeks later the day inevitably arrived. Rolling out of bed, I stumbled bleary-eyed to the coffeepot and began to prepare for the long hours ahead. It was August in Texas and the humidity in the air promised a sweltering day. I fumbled through the closet to find something cool enough to wear and slipped into the most comfy shoes I could find, anticipating long walks from the parking garage and through the myriad of courtroom hallways. I scanned the room for a couple of magazines to keep from drowning in boredom, grabbed my sack lunch, and trudged out the door hoping to be dismissed early.

As expected, the morning commute was bustling with hurried motorists. Even though it’s been years since I was rear-ended, I still get uptight on the freeway during rush hour. In heavy traffic, my old pal “anxiety” is as certain to drop by as Pastor Hennesy is to show up to preach on Sunday morning. I said a prayer and doggedly pressed on, arriving safely at the courthouse and leaving my car in the parking garage with time to spare.

Once inside and through a security checkpoint, I was directed to a clerk who checked me in and directed me to a sitting area. I chose a spot close to the rear of the room to escape as much caffeine-generated chatter as possible. Dropping into the chair, I began winding down from the busyness of the morning.

Orientation started promptly at 8:30 and hosted a bevy of speakers discussing various topics ranging from duty, honor, and privilege to the six dollars we’d be earning for our service that day. When the instruction finally ended, we were divided into groups to await assignment. Wanting to avoid total boredom during the wait, I did a little reading, made myself a to-do list for the next day, and amused myself by watching people.

Eventually I gave in to the growling of my stomach and discreetly lowered my hand into my lunch bag to retrieve a snack. Thankful that everything I had in my bag didn’t crunch, I was about to stick a chunk of cheese into my mouth when my group was called for court assignment and juror selection.

An official escorted us to an elevator. We went up two floors and then down a hall to an area outside our assigned courtroom. Our escort told us to wait there for further instructions.

Fine marble graced the floors, which echoed with the sound of shuffling shoes from frenzied passersby. A mix of easily identifiable people filled the corridor: The attorneys sporting overpriced suits and lugging bulging briefcases. The accused, sullen and soft-spoken as they awaited their fate. And jurors making conversation to pass the time. Then suddenly the courtroom’s double doors swooped open to reveal a judge seated perfectly still at his bench. The scene reminded me of a television courtroom drama.

The judge faced the jurors and announced the defendant, frightened when he heard the prospective jurors stirring in the hallway, had decided to take his chances with a plea deal. His charge was armed robbery, his punishment twenty years. An aha moment. I suddenly realized there was more to my juror assignment than I had realized. There was a life at stake.

We were asked to return to the sitting area and wait for possible reassignment. As I sat, sorrow consumed me and I began to weep. What had caused this young man to reach this point? Was he under the influence of drugs or struggling from the loss of a job or the need to feed his family? Was he looking for acceptance by others? Or was he just plain lazy or consumed with greed? These things I would never know, nor were they my concern. I hadn’t seen his face, heard his story, or witnessed the fear in his eyes . . . but I had sensed the Lord prompting me to pray for him. And so I began:

Father God, I lift this young man up to you. You knew him in the womb before he was born and when he was a sweet, innocent child. You know the purposes and plans you have for his life and the circumstances that brought him here. I pray, Father, that he will discover you and your love for him during his imprisonment. That he will spend the years to come getting to know you and your Word. Protect him and watch over him. Give him a new sense of hope and direction. Mend his heart, heal his brokenness, and put a fire within him that burns for you. I pray your will be done in his life and that a mighty man of God will someday emerge from those prison walls. I pray for the salvation of his loved ones. Protect and provide for his children and spouse, who will now have to carry the load alone. I ask you to give him favor in employment and housing when he is paroled. Give him the inner strength to overcome the temptation Satan is sure to dangle in front of him. Cause him to beat the staggering odds of returning to prison. Use him to minister to others struggling in similar situations, both inside and outside the prison walls. I also pray for those who come into contact with him, Lord, that they would approach him with love and compassion. Cause them to remember their own sin—whether it be robbing you of the tithe, cheating on their taxes, failing to clock out for lunch break, or keeping overpaid change—when they consider pointing the finger of judgment at this young man. I also pray for the lives of the victims who have been touched by him in a negative way. Help them to forgive as you have forgiven us, and deliver them from any fear that has hindered their lives. Fill them with peace and joy and give them compassion for the lost. Thank you, Father, for allowing me to come here today to serve you by interceding for one of your own. I ask you to bring to fulfillment the plan and purpose of this precious life you cherish so much. In Jesus’ mighty name . . . amen.

My task was complete. Even my selfish request for early dismissal was answered. I reflected on my grumbling about the traffic, weather, inconvenience, and paltry six-dollar check that would be coming. Forgive me, Lord. I have so much to be thankful for.

I’ll always wonder if God led someone to pray for me in my time of trouble so many years ago. Perhaps they were even sitting on the back row flipping through magazines and nibbling on a piece of cheese. The blood of Jesus covers every crime. Forgiveness is available for all who ask. And prayer is a powerful, powerful thing.

Juror #403



Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 NLT


Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.         Colossians 3:13 NLT


Edited by Christian Editing Services.


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