Prayer Boot Camp Is Unlocking Doors to the Gospel In Ohio Prisons

Prayer Boot Camp Is Unlocking Doors to the Gospel In Ohio Prisons

“He who enters here leaves not hope behind.” – James M. Cox, former Ohio governor.

In Ohio prisons, where hope is often in short supply, chaplains venture behind prison walls to bring hope to the hopeless using Prayer Boot Camp, and Ohio Baptists are coming alongside them to encourage their work.

Prayer Boot Camp is a week-long program based upon The Battle Plan for Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, producers of the movie War Room, and as part of the curriculum participants view clips of the movie during Prayer Boot Camp and then watch the entire movie together.

Prayer Boot Camps were introduced in 2016 but using them in prison ministry was not on the radar. However, a call from Robert Smith at the Marion Correctional Institute (MCI) changed everything. The first Prayer Boot Camp at MCI had over one hundred inmates participating.

Six years later, Smith, now a chaplain at Lebanon Correctional Institute (LeCI), is still using Prayer Boot Camp within the walls of the prisons. He sees inmates connecting to the material. “They share with other inmates what they are learning,” said Smith. “We always keep a supply of the books to give to others.” Often, inmates request a copy of the book for their wives. Smith recently announced Prayer Boot Camp at LeCI, and sixty inmates requested permission to come. “We only had places for thirty, so we’re working on scheduling another.”

Recently, Steve Long, retired AMS of Northwest Baptist Association, Mark Painter of Violet BC, and Ray Gaffney of Galilee BC, Defiance, led a Prayer Boot Camp at Toledo Correctional Institute with Chaplain Ken Rupert, pastor of East Toledo Baptist Church.

“Many of these believers are young in their faith and don’t understand the importance of prayer or how to pray,” said Rupert. “I am seeing growth in their prayers and their understanding of prayer. We have incorporated The Battle Plan for Prayer into our weekly Bible study. During our worship services, inmates are allowed to lead in prayer; they are prepared to be active participants in the service, not just observers. I appreciate the sacrifices, commitment, and passion of the facilitators who make these workshops possible.”

For more information about how to be part of a Prayer Boot Camp team or how to host a Prayer Boot Camp in a local church, please contact Steve Hopkins at or call 614-601-6820.

Inmates at the Toledo Correctional Institution learn about prayer.