An attitude of gratitude doesn’t happen naturally, especially in prison. With its uncomfortable living conditions, constant noise, and unpleasant people, prison can be dark and lonely—hardly a place where one might think to count their blessings.

The heart of every prisoner is a battleground for the war between good and evil that surrounds them on a daily basis. Satan thrives on the negativity that exists behind the razor wire. He works hard to keep a prisoner’s attention on life’s difficult and unpleasant circumstances, so they become critical and complain and turn away from God. Satan knows that if a person is looking only at what’s wrong in their lives, they’re bound to get depressed and succumb to hopelessness.

During the 31 years I was locked up, I learned the importance of living with gratitude. But it wasn’t until I surrendered my life to Christ and started reading my Bible that I realized how much I had to be grateful for, even in prison.

Learning about the Apostle Paul changed how I looked at my circumstances. Paul went through some tough times in his life, including being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and thrown into prison (2 Corinthians 11:23–28). But through it all, he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus rather than his problems (Hebrews 12:2). He kept fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12) and relied on God for the grace he needed to endure (2 Corinthians 12:9). He praised God even when He was suffering, remembering that his trials were temporary and would bring God glory (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).

From his prison cell in Rome, Paul taught that God wants His children to rejoice, pray, and give thanks, regardless of the circumstances they face (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). Doing time in prison never felt good, and I can’t say that I ever rejoiced over the bad things that happened to me while I was there. But my attitude began to change, as did my life, when I took Paul’s advice and started praising God for the blessings I could see and praying for Him to reveal the ones I couldn’t.

God opened my eyes to the beauty all around me and revealed the ways He was using my time in prison for His purpose and giving my life meaning. Through me, God was doing things I didn’t think were possible (Ephesians 3:20). I was most thankful that Jesus died on the cross to save my soul from eternal death. I can’t thank God enough for His gift of salvation. I certainly don’t deserve it and never could have earned it.

Learning to live with gratitude on the inside of prison prepared me for life in the free world too. Out here, I’ve found that being grateful and counting God’s blessings is still the only way to survive. Life is difficult on both sides of the prison wall!

I am grateful for every minute that I spent behind bars. Without the experience, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. Prison life wasn’t easy, but when has easy ever gotten anyone anywhere worth going?

If you’re struggling in a dark place and overwhelmed by your circumstances, look to God. Praise Him for what He’s about to do. The joy of the Lord will drive out the darkness and give you the strength to overcome anything (Nehemiah 8:10).


ROY A. BORGES served 31 years in the Florida Department of Corrections, where he realized his need for a Savior. While incarcerated, Roy ministered to others through his writings, over 300 of which have been published. Roy’s book, 101 Short Stories from the Prison Cell, is available from