A Necessary Step

This is Part 6 of a 6-part series.

1. What & who is a prodigal?
2. Prodigals & God’s plan
3. Loving a prodigal
4. Praying for prodigals
5. A prayer for prodigals—Part 1
6. A prayer for prodigals—Part 2

In the last post, I shared some of the ways this 6-part pattern of prayer has deepened my faith.

1. Lord, change me
2. Lord, my prodigal is Yours
3. Lord, change this prodigal
4. Lord, let sin run its course
5. Lord, sustain me as I wait
6. Lord, help me welcome the prodigal home

I’ll conclude this blog series by sharing what I learned from the last two prayers in this pattern.

Lord, sustain me as I wait

We spend much of our lives waiting on the Lord. I’ve done much waiting in other areas and other times. However, this waiting season proved a ripe ground for seeds of impatience, weeds of distrust in God’s provision, and thistles of worldly advice to “Do something!” Rescuing or fixing was quite enticing. But, oh, so wrong.

At times I was like a little child who keeps taking back the broken toy from her dad, not allowing time for him to fix it properly.

At times the distress was physically painful — not knowing what God was doing, not seeing any change, not knowing what was happening, not knowing if our son was alive.

But God!

Waiting on God meant trusting that God is sovereign. He is sovereign. God says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure (Isaiah 46:9b-10, NKJV).”

Clinging to the Word of God fostered sanity and peace. “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9, NKJV).” Amen. Amen. Amen. Jesus said that He would leave us peace, in fact, give us His peace. “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27, NKJV).”

I would not be consumed by this. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not (Lamentations 3:22 NKJV).”

I clung to God’s promises that He would be my strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).”

God help me welcome__________ home

What an interesting last step in praying for a prodigal. This pictures a future when the prodigal has returned.

Jesus told us to “forgive others” should we want our own sins to be forgiven (Luke 11:4).

Bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, malice — all sins to be repented of. Harsh memories, disappointments, anxieties, stressors — all to be given up, turned over to our Heavenly Father.

Do I forgive my prodigal for past sins before he or she returns home? Yes, as we learn in the Lord’s Prayer.

Do I forgive the prodigal while he or she is actively sinning against me (e.g., stealing, dishonouring, lying, sneaking around, manipulating, etc.)? Great question.

Love, the love of God, does not enable sin. I can forgive my prodigal without increasing the opportunity to sin. Truly, this is hard work, and only the wisdom of God can help us to navigate these waters. We can pray for heavenly wisdom (versus earthly demonic wisdom). God will give wisdom, liberally and without reproach, when we ask for it (James 1:5)!

Are we to forgive someone we no longer want a relationship with (e.g. old neighbour from another city, abusive former boss, ex-husband who is now remarried, etc.)? Good questions again.

Most of us adults know that forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation with others. There are some people I have forgiven that should be far away from me. In some situations, restored relating would be unhealthy or ungodly. It is sometimes healthier to have forgiveness from a distance.

But with a prodigal, we typically want to have restored relating.

  • We want to welcome home the new man, the new woman.
  • The renewed relationship will be built on a different ground, on the solid rock of Jesus.
  • God will build this new way of relating, one that reflects the changes in each person — in the prodigal, in me, in each member of my family.
  • We will want to be free from the “wounding’s” of the past.

Forgiveness is often a necessary step in this healthy reconciliation. How wonderful to start that process now, and to respond to Jesus’ prayer. “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those…”

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