This is Part 3 of a 6-part series.
- What & who is a prodigal?
- Prodigals & God’s plan
- Loving a prodigal
- Praying for prodigals
- A prayer for prodigals—Part 1
- A prayer for prodigals—Part 2
God gave me the blessing of a prodigal son. Had you asked me four years ago, I would not have paired “blessing” and “prodigal.” I likely used words like “painful,” “heart-wrenching,” “humbling,” “sleepless,” “gruesome,” “complicated,” “uncertain,” “hard.”
But God has used this for good, as only God can.
Being a parent of a prodigal has, at times, been a very difficult blessing. But it has been a blessing—even in those difficult times. In the process, God has been forming me into who He wants me to become. For “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, NKJV).”
Somewhere along the line I realized that any pride I had in parenting climbed out the window and ran off into the middle of the night! God does oppose the proud, and God does give grace to the humble (James 4:6).
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord! (Psalm 27:13-14, NKJV).”
Many, perhaps most of us, love a prodigal. The prodigal can be a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, an aunt, or uncle—the list seems endless.
Loving a prodigal includes remembering (see Part 1):
- each of us were once a prodigal
- those who have Jesus as Lord and Savior are no longer prodigals when we continue to follow Him
- there is hope for the prodigal (as there was once hope for us, hope that has been realized!)
- sin hurts those around us
As someone who loves a prodigal we intentionally wait on God for His work, His timing, His salvation. And we actively pray that our Heavenly Father will extend His hand of mercy.
In truth, I could not have imagined what the return of a prodigal really looked like. God’s grace and mercies create unimaginable miracles. But if we could imagine the basics of the return of a prodigal, what would we see? What would we feel? What relief, joy, gratitude will flood us?
Think about this challenge — what would happen if we began to pray in thanks for all those prayers being answered, in God’s perfect and holy way?
The Blessing of Loving a Prodigal
It surprises me how many people have prayed for prodigals for years, even decades. I’ve met many daughters and sons of the Most High King who continue to trust in God’s perfect will and timing. What a blessing their faith is to me. (I imagine if they were writing this blog post they would have many blessings to add.)
Can I narrow the many blessings to a short list? I can try:
- Losing any sense of “I was a pretty good parent.” (Really, that climbed out the second story window and fled!) Only God is good!
- Deepening my understanding that God is sovereign. I am less in charge than I thought. But my God is really, really big!
- Scripture is my go-to now, even more than ever. I am eager to read the Word, to be changed by the Word, to talk about the Word, to learn about the Word. What an awesome privilege!
- Praying can be constant and can take many forms (adoration, thanksgiving, worship, pleading at the throne, speaking Scripture, praising God, etc.). And the more I pray, the more I know I need to pray more!
What to Do While You Wait
Here’s my short list of “to-dos” as I continue to pray for prodigals in my life:
- Read the Word out loud. Who hates the Word of God? Hmmm… Reading Scripture out loud is spiritual warfare against our enemy.
- Focus on the attributes of God in His Word. There are around 24 or 25 in Scripture. We can be even more certain that God is unchanging, and consistent, and sovereign, and merciful, etc.
- Find other believers to pray with. I am not alone in this, and neither are you if you love a prodigal. God is still answering prayers. You will be encouraged. I was!
- Pray using Scripture to stay in the will of God, to know what God wants us to pray for.
- Remember that God is not surprised by any of this. He has allowed this trial so my faith will be stronger. I will develop perseverance and character and hope (Romans 5:4).
A Prayer While I Wait
Father, You have given me a prodigal. Thank You for the blessings You are bestowing. Thank You for changing me. Thank You that You care enough about me not to leave me as I am. You are sovereign. Your plans are best. Move in my life to deepen my relationship with Jesus. I trust You, Father. I trust You, Jesus. I trust You, Holy Spirit, that You are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to bring my prodigal to Jesus. You will keep me in perfect peace when my mind is stayed on You (Isaiah 26:3). Strengthen me in You. Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for what You have already done, are doing and will do. Amen!