This is Part 5 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 a 6-part pattern of prayer I learned while waiting for my prodigal to return.
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’d like to share with you some of the ways that this prayer pattern has deepened my faith. What follows are the first four.
1. Lord, change me.
God is doing a work in each and every person who loves a prodigal. God challenges each of us to deepen our trust in His sovereign plan, in His timing, in who He is (His attributes, His Word).
As a fellow believer once spoke, “God will ask you the same question every day. Do you trust Me?” (Chuck Missler). This quote hangs on my wall underneath God’s promise that God will “keep me in perfect peace when my mind is stayed on Him because I trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV).”
So, in the pain and uncertainty of loving a prodigal, we can pray that God will do His work in us. We can pray, like King David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24, NKJV).”
2. Lord, my prodigal is Yours.
This prodigal was given to me, loaned to me. Remember the attributes of God? God who is all seeing, all knowing, all present, placed this prodigal in my life. Nothing is outside of His view. Ultimately, my prodigal is God’s — God’s creation. God placed this prodigal into this time, this family, this body, this culture, etc.
“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139: 13-14, NKJV).”
I learned to pray over and over again: “Father, I trust You. Jesus, I trust You. Holy Spirit, I trust You. Thank You for what You have done in my prodigal’s life, what You are doing (that I cannot see), and what You will do (to bring this prodigal to the foot of the cross). I choose to trust You.”
3. Lord, change [prodigal’s name].
God is all knowing. God knows exactly what is needed to bring the heart of a prodigal to Him. God knows what this prodigal needs.
I was reminded over and again that there is a real enemy clouding the mind of my prodigal. Scripture tells us that we can pray to pull down those strongholds that are blinding our loved ones to the good news of Jesus.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NKJV).”
And I was reminded over and again, “None are righteous, no not even one … all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10; 23, NKJV).”
So, while longing for the miracle yet to be given, I learned to cling to the truth that “Nobody comes to Jesus unless the Father draws him (John 6:44, NKJV).” I can pray, “Father, draw this prodigal to Jesus, for You are ‘not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV).”
4. Lord, let sin run its course.
The law of sowing and reaping refers to the judgment that God allows as a natural result of our choices. This is part of sin running its course.
The prodigal in Jesus’ parable finally came to his senses (Luke 15:17 NIV). But prior to that? It seemed he needed to be done with being hungry, to be disgusted with feeding pigs, to sicken of the mess he was in. He needed to no longer want to cling to his sin. He needed to live with the consequences of his choices until he was done with the sinning. And he needed to remember that he had left something much, much better.
As a parent of a prodigal what did this mean for me, practically speaking? What was I not to do?
- I was not to step in as savior and rescue, only to see this prodigal run back to live inside the pig pen.
- I was not to prolong the time this prodigal chose to live in the prodigal land by easing the stench of the pig pen, the pangs of hunger.
- I was not to soften the hard consequences that God was putting in place.
- I was not to let my fear of what might happen rule the day.
From a parent perspective this was excruciating. Until I remembered the truths:
- Lord, You made him.
- Lord, this prodigal is Yours.
- Lord, You love him even more than I do!
- Lord, You want him to come to Jesus. You do not want him to perish.
Over and again my husband would remind me that God knew exactly what our son needed to come to the foot of the cross.
And what should I do (versus not do)? I could pray.
“Father, ‘open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified] by faith (Acts 26:18 NJKV),’ in Jesus’ name. Father, help this prodigal ‘awake to righteousness, and … not sin (1 Corinthians 15:34, NKJV)’.”