The Right Perspective

This is Part 2 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

Prodigals Reject God’s Plan

God has a plan. The prodigal rejects that.

So what happens when a prodigal continues rejecting God?

In Romans 1:18-32 the Apostle Paul describes the downward slide that comes from the rejection of God—minds darkened, idol (and self) worship, sexual immorality, sexual perversion, a debased mind that eventually celebrates others doing wrong. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, tells us that the “carnal mind is enmity against God (Romans 8:7a, NKJV).” This is very serious stuff.

How does this translate into family life?

First, the prodigal rejects the voices of the people who love them.1

These are the people who have often been protectors or providers, who have seen them at their worst— and still love them. Imagine witnessing a car crash that could be prevented. Your loved one is in the driver’s seat and will not listen to you, and you watch the accident happen, unable to stop it. If you are in the car, you brace for impact. If only…

Second, the prodigal rejects the roles that God has given them.2

For example, the role of a daughter (at the very least) is to honor her father and mother, to listen to them. The role of a husband (at the very least) is to be faithful to his wife.  The role of a grandmother (at the very least) is to encourage and support the well-being of her sons and daughters and grandchildren. These roles are how we express the godly love that we have for the people God has given us. Imagine if the prodigal embraced that role with godliness and contentment. If only…

A Prodigal’s Game Plan

Our enemy knows that “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life” are pretty enticing (1 John 2:16b). If a prodigal has not been born again of the Spirit, then they really have no defense against their own flesh, the world system, and the enemy of their soul. Their conscience might convict them, but it is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to continue to say “no” to sin.

So what does the prodigal want? Basically, they cling to their sin.

Prodigals want to:

  • make choices without experiencing the consequences of their actions
  • leave without having the loss that follows
  • act without accepting accountability (responsibility) for their actions3

Clearly these choices, their leaving, and their actions impact other people.

How do prodigals woo or push people into getting their wayward prodigal goals?

Common patterns include:

  • victim-centredness—I am the victim here!
  • loud declarations of independence—It’s my life!
  • blackmailed threats of leaving the relationship with their loved ones, including shunning—If you don’t, then I will never come back!4

All of this combines into one big mess, leaving a trail of wreckage. Guilt, shame, hopelessness, and fear flood the lives of loved ones who barely have time to recover from the last disaster before the next one hits.5

To continue with the driving analogy, loved ones often drive on the shoulders of a long and discouraging road. On one gravel-embedded shoulder is the urge to rescue, to be the savior. On the other side of the road is the shoulder of helplessness, reinforced over and again by the thoughts that “nothing is working” combined with feelings of powerlessness.

Reminder of God’s Plan

So what is the solution to the life of a prodigal?

Jesus saves. The way out of this mess, the road to redemption, is being washed by Jesus’ saving blood and living a life in submission to His will.

Only Jesus saves. Rebuke the lie of being savior to anyone, especially this prodigal.

And what is the task of someone who loves a prodigal?

  1. Actively pray, and delve into God’s inspired Word!
  2. Remember against whom we wrestle (Ephesians 6:12). Armour up and pray (Ephesians 6:13-18)!
  3. Refute the lie of being ineffective. Tell yourself the truth—God answers prayers!

Remember, it is only one step back to Jesus for this prodigal, just like it was for us!

A Prayer for Prodigals

Father, we come to Your throne of grace to receive grace and mercy for the prodigals we love. You want none to be lost. Rescue them. You are full of grace and mercy. Have mercy on them. No one comes to Jesus unless You draw them. Draw them, Father. And Father, today is the day of salvation. Today, please, Father, arise and defend Your cause! I ask for heavenly wisdom, given liberally and without reproach. Give me understanding and guide my steps, in Your will, not mine.

 

FOOTNOTES

1Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert (2016).  Letting Go: Rugged love for wayward souls Michigan: Zondervan, p. 48
2Letting Go, p. 49
3Letting Go, pp. 44, 56-58
4Letting Go, pp. 36-40
5Letting Go, p. 40-41

 

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