Praying the Prodigal Home

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

In my daily prayers I begin by offering (rededicating) my body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) and my mind, to be renewed by Him. (Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8) I also give Him my heart (Ezekiel 36:26), asking Him to make my heart more like His.

Lately I have come to realize that this is a dangerous thing to ask, because if my heart is like His, that means my heart will be broken by the same things that break the Father’s heart. And that can be painful!

I believe one of the things that breaks our Father’s heart the most is when one of His children go astray. As a parent I know that what hurts my child hurts me – and sometimes hurts me more than it seems to be hurting the child at the time.

The heart of an adult prodigal’s parent is especially prone to breakage. Though a mother would willingly lay down her life for her child, and though she may know what is best for him, she also knows that she can no longer make life decisions for him. Every human being – even the child of loving, godly parents – has the power to choose evil over good, and children often don’t anticipate the future consequences of their choices. But parents can, and when their warnings are ignored, all they can do is watch him make bad choices and pray for him.

But that “last resort” is highly underrated!

I think one reason prayer is so underestimated is that answers seldom come instantly, and in our age of microwaves, ATMs, and drive-up windows, we expect them to. But Galatians 6:9 tells us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.”

Recently I was praying for one such prodigal, and I found myself praying some verses I knew. I love praying Scripture. It reinforces truth in my mind and heart and gives me assurance that I am praying God’s will.

The verses were from Psalm 139, about the God who sees and knows everything about me, and how I am never out of His reach. I have prayed that Psalm over myself, but when I prayed it over this prodigal, it took on new meaning. I was applying these truths to someone who may not be aware of them at the moment, but that doesn’t matter to God. Nor does it matter that I don’t know where that person is or what she’s doing; God does.

Realizing these things, I prayed the whole psalm, committing the prodigal to the One who knows and loves her:

Oh Lord, You have searched her, and You know her.

You know when she sits and when she rises; You perceive her thoughts from afar.

You discern her going out and her lying down; You are familiar with all her ways.

Before a word is on her tongue [or cell phone or social media page] You know it completely, O Lord.

You hem her in, behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon her.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for her, too lofty for her to attain.

Where can she go from Your spirit? Where can she flee from Your presence?

If she goes up to the heavens, You are there; if she makes her bed in the depths, You are there.

If she rises on the wings of the dawn, if she settles on the far side of the sea,

Even there Your hand will guide her; Your right hand will hold her fast.

If she says, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”

Even the darkness will not be dark to You: the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.

For You created her inmost being; you knit her together in her mother’s womb.

I praise You, because she is fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Her frame was not hidden from You when she was made in the secret place.

When she was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw her unformed body.

All the days ordained for her were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

How precious concerning her are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

Were she to count them, they would, outnumber the grain of sand. When she awakes, she is still with You.

If only You would slay the wicked, O God! Away from her, you bloodthirsty men!

They speak of You with evil intent; Your adversaries misuse Your name.

Does she not hate those who hate You, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against You?

She has nothing but hatred for them; she counts them her enemies.

Search her, O God, and know her heart; test her and know her anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in her, and lead her in the way everlasting.”

For the most part, this psalm fits what I am praying for this “prodigal.” But I’d like to clarify the lines about “bloodthirsty men” and God’s adversaries, because centuries after David wrote this psalm, Jesus gave His followers the shocking command to love their enemies.

As one who loves a prodigal, as much as I want to wish ill on those who are a bad influence, I know they, too, are possibly stray sheep who need prayer, as well. Hard as it is, we should also be praying for them, that they too will be brought to repentance and brought (back) into the loving arms of the Father.

When I read in Scripture about God’s adversaries, I don’t see humans, but rather “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) Those fallen angels are at work to destroy us and our children – and the ones they work through to mislead our prodigal.

So, let us commit to God both the prodigal and his/her friends to be brought to repentance and home to their Father, where they belong.

Prayer: Lord, give us hearts that don’t give up. We entrust our prodigals to You, knowing they are in good hands. In Jesus’ name, amen.

35 thoughts on “Praying the Prodigal Home

  1. “I believe one of the things that breaks our Father’s heart the most is when one of His children go astray.” Amen

    The Father’s heart only knows true peace when ALL of His children are seated with him at the table. Luke 14:16-17, 23

    Blessings. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The ‘last resort’ – prayer as you said can be so often underrated as the answers are never immediate.
    I love praying scriptures too Annie. There is such power in praying Gods word over someone.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I deeply appreciate how you brought Jesus’ instructions to love and pray for our enemies into this.
    Yes, we hate what some influencers do, but they are equally deceived and headed for a judgement that calls to mind Habakkuk’s prayer, O, LORD, in wrath, remember mercy.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “In my daily prayers I begin by offering (rededicating) my body as a living sacrifice.”

    However, the body is NOT the flesh we are to offer as a living sacrifice. As God’s word was made flesh, so is man’s word (Jeremiah 23:36) made flesh. It is this invisible or spiritual flesh, formed within by OUR OWN WORD, living within us, that we need to sacrifice. The sacrificing of this flesh is OUR burden, NOT the Lord’s. They sacrificed the WRONG flesh two thousand years ago. The sacrificing of this internal flesh requires an internal circumcision. Jeremiah 4:4

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    1. Interesting thoughts, Sandra. As it is, by the time I’m finished praying I have offered everything I am and have to the Lord, inside and out. I know our bodies are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, and everything we do in these physical bodies should honor the Lord. But then so should everything we think/focus on mentally, and everything we dedicate our wills/hearts to. I know that anything I offer Him is imperfect, but I thank Him daily for His grace in accepting me anyway. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Yes, the temple symbolizes the body. And yes, “everything we think/focus on mentally, and everything we dedicate or wills/hearts to…in these physical bodies should honor the Lord.”

        Jesus spoke in parables, using symbolism to teach us the spiritual things of God, saying “clean the inside of the cup and the platter and the outside of them will become clean.” The cup is what we drink from, to “drink” meaning to “think” (in the mind). The platter is what we eat from, to “eat” meaning to “accept” (in the heart). If we purify the thoughts of our mind and the emotions of our heart, our actions will become clean. Thought, emotion, action, defining the soul.

        Jesus entered the temple and overthrew the false images that had been set up on the tables. These false images symbolize the false beliefs (religious and personal) that we have set up on “the fleshy tables of the heart,” which only truth can overturn.

        Jesus was raised on the third day. We are in the third day; in the beginning of the third-thousand year (2Peter 3:8) since the crucifixion of Jesus. It is time to resurrect what JESUS is (within our hearts) which is TRUTH, which is done through the overcoming of our false (religious and personal) beliefs. In this we “honor the Lord.” honoring Truth!

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  5. “When I read in Scripture about God’s adversaries, I don’t see humans, but rather “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) This is a great reminder on many levels. Not just for our loved ones, but for our government leaders. It’s important to remember who the real enemy is! Great post, Annie! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen, Cindy. I pray for our leaders daily, even (especially) those I believe are being used by the enemy for evil purposes. Praying they get caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced to face justice here in this life, so they have a chance to repent and may not have to face justice in eternity.

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  6. Not too long ago my wife Sue and I were discussing how God’s ability to Love (He IS love) is so far beyond our comprehension and we had been praying for some lost loved ones. We began talking about how greatly His heart must be broken concerning His creation who rejects Him and I got to thinking, if He is love and His love is so much greater than we can imagine, then His heartbreak has got to be on par with that love. We couldn’t bear it in our bodies if we could feel it that greatly! Great, Great article! Thanks and God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We have experienced a prodigal son. This was about 7 years ago, he left his wife and two children. We were not surprised since they were having a lot of issues. We understood why he left but did not agree with him on doing so. Right away we started praying this way, “whatever it takes Lord, bring him back to you. We chose to allow him to live with us as long as he paid some on rent and utilities. At that time his wife was not letting him the kids much because of places he was living not being fit. We knew she would allow the kids to visit if we were there, she felt they were safe with us around. We chose to practice tough love with him, I did not baby sit, take care of his kids when he had them, wash his and their clothes. I did cook for us all. All he ask us not to do was invite him to church and we didn’t. We shared a place for about two years. A year and half into him living with us we begin to see signs of conviction on him and one day he told us he was going to try and get back together with the kids Mom.
    They remarried about six months later and now they have three children, doing well. I praise the Lord for conviction. If one belongs to the Lord He will do what He promised to do with them if they stray. We just knew if he could have his kids more and carry the weight of his choice there was a chance he would return. I had a lady get upset with me when I told her how I prayed for my son. She had a wayward son at home taking advantage of her big time. she I can’t pray, “whatever it takes” , what if he gets worst. That son is in prison now for drugs. We must chose like the father of the prodigal, let them go…do not chase after them, do not enable them and their sin. Not everyone has the same situation but according to ours this is how we chose to act upon it. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen, and amen! You were very wise – a great blending of grace and tough love. If we become enablers, we will be aiding them in their rebellion. On the other hand, God can handle the discipline of our adult children – often He is harder on them than we want to be. But as a friend told me God told her, “Don’t take him off the hook God put him on.” (What the other lady did, whose son is now in prison. 😦 )That only prolongs the painful lessons. Your son had decades to figure out what you believe and didn’t need to be told he was welcome to join you at church. It takes FAITH to let go and let God do the convicting. (It also keeps you from being blamed for things going badly. 😉 )
      Thanks so much for sharing this encouraging story! Bless you!! ❤

      Like

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