My heart continues to be pulled toward prodigals. God is definitely emphasizing prayer for them at this time. Our friend, Dr. Brenda Marlin, has written a great article regarding praying for prodigals. Ceci and I had the privilege of knowing Brenda and her husband, David, several years ago when they attended our church in Colorado. At the time, she was president of the official women’s ministry of U.S. military chapels. I know her sound and practical wisdom will help us pray more effectively.
The Divine Setup
Do you have an adult child who has run away from God? Does thinking about praying for them leave you with a deep feeling of weariness and despair? If you’re a church leader, do you keep the disappointment hidden to avoid judgment by others? Do you feel as though your prayers remain unheard, and you are left hopeless? Or do you feel confused and disappointed with God because you think you did almost everything right in raising your child, and they turned away from God anyway?
I have experienced some of these same feelings. In the process of living through an agonizing season of watching my daughter fall away from God, and then return to a wonderful relationship with Him, I learned that He is a loving, sovereign, good, good Father. I also discovered there are redemptive treasures found within difficult seasons. The supernatural peace, joy, and growth I received toward the end of that time were undeniable. But more than that, I learned how to love God and others more profoundly and accept His love for me more fully. Likewise, your journey of praying for your prodigal will produce a season of good things if you trust God and don’t give up.
Isaiah 61 addresses how God rebuilds ancient ruins and restores what’s been broken for generations. God wants to transform His children, so He never gets weary or tired in the lifelong pursuit of His beloved. He looks for ways to fertilize and grow the seeds of destiny locked away within the gardens of our souls.
If you find yourself in the situation of loving a prodigal adult child, you’re not in the minority, and you are not alone! No one needs to hide in shame, because healing comes from sharing what we are experiencing with trusted friends and counselors.
Recent survey results released in George Barna’s American Worldview Inventory 2020-2021 reveal that a meager percentage of Generation X and Millennials has a biblical worldview. Although many indicate they are Christians, they do not hold to foundational biblical truths. The way they define Christian living is vastly different from the way older generations believe.
Considering this evidence, we need God to help us in a time of great need. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, our children need a wake-up call to understand the depravity of their situation. They need a spiritual revelation, opening their eyes to see their need for the one true God.
All these distressing issues are leading to a divine setup of biblical proportions. To help encourage and align us with God’s plan for this coming season, I want to suggest a few strategies to help heal your heart from past discouragement and position you for the forthcoming great awakening. If parents and grandparents join God in doing the specific prayer work I suggest, the benefits will unlock revival in our hearts that will flow down and bear good fruit for generations to come.
Face fear head-on. Decision-making based on fear never takes you down the right path. Face the fearful thoughts regarding your prodigal and confess them to God. Read and meditate on such passages as 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Ephesians 6:10-18 and Philippians 4:6-8 to start the prayer strategy process.
Trust the process. Many weary parents get discouraged because they don’t see a quick enough turnaround in their prodigal child. Stories about instant deliverances in the lives of others’ loved ones keep parents hoping for the same. When that doesn’t come, discouragement can set in.
However, God must often take people through a process versus an instant transformation. Stand on whatever promises God has given you and trust He is at work in both you and your child, even if you don’t see Him working.
Make it personal. If you think your prayers don’t matter, think again. When I was at the point of being too tired or disappointed in seeing little to no results from my prayers, the Lord reminded me of my favorite Scripture, Proverbs 3:5-6. He had me repeat it in a first-person manner, emphasizing the word “all.” “Trust Me with all your heart, and do not lean into your own understanding, Brenda.” Fear has no place in trusting God and His perfect love for you and your children. So personalize it and place your name in this encouraging Scripture.
Renounce ill-spoken words. In times of frustration, we speak of things we later regret. Our words have great power. Proverbs 18:21 tells us how the tongue has the power of life and death; what you say matters. Ask God if there are any negative words you’ve spoken about or to your children regarding judgments you’ve made. Speaking words and phrases such as “They will never …,” or, “You’re never going to …,” influences and reinforces the behavior you do not want to see. Confess to God the negative words you’ve spoken, and renounce them. Then, take time to announce opposite words of truth that bring life. Ask your child’s forgiveness if they heard you say these things.
Ask for fresh revelation. Song of Songs 4:12 says you are a garden locked up. Seeds of potential are buried within the garden of your soul. When we turn to God with our pain and disappointment, He can redeem everything. I learned that in the place of pressure and fiery trials, the Holy Spirit brings beautiful gems and treasures from the ashes of our lives. From the understanding God gave me of the Song of Songs, I now use this book and my artwork as a strategic prayer template for helping people move into His plan. Pray and ask God to give you a fresh revelation of something new He’s unlocking in you through this situation.
Abide in the Father’s love. Spending daily time abiding with God to seek His love, peace, wisdom, and comfort helped me more than anything else. Pray that God gives both you and your child a revelation of the deep love of the Father. Pray Ephesians 1:17-18, that God would provide a spirit of wisdom and revelation for you and your child to know Him more and that the eyes of your hearts would open to see Him in the midst of your lives.
Speak into another mother and father’s prodigal child. Speak life into a young adult. Even a word or two spoken to a cashier, waitress, or employee you work with can move mountains and set things in motion for their return to God. There is life in your words and the prayers of parents behind those words.
In all things, praise the Lord. Thank God and worship Him. He knows what it will take to turn your beloved around. Trust Him with all your heart and lean not into your understanding. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy! Acknowledge to your Heavenly Father how you feel about your child’s decisions, and then let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Keep your eyes on Jesus and trust Him with the process. Read and pray from the book of Psalms for added encouragement and comfort during these difficult times.
Find a battle buddy. God has not designed you to carry your burdens alone. I have a group of trusted friends with whom I pray regularly. Long ago, I prayed and asked God to send me a friend to pray with who had children around my children’s age. He answered my prayer, connecting me to a lady who worked only two buildings up from mine. We quickly became prayer battle buddies and dear friends who have prayed for our children through some tough times. We have seen both little and big victories, but most of all, we have seen God’s love abound immeasurably more than we asked, hoped for, or imagined (see Eph. 3:19-20). God answered my prayer for a prayer battle buddy, but I got so much more than that.
Let love be your guide. Let 1 Corinthians 13 be your template for how to love your prodigal. Choose to listen to them. Since they have walked away from God, let the Holy Spirit weave together His master plan of how to reach them. We can join Him by continuing to pray for them and showing His love in practical ways.
When we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, He helps us walk out our difficult seasons with His grace and strength. Even if you are in the painful years of agony, watching your adult child throw away everything they have learned about God, He will always be with you. You will no longer have to run and hide from the judgment of others but find help and treasures in this challenging season of your life. God can redeem, rebuild and bring beauty from the ashes of your life and your prodigal’s as well. He can make everything beautiful in its time (see Eccl. 3:11).
Pray with me:
Father, as Brenda reminds us, Your heart beats for the saving and restoring of all people. You rebuild ancient ruins and restore what has been broken (Isaiah 61). We lock our faith into this truth, knowing You are working in the lives of our prodigals to remove strongholds, destroy deception, and revive truth. We will hold fast to this throughout the process, casting down all fear and refusing to waver.
Lord, our prodigals have been the victims of a decades-long strategy to discredit Your Word. This has occurred through our education system, our government, entertainment, and religion. We do believe, however, that You are setting things up in our nation for a great awakening of prodigals - through the coming shaking, outbreaks of power, explosions of truth, and a release of Your great love.
We break the power of any word curses we or others have spoken over our children, renouncing them and replacing them with Your words: Our children are and will be taught of the Lord; their peace and wholeness is and will be great! No weapon that has ever been formed against them will prosper; this is our - and their - heritage from the Lord (Isaiah 54:13-17).
We decree that all of our children will know, love, and be taught by Father God.
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Today’s post was written by Dr. Brenda Marlin. Brenda is a speaker, author, and artist. She is also a professor and former president of the official international women’s ministry of U.S. military chapels. Brenda and her husband David (retired Sgt. First Class) live in central Texas, where they continue to minister to the military and others. Find out more about her at BrendaMarlin.com.