"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 NIV
Years ago, I had a friend whose older sister ran away from home as a young teenager. This sister was beautiful, intelligent, and talented, but for some reason, she turned her back on her family, and she turned instead to drug abuse and prostitution. Years later, my friend's mother confessed to her that she would always be haunted by the fact that she gave up on her child. I was reminded of this tragic story when I recently heard from a woman whose own teenage daughter had run away from home. As she described the horrific lifestyle that her child was living, I could only imagine the pain that she endured from day to day. When I wrote her back, I gave her the words I felt the Lord was speaking to my heart on her behalf. I told her, "Never give up!" I urged her to keep praying for her lost child, and to keep claiming God's promises for her deliverance and safe return. When she wrote me again, she told me that her pastor had given her the very same advice, and she took that as confirmation from the Lord.
I have my own "prodigal" experience to draw from, so it's not too difficult for me to relate to the hurting parents I hear from regularly. My oldest son's adolescent rebellion became so serious at one point that my husband and I had to ask him to leave our home. Those were the darkest days of my life. I constantly struggled with feelings of despair, anger, and resentment. And I was consumed with the injustice of it all. I remember praying over and over, "Dear Lord, please don't let me become bitter." As I cried out to God day and night, He comforted me, strengthened me, and encouraged me to stand on His promises for my son's deliverance and the healing of our family. The situation seemed so hopeless for so long that there were many times I was tempted to give up. Years later, I'm so grateful to God for giving me the grace to persist in prayer and faith for my prodigal. For if I had given up, I doubt very much that my family would be as happy, peaceful, and whole as it is today.
Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son has greatly challenged and inspired me over the years. The father in this story, who we understand to be our Heavenly Father, is done a great injustice by his younger son. Nevertheless, he maintains a posture of watching and waiting for his son's return, always ready to forgive and welcome him. When a man who used to live in my neighborhood was asked how many children he had, he would respond with, "I have three children, plus one who is dead, but not buried yet." This man had written off his rebellious son, because he could not find it in his heart to forgive him. How sad that because of this father's bitterness, his family would never be happy and whole again.
If you have a prodigal in your family, or among your loved ones, I urge you not to give up on them. There are an abundance of promises in God's Word that you can pray and claim for their deliverance. As long as you are standing in faith for them, you can rest assured that the Lord is busy behind the scenes dealing with your loved one, and working in their heart, life, and circumstances. In the meantime, with God's help, do your best to concentrate on becoming all that He created you to be. Don't let your concern for your loved one distract you from the call of God on your life. The best thing you can do for those you care about is to maintain an intensely intimate relationship with the Lord, so that your prayers will have the tremendous power that the Scriptures promise. (James 5:16 AMP) The Bible says of our God: "He is merciful and tender toward those who don't deserve it; He is slow to get angry and full of kindness and love. He never bears a grudge, nor remains angry forever." (Psalm 103:8-9 TLB) May all of us have this kind of love for our prodigals while we wait in faith for their safe return.
Prayer: Lord, if I should ever encounter a prodigal in my life, I ask You to help me to love and forgive them by Your grace and power. Teach me how to persevere in prayer for their deliverance, trusting You to do in their hearts and lives what no one else can do. Thank You that as I concentrate on living my life for You, Your ears will be attentive to my prayers--even my prayers for my prodigals!
- J. M. Farro