Praying for a Prodigal
20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to celebrate. —Luke 15:20-24
Are you the parent of a prodigal? If you’re not, most likely you know someone who is.
Many of these parents feel alone or lost. Many wonder if they are the only ones carrying this pain. And it is real pain. The ache for these dear ones is like no other. The prodigal may hurt them and disappoint them, and yet they cannot stop loving their prodigal.The not knowing. The empty chair at the table. The wishing that things were different. Countless of these have felt the sting of judgment as they come to church looking for love, support, and help, only to get a sideway glance or a discouraging comment on their parenting skills.
Recently, we gathered together a group of parents with prodigals to pray and connect with others who understand. As I heard them pray I was struck with the undeniable feeling that a parent of a prodigal might grasp prayer better than anyone I have ever prayed with. Not because they are great orators. Not because they have a gift of prophesy that enables them to see what the future holds for their son or daughter. Not because they are theological giants. They are champions of prayer because they cry out to God from a heart that is broken. And they connect with God, the Father of prodigals, in a very deep and genuine manner.
The night was filled with tears of those calling out as they brought their prodigals to the cross of Christ. Groups of parents knelt at the cross, where the mingling of their own utter helplessness and God's total power to intervene was heard in honest and heartfelt prayers. Together they placed their prodigals in the hands of our all-loving and all-powerful Heavenly Father and clung to the very real hope that God, as a prodigal parent, understands and is in control.
We are all prodigals. We are all estranged from God. Without Christ, we are separated from His love and from an eternal life with Him. And He waits, and draws us by His Spirit, and His Son prays that we would come home. And sometimes, we do. And there’s a celebration every time!
When we had finished praying and crying together, many expressed that they had no idea that so many others were struggling with in the same way. Many had never felt this kind of support before, and never been a part of such a powerful night of touching the heart of God. We cried out for our loved ones as Christ cries out for us.
It’s so good to be home—and to meet at the cross. —Kaj Ballantyne
· Do I think of myself as a prodigal who has only been brought home by the grace of God?
· How does that impact the way I interact and pray for prodigals who are still wandering?
Heavenly Father, the only reason I have found my way to You is because You have drawn me. Thank You for Your loving pursuit. I lift up every prodigal I know and ask You to do what You love to do; save them. I lift up every parent of those prodigals. Give them peace and hope as they wait for Your perfect timing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.