Pray for healing. Ask God often to heal the wounded places in your loved one’s soul and life. Trust God to draw your loved one to Himself at the right time and in the right ways.

Support others with prodigals. Repent of any ways you’ve judged other people who have prodigals in their lives. Do all you can to support each other, whether you’re sharing sorrow or celebrating progress.

 Forgive. It’s vital that you choose to forgive your wayward loved one, even when he or she is still hurting you. You must forgive in order to heal your relationship and cooperate with God’s work in the situation. Trust God to help you as you forgive. Do whatever He calls you to do to extend that forgiveness: write a letter, make a phone call, visit, apologize, etc.

Work for unity in your church. The arguments among Christians that occur in some churches make it easier for people to leave the faith and harder for them to return. Lay aside the petty disagreements between you and other people in your church, and show your prodigal that the love Christ calls you all to have for each other is real.

If and when your loved one returns to faith, be patient. Don’t expect your loved one to have everything sorted out with his or her faith immediately. Be honest and real with each other as your loved one gradually builds a closer relationship with Christ and with you.

Place your prodigal at the foot of the cross. Every day, commit your loved one to Christ by imagining him or her at the foot of the cross and telling Christ you trust Him to take care of him or her. Never stop praying for your prodigal!

Adapted from Bringing Home the Prodigals, copyright 2007 by Rob Parsons. Published by Authentic Books, a division of STL US, Colorado Springs, Co.,  

Rob Parsons is the executive chairman of Care for the Family in the United Kingdom. He is a best-selling author of 10 books and has spoken to more than half a million people in live seminars around the world. He and his wife, Dianne, have two children.