"Please help me, I have a prodigal child and I am not sure what to do. I want to get mad and just give up but I know that is not the answer. I feel at a loss. This child was raised their whole life in a Christian home as a Christian, but now is doing everything they know that they shouldn't do. It breaks our hearts."
It is not easy when a child rejects God and it can definitely be heartbreaking for their parents, family, friends, and all who are involved.
The saddest part is seeing them destroy themselves, all the while their parents feeling helpless on the sidelines, but we must remember that there is always hope in Christ.
We know the story of the Prodigal Son in scripture and we need to apply many of the principles that we see in it.
Here are a few helpful guidelines:
1. FORGIVE THEM.
As hard as it is you must remember that anything they have done is not unforgivable by Christ. If Christ can forgive them then you must too. It can be easy to become bitter and angry but you need to remember that the end goal is that they be reconciled to God.
2. LOVE THEM.
It is hard to love someone when they are being unloveable but just think of how God loved us through our worst moments. Loving someone can bring reconciliation to God and that is the ultimate goal. Always keep a line open of communication where they can come back to you if they need to especially if they are repentant.
Like the heart of the father with his prodigal son:
“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."
3. PRAY FOR THEM.
Never give up and always pray for them. We cannot see what is going on in the spiritual realm and the battle that is being fought there. So we must always pray and hope for what God is doing in these circumstances. Pray that their eyes would be opened, that their heart would be unhardened and turn to God, and that God would convict them to the point of repentance. Pray also for yourself and your spouse to have strength and turn to God and His wisdom daily and not to react or respond sinfully in your own flesh.
4. TRUST GOD.
It is easy to be angry, fearful, anxious, and even embarrassed about your prodigal child but you need to remember to keep God in the forefront of all things and trust Him. You might not know why you child is making so many bad decisions but you do know that you can trust God. He is in control of all things and though we might not know what He is doing through hard times, we know He is sovereign and we can find peace and rest in that.
He is perhaps also teaching you valuable lessons at this time as well. Such as the lessons of patience, self-control, perseverance, or humility. Thank Him for all that He is doing even when you don't understand. He is not done writing the story of your child's life or yours and only He knows the outcome. He can be trusted-- and we bring Him glory as we entrust our children and our hardships to Him.
5. GET SUPPORT.
It is so important to grow closer to your spouse right now and help support each other through this difficult time. You might even need further guidance as a couple as many do, so don't be afraid to get some help and support from your pastor or a trusted Christian counselor.
Also, don't be afraid of friends or people from your church who might judge you. Just look for the help that you and your family need at this time. Your family is way more important than what others think. Your true friends will still be there for you--and you might even be surprised by the support you receive, especially by those who who have been down that road.
Finally, remember that you are not alone. There are many parents who have gone through the same thing if not worse. Did you know that Billy and Ruth Graham went through it as well with two of their children? If it can happen to one of the world's greatest preachers like Billy Graham, it can happen to you. No one is immune to their children making bad choices. His wife, Ruth, also wrote a a book on prodigals that I am sharing below in case you would like to hear a bit of her story and be encouraged by her.
Here are a few extra resources that might be of help to you.
Pray them Home: Prayers for the Prodigal Child
Loving the Prodigal Child
12 Suggestions for Loving a Prodigal Child
Loving Your Prodigal
When Adult Children Reject the Faith
Will You Fight for Your Home?
Satan, You Cant Have My Family
This is War - The Battle For Our Children's Souls
Bringing Home the Prodigals
Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Word of Encouragement for Those Who Wait - by Ruth Graham
Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Child by James Banks
Praying for the Prodigal by Andrea Merrell
A PRAYER FOR YOU:
Dear Lord, being the parent of a prodigal child can be so hard and difficult. Please give these parents a double portion of Your wisdom and strength. Please comfort them when they are hurting and draw them closer to you. Give them perseverance so that they do not give up easily. Help them to love when they feel they don't have any more love to give. And give them hope when they feel hopeless. Please remind them of all the goodness they have in You and to not grow weary but to put their trust in You. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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