Praying for Our Prodigals



 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)

With the recent tragedy in Orlando, where so many young people were massacred, and so many families are grieving an early loss, we pause to think of the safety of our own children.  They may experience tragedies too—no one is immune—and added to the emotional, mental, and physical tragedies that can strike a child, Christians also fear spiritual tragedy: our child’s rejection of Christ.

Worries for Prodigals

Sometimes, children do not turn out as planned—children in whom parents have spent so much time in developing their spiritual disciplines. Perhaps we, like Job, have worried over our children and have committed to taking them before God on a continual basis, only to have our dreams for them dashed (Job 4:1-5).  And, we grieve and, perhaps, no longer know how to pray for them.

The scenarios are different for each of us. We may have an atheist child or an agnostic child. We may have a child who has embraced a different lifestyle, a child with an addiction, a child shackled deep in debt. And we worry that thorn in our flesh, but it doesn’t come out and we feel helpless.  The Apostle Paul also had a worrying thorn, something that moved him to raise his voice in prayer for God to remove it (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), to return things to “normal.”  Three times Paul went to the Lord in prayer. But, God had a new “normal” for Paul.  Three times may seem like nothing in comparison to our prayers that have stretched out days, weeks, even years. We may no longer be living in the same town as our loved ones and don’t know, apart from salvation, how to specifically pray for them.  So, we find ourselves praying the same prayers day in and day out.  We need a prayer reboot!

Praying for Our Prodigals

God gives certain parents, certain children to love, to care, and to pray for, and He has not left us without recourse when things head south: bold prayer. God has given us a clear blueprint to direct us in boldly praying for our children: The Book of Psalms. If you have a prodigal child, you have the opportunity to learn about the power of prayer. Recently, I tried a different way of praying for my loved ones. In a prayer seminar at church, I was challenged to pray scripture over my family, but didn’t know where to start.

While reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I learned that he believed in the importance of praying through the Psalms. So, I decided to follow suit in praying for my loved ones. I started a prayer journal and put a different person’s name on each page. Then I began with Psalm 1. As a promise, life truth, or application presented itself in the Psalms, I wrote that as a prayer for the next person in my journal. Each day, my prayer for each person was different, was based on scripture, and I felt confident that God knew just how to work those scripture prayers into the lives of my loved ones. Then, I came to Psalm 13:1-4.  These verses fell on the journal page of someone for whom I had been praying salvation prayers for ten years.  I put my loved one’s name in place of the personal pronouns “me,” “I” and “my” and for the first time, the boldness of the Psalms hit my heart.  It was a bold prayer, and it was awesome!

Hebrews 4:16 tells us we can approach the throne of God’s grace with confidence and with boldness—because our great high priest has gone before us and can sympathize with our weakness, all for the effect of giving us mercy and grace to help in times of need. He leads us to come boldly to God with our requests and the Psalms show us how to do that. King David was bold!

As we pray for our prodigals, we soon realize God does not work on our timeline, and it’s all for a purpose.  He wants us to learn that our children are not sufficient for us, but “[His] grace is sufficient” for us in our fear and questioning because “[His] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We theoretically understand that His grace is sufficient, but we must experience his grace at work in our lives as we focus on Him in prayer about the situation.

May we all come to the place where we are no longer discouraged by our powerlessness. We are powerless in and of ourselves, yet, in our weakness, as we posture in prayer before God, we come to know that His grace is sufficient and we come to know the power of prayer as He works out His perfect will for our children.

imagePatricia Curtiss (M.Ed.) attends St. Petersburg Presbyterian Church in Florida with her husband, Steve, where she has served as SundaySchool teacher/Women’s Council chairman/praise team singer/nursery worker. She is taking a sabbatical from a high school English teaching career to nanny her twin grand-nieces and to practice the discipline of devotional writing. Patricia and Steve have 4 sons and are expecting their first grand-child in September!