It’s 2024. Deconstruction is trending, and almost weekly, I talk to women whose young adult children are separated from the Lord. These moms grieve for their prodigals and feel hopeless to help.
Jesus tells a story in Luke 15 that offers hope. A fairly wealthy man has two sons. The younger one decides he’s had enough of a boring ranch life and asks his dad to give him his inheritance early. Without looking back, the young man heads off into the world, squandering everything his Father bestowed on him.
Eventually, he recognizes the mess he’s made. Humbly, he makes his way home, hoping his Father might take pity on him and hire him as a farmhand. Luke tells us that “when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion and ran to him.”
This story conveys several messages, but the overarching truth is that our Father, like the one in the story, has tremendous compassion and mercy for His children, even though our hearts are prone to wander. He watches for us when we leave Him and celebrates when we return!
This parable follows two similar parables in Luke 15. Some religious leaders mutter about the type of crowd Jesus is drawing. In response, Jesus tells three stories. First, He brings up how a man will leave the rest of his flock in order to find one sheep that has wandered off. Next, He shares about a woman who, after losing one of her ten coins, cleans her house top to bottom all night, searching for that single coin. And then He tells the story of the prodigal son. Each time the lost item is found, there is a celebration!
Here’s the fascinating thing…
The younger brother CHOSE to walk away. Enticed by worldly pleasures and his own pride, he willfully turned his back on his Father. Sheep, however, are not rebellious. They don’t walk out on the shepherd; they wander away without even realizing it. They are led astray, either by others or by their own impulses, and they are easily distracted and deceived. And coins? Well, coins don’t lose themselves—others lose them. These are people who perhaps aren’t properly valued, inadvertently get hurt by the Church, or somehow fall through the cracks.
In other words, prodigals are not all the same. There’s a reason Jesus breaks this down so clearly for us. He wants to make sure we catch it:
It doesn’t matter to Him why we’re lost; all that matters is that we are found.
What do you do if someone you care about is lost, either by chance or by choice, leaving you grieving and desperate? You pray. (See James 1:5, 5:16, and Ephesians 6:18)
This battle for our loved ones is spiritual. As Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” How do you fight spiritual battles? The same way Jesus did—with the Word (See Matthew 4).
I don’t understand how it works, but I know we release tremendous power in the spiritual realm when we pray for God’s will using His Word. It is always God’s desire for our loved ones to return to Him. The choice is still theirs, but we can be sure our Father is watching the horizon, cleaning the house, and traversing the valleys on their behalf. Therefore, we can pray confidently, knowing He desires to celebrate their homecoming even more than we do!
Here are 5 Scripture prayers to pray over your prodigal:
Lord, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news of your love to those who need it! Please send faithful messengers into _____________’s life to proclaim Your peace, the good news of the gospel, and the salvation that comes only by trusting in Christ. Make ___________ open and receptive to their friendship and the truth of Your grace. I believe we will shout for joy, as those who watch over them in prayer, when we see them return to You with our own eyes! Our God reigns! We praise You for your faithfulness in preparing the way for them to come home.
Lord, I confess that sometimes, these circumstances seem overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like this enemy is too big and _____________ is too lost for You to save. But You are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Time after time, you have done the impossible and defeated the “unbeatable” enemy. You slay the giants; You bring the strong to their knees—that’s who You are and what You do. Nothing is impossible for You! You are so faithful to remind me that those taken captive can be recovered and that which has been stolen can be taken back from the enemy. Please contend with those who contend with You and rescue Your child! Defeat the boastful deceiver who dares to challenge You so the whole world will know that You, the Lord, are _____________’s Savior, their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob!
Acts 26: 17-18
Lord, just as you blinded Saul to get his attention and then restored his sight in order to show him Your face, I pray you will do the same for ____________. Please open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light. Turn them away from the power of Satan and towards Your almighty power so they may receive forgiveness of their sins. Help them to believe in You, Jesus, and accept their place among those who are sanctified. And may their testimony, like Saul’s, draw many hearts to You.
Lord, I believe _____________ is like the good figs that ripened early, like the Remnant who believed but was led astray and then exiled. I trust that though ____________ is in a “foreign land” spiritually, Your eyes will watch over them for their good, and You will bring them back to You. Lord, when they begin to seek You, please build them up and don’t tear them down. May the seeds of truth in their heart form deep roots so they will not be uprooted. And above all, give them a heart to know You as the Lord, the One true God, their Savior. May they return to you with all their heart and once again be your people.
Lord, I bring ______________ before You. They need You, Jesus! Only You can provide what they need most. I come asking for Your intervention on their behalf. I do believe in Your power, your grace, and your faithfulness. Lord, help my unbelief! Thank you for making Your power perfect in my weakness, and nothing is impossible for you. Give me faith to trust You as I wait in expectation.
Your loved one is seen and loved by our Father. His word is eternal, and there is power in prayer. Don’t give up! Fight for your loved one and allow the Lord to draw you near in the process.