There's been a book that has been a comfort to me in my walk with the Lord as I parent a prodigal by Ruth Bell Graham called Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement For Those Who Wait. Waiting on a prodigal is hard, and this isn't a how-to book but a book of prayers and promises and meditations in the Word for troubled hearts.
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'We mothers must take care of the possible and trust God for the impossible.'
EP 23: Seasons of Waiting
One section of the book that was a comfort to me and my hope is it will be to you too – whether you have a prodigal or not was the section titled: The Possible and the Impossible.
Ruth Bell Graham writes:
“We mothers must take care of the possible and trust God for the impossible. We are to love, affirm, encourage, teach, listen, and care for the physical needs of the family.
We cannot convict of sin, create hunger, and thirst after God or convert. These are miracles, and miracles are not in our department.”
She then gives us two columns of our part and God's part:
My Part (the possible):
To pray intelligently, logically, urgently, without ceasing in faith.
To enjoy being a mother.
Provide a warm, happy home.
Minister to their physical and emotional needs as I am able.
God's Part (the impossible):
Conviction of Sin
Creating a hunger and thirst for righteousness
Bringing to the place of total commitment
Showing ourselves as we really are (without ever discouraging us!)
Continually filling us with His Holy Spirit for our sanctification and His service
(Above taken from Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait)
Loving Your Prodigal
This is a hard season and at times, can be challenging to give thanks to the Lord in and through it. I can attest this season has strengthened my faith and caused me to dwell deeply in His Word and in prayer for my prodigal and other lost family and friends too.
It has given me compassion towards others who are dealing with difficult situations and cause me to repent of areas of my life when I found myself judging others, not understanding what it was like to walk in their shoes.
Your child or spouse is without Christ, so we can't expect them to act or behave like a Christian. What they need most from you is the love and care of Christ shown to them. We can so easily do this to the lost around us that are not in our family, so how much more should we love those well that are lost within our own families. Speak the truth when you can, and when it fits the situation or conversation – don't force Christ upon them. Your life is a light for Christ (Matt 5:14). Your child has most likely grown up around the truth of the Gospel and knows it well. It does not have to be part of every conversation with them.
If you have a friend with a prodigal child, love them well, ask about their child, ask how they are doing, and continue to pray for them. If you have a relationship with their prodigal reach out to them because not many Christian people will be and trust me, they are continually praying for those who know and love Christ to influence their child's life.
If you have a prodigal child, you are not to blame – read the reminder above of doing the possible while trusting God with the impossible. God is the author of salvation. It would be just as wrong for me to take credit for a child in the faith as if I did something to cause that as to take the blame for a child outside the faith. When we do this, we are living by a mentality of works righteousness. You did nothing to contribute to your salvation, and you can do nothing to contribute to the salvation of another person.
I'd love to share with you some resources that have been a help to me in this season the Lord has me in. I pray you will rest in His perfect peace and find comfort in our God who is sovereign and working all things together for good and His glory. May you find your hope in Him alone.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
~ Matthew 19:26
A Mother's Heart on Praying for Her Prodigal @Revive Our Hearts
Pray Them Home: Three Prayers for Prodigal Children @Desiring God
12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child @Focus on the Family
Parenting Teenagers in Grace University @HeadHeartHand Blog
What Should We Do When They Stray? @Feeding On Christ
Come Back Barbara by Jack Miller
Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Child by James Banks
Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait by Ruth Bell Graham
Letting Go: Rugged Love for Wayward Souls by Dave Harvey & Paul Gilbert
Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams are Delayed by Betsy Childs Howard
Trusting God with Our Children with Nancy Guthrie – @Risen Motherhood
God in Your Most Desperate Situation @Revive Our Hearts
Hope + Help for Hurting Parents by Brad Bigney
Out of a Far Country @Revive Our Hearts
Gospel-Centered Parenting @Family Life Today with Todd Friel
“In every situation in our lives, God is always doing a thousand different things that we cannot see and we do not know.”
~ John Piper
An encouraging prayer below is taken from Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God: A Broken Mother's Seach for Hope by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan
(A great read for all with prodigals. Angela's prayer life for her son was so encouraging.)
“I will stand in the gap for my child. I will stand until the victory is won until their heart changes. I will stand in the gap every day and there I will fervently pray. And Lord just one favor: don't let me waver. If things get rough, which they have, I will never give up on my child nor will you. I will not quit though it may take years. I give you my fears and my tears as I trust every moment to you.”
Lord – please give us the grace to place our children and ourselves in Your hand moment by moment.