Praying for prodigals
Prayer is most effective when we are connected to the heart of the Father. Carry what is on His heart is intercession. God longs for the return of His sons and daughters. Prodigals are on the heart of the Father.
One of my favorite parables in the Bible is found in Luke 15. It is titled, “The Prodigal Son” but the parable has more to do with the character of the loving father than the prodigal son. What we see is the heart of the Father and how He interacts with His sons and daughters.
This parable gives us a few prayer points for the prodigals in our lives. You may have a spouse, child(ren), parent(s), friend(s), or relative(s) who have walked away from God or in a season of struggling with their faith. How can we pray for the prodigals from this parable?
Here is the recap of the parable: Once upon a time there was a son and his dad. Now one day the son got to thinking: Maybe if I didn’t have my dad around telling me what is good for me all the time I’d be happier. He’s spoiling my fun. He thought, does my dad really want me to be happy? Does he even love me? The son had never thought that before, but suddenly he didn’t know anymore.
So the son went to his father and said, “Dad I’m better off without you. I can take care of myself. Just give me my share of your money you’ve been saving for me.” His father was sad but he wouldn’t force his son to stay. So he gave his son what he wanted. The son took the money and his stuff and went on a long, long journey to a country far, far away.
Everything was wonderful and perfect~ for a while. He could go anywhere he wanted and do whatever he wanted and be whoever he wanted to be. He was the boss! He was “free”! No one was telling him what to do. But soon all his money ran out and so did his friends. They were only friends because he had a lot of money and could buy a lot of stuff and once that was gone, they were gone too.
The son had to get a job and the only job he could get was feeding pigs. One day he was so hungry and so desperate that he even tried to eat some of the food he was feeding the pigs. “What am I doing?” he said out loud to himself. It was as if he woke up from a nightmare! When he came to his senses, he said, “My father is rich and here I am, in a pig sty, eating pig food!” He dusted himself off and said, “I am going home”.
As he started for home, he began to worry. He thought, Dad won’t love me anymore. I’ve been so bad. He won’t want me as his son anymore. But he thought “Even my dad’s servants are well taken care of. I will ask him if I can be one of them.” As he walked home from the country far, far away, he was so sorry. He thought about ways he would ask for forgiveness from his father. He didn’t feel worthy to be his father’s son anymore.
All this time, what the son didn’t know is that, day after day, his dad had been standing on his porch, straining his eyes, looking into the distance, waiting for his son to come home. He just couldn’t stop loving him. He longed for the sound of his son’s voice! He couldn’t be happy until he got him back!
The son was still a long way off, but his dad saw him coming! The dad leaped off the porch and raced to the son. Before his son could even begin to say, “I’m sorry”, his dad ran to him, threw his arms around him and couldn’t stop kissing him! “Let’s have a party!” his dad shouted! “My son is home! He ran away. I lost him, but now I have him back!”
Jesus told his followers, “God is like the dad who couldn’t stop loving his son. And people are like the son who said, “Does my dad really want me to be happy? Does He really love me?” Jesus told this story to show His followers what God is like.
As you pray for prodigals in your life, here are three things to pray from this parable in Luke 15:
1. Pray that like the son, when the prodigals experience famine, they would remember “home” (relationship with the Father). The pleasures of sin are fleeting. Sin doesn’t follow through on what it promises. The longing in their heart will never be satisfied. The world only gives famine. It cannot satisfy the longing deep in the core of who we are. “Home” is where the prodigals find fulfillment for what they are craving.
2. Pray that they would come to themselves (to their senses). Verse 17 says, “when he came to his senses…” Pray that the seeds planted in their lives would produce fruit. Isaiah 55:11 says, “…so is my Word that goes out from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”. God will complete the assignment. His Words will accomplish all that it was sent to do.
Pray any prophetic words over the prodigals. What has God spoken over their lives? Pray Scripture over their lives. Pray the Word of the Lord over the prodigals. Ask God, “What do you say over them?” Let the Word be your weapon. Keep your focus on what God has spoken, not the choices or circumstances your prodigal is in currently. Keep looking for their return. Are there promises from Scripture that you can pray and hold tightly too as you wait for the prodigals return.
Pray they would have the thought, “How did I get here?” The prodigal son from Luke 15 had the revelation of the foolishness of his choices.
3. Ask God what part you play in bringing them to repentance. God’s kindness and goodness leads to repentance. God is planning and strategizing. He will chase them down with His goodness and kindness. What’s your role? What’s your part to overwhelm them with goodness and kindness?
God has a reckless love for the prodigals. Declare the Truth of God’s Word over the prodigal(s) in your life. Pray these words from Cory Asbury’s song, “Reckless Love”:
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
There’s no mountain You won’t climb up
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
There’s no lie You won’t tear down
Climb up mountains!
Kick down walls!
Tear down lies!
Don't give up! Stay connected to the Father and what He says about the prodigals in your life. Your prayers are making a difference even if you don't see anything changing in the natural. Breakthrough is coming. The prodigals are returning home where they belong.
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