Praying for your Prodigal
Based on a teaching by Pastor Ruth Rousu
Harvest Vineyard Christian Fellowship
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants,‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
What Is A Prodigal?
A prodigal is a Covenant son or daughter. They are someone who has already accepted the Lord as Saviour, and for whatever reason walked away. There is a myriad of reasons, but two of the most common reasons are:
1. They were wounded by the body of Christ through abuse, neglect or improper church discipline. Children of pastors and elders and notorious for becoming prodigals because they often see things that go on behind the scenes of the church. This insider view of church life often leads to disillusionment and resentment, especially if their parents were wounded by the church they served.
2. They were not firmly grounded in the Word when they first accepted the Lord. Perhaps a lack of discipleship, mentoring and nurture by the local body resulted in their slipping through the cracks. However, there are times that a new believer rebels against some of the hard truths required of all Christians: forgiving others, accepting personal responsibility for their actions, self-discipline, etc.
Strategies for Prayer
Although I will be referring to the prodigal as a ‘he’ in the following teaching, the following guidelines apply to any prodigal child of our Heavenly Father, no matter what their age or gender may be.
Approach the Father
Approach the Father in the positional place of covenant that the prodigal has with Him.
Remind the Lord that the prodigal is one of His children. They are one of His covenant kids, and He is the Father of the Lost. Ask the Lord to rescue the prodigal in the same way that a shepherd rescues a lamb that strays from the flock. Although the prodigal might give up on the Father, the Father never abandons his child!
Pray for yourself
Ask that you receive supernatural, agape love for your prodigal. Pray for a love that would be open and warm toward the prodigals despite their sinful actions and attitudes. Although agape love does not condone their actions, God’s perfect love allows you to love them without harsh judgment and bitterness.
Pray for the grace needed to let go of the prodigal
The prodigal’s father gave the son his inheritance and allowed him to leave. He didn’t lay a religious guilt trip on His son nor did He bash the boy with Bible verses. Although it broke his heart, He let his son go.
Pray for the parents and loved ones of prodigals. Ask the Lord for gifts of trust. Give your prodigals to the Lord and ask for the grace to truly let go. Pray for supernatural love, so you don’t lay judgments on the prodigals. Ask the Lord to remind you to keep your mouth shut when you are tempted to preach at your prodigal rather than dialogue with your prodigal. Be willing to answer the hard questions asked by the prodigal, even if your answer is a truthful, “I don’t know.” Ask the Lord to keep your heart open, and that your heart stays full of love and compassion. Ask for the grace to resist speaking from a heart attitude of judgment and discouragement.
Pray for grace and endurance to pray for the prodigals
It can take years to see the fruit born from fervent, consistent intercession for the prodigals. Pray for courage to stay in a place of trust that God’s promises will not fail when circumstances scream the opposite. Pray with faith-filled foresight that the prodigal WILL one day return. Begin to pray now for the provision of all the prodigal will need upon his return.
Pray for famine.
Pray that whatever fountain they have placed their trust upon that is not healthy or godly will dry up. This wrongful trust could be directed toward their intellect or ability to manipulate others. They could be placing all their hopes on an infatuation. They could be relying on the advice given by poor companions or a false messiah. They could be placing their self-esteem upon a successful career, money, prestige, and worldly success.
Pray for disillusionment towards those things that initially drew them away from their heavenly Father; those things that now hold them in an invisible prison of addiction. Pray that what once brought them pleasure would become as stale and tasteless as a dry crust of bread. Pray that as the novelty wears off, they would see beyond the artificial façade the enemy created to entice them away. Pray that ‘fair weather’ friends would disappear.
Pray for a holy hunger or holy homesickness
“Oh, I remember what it was like to be in fellowship with God, the sweetness of our relationship. I remember how clean and pure I felt as I allowed Him to draw near to my heart. ” Pray that they would crave the intimacy of the relationship they once had with the Father. The briefest caress of the Father’s hand burns a remembrance deep into the heart of anyone. Contrary to their protest, a person never forgets an encounter with God.
Pray that the prodigal would come to himself
Pray that he would realize something is wrong in his world that he is powerless to fix on his own.
Pray that his eyes would be open to the truth of his situation, and pray against the delusion of self-empowerment that the enemy would try to bring him.”If I just try harder, if I just make more money, if I just read this book…” A miraculous, God-given gift of self-awareness must work in his heart. Human reasoning and sound argument might reach his intellect but without the help of the Holy Spirit, will not reach his heart.
Pray for gifts of true repentance
“I will arise and go to my Father.” Repentance is a gift, and it brings life and freedom. Repentance is breakthrough and deliverance. The biblical definition of repentance goes deeper than just feeling ‘sad’ about the result of your sins. Repentance means a change of mind and a change of direction – toward the Father. Pray for the gift of humility and transparency.
Pray that the prodigal will have the ability to receive the grace of God
Pray that the prodigal would be able to receive the Father’s love and forgiveness. Some prodigals lived very immoral lives, and they can’t imagine the Father ever wanting them back. They feel they have crossed a line and they’ve gone too far. They fear they are beyond the Lord’s ability to redeem. They are afraid of His rejection if they do turn back. In the story of the prodigal son, the prodigal had carefully rehearsed his ‘Let me come home, I will work as a slave’ speech over and over again in his head. His inner belief system gave him little hope that his father would ever want to be in a heart-to-heart, father-to-son relationship with him again.
Pray that our Father would pour out His riches when the prodigal returns
Ask the Lord to overwhelm His returning child with every blessing from heaven above. Ask the Lord to lavish His love on his once-lost child. Pray for ridiculously extravagant blessings in all areas of his life: body, soul, and spirit. Pray for so much prosperity and fruitfulness in his life that it would be impossible for him to say anything but “The Lord is my helper, my Redeemer, in Him shall I trust.” Pray against self-loathing and self-rejection that would keep him from the Father’s embrace. The father did not expect his returning son to clean himself up before he embraced him. No, this Papa hugged his son, funky clothes, poor hygiene and all. It was only after that embrace that the father replaced his son’s filthy rags with the robes and emblems of familial identification and authority. “This is my son, he wears the ring of the family, he wears the robes of our clan, he is clearly one of my own.”
Pray for the elder son (The church community)
Long before the prodigals come home, the church MUST have a change of heart if we are to embrace the prodigals unconditionally upon their return. Pray that the Elder son will truly rejoice in the blessings being lavished upon their brother. Pray the Elder brother celebrates along with their brother as he experiences the uninterrupted communion with God and the sweet joy of fellowship with other believers.
Thankful hearts don’t have room for jealousy. Pray that when the prodigals come home, judgmental attitudes in the church body would not be present. Pray against jealousy and envy when God’s blessing pours out on the prodigal. Pray that when the prodigals are blessed that the Elder brother would become excited, knowing a blessing is coming their way as well. Pray that the younger brother’s joy would rub off on the Elder brother and that they too would be rejuvenated in their relationship with Father God. God does not show partiality. If blessings pour out the prodigal, they will pour out on the other children too, but only if they are receptive.
Pray for the newly restored children of God
Pray that they would lead many of their lost friends into the Kingdom and pray for open arms in the body of Christ to embrace these newborns into their midst.
Pray for those raised in the church
Pray that the local body would extend grace toward those whose mannerisms, clothing, and behavior are foreign to their church culture. Pray that the church would have the supernatural grace, love, patience, consistency, and openness needed to walk beside the returned prodigals as they journey toward emotional, spiritual and physical wholeness.
All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
©1997, 2016 Katherine Walden
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