Praying for the Prodigal

There’ no doubt, as a believer, you have at least one unsaved loved one you are praying will come to Christ.  I’ve been listening and watching believers over the years pray for their loved ones. I also have unsaved family members I am praying will come to the Lord; however, I will admit I pray a little different than what one normally hears. Bear with me while I explain.

Most of the time we hear believers pray for their loved ones to be protected, cared for, and blessed. I have heard some pray for their prodigal to be relieved from troubles and “gotten out” of the negative consequences of their bad decisions. I have watched as mothers go to pieces when their sons are facing jail time for their crimes of stupidity. I even watched one mother break down in tears because she actually lied in effort to keep her (adult) kid out of trouble. It didn’t work, of course, and she had to repent for sinning against God. I am now convinced that (when it comes to unsaved loved ones) many believers tend not to pray correctly for them.

The other day the parable of the prodigal son came to mind (Luke 15:11-32). There are a number of ways we look at this story and various points we pull out. Something I thought about though was that the prodigal son’s parents did not run after him.  I am sure as a parent they were concerned for him, but they did not go and get him or in any way try to keep him from the penalties of his foolish decisions. Eventually this son crumbled under the weight of the consequences of his choices; he came to his senses and went home to his father with a repentant heart. Could his parents have hindered his ability to come to his senses by gumming up the works with their misdirected efforts? You betcha!

One of the lessons from this story for Christian parents is to avoid letting their love for their kids overcome what’s best for them. The parents of the prodigal loved him enough to let him find out exactly what the world would do for him, to let him deal with the consequences of his choices. Sadly many parents find this hard to do.

I have seen parents, in their effort to “help,” let their sinful sons return home full of worldly ways, venom and disrespect. The parents’ pusillanimity, though loving, caused them to welcome the devilish in, giving them free rein to disrupt the peace and sanctity of their home. These parents failed to realize that this type of thing did not, does not, and will not help their wayward children. Sometimes parents have to let the consequences of their adult children’s decision do their work in order to bring about the change they are praying for. When they don’t they are actually hindering God.


So, watching stuff like this amid believers praying for wayward loved ones caused me to change the way I pray for unsaved loved ones, not just of my family but for those of the saints as well.

Here is a prayer for one of my brothers from a past prayer journal. I’m not including his name.

Sometimes when someone hears me explain how I pray for the unsaved they say it’s too harsh. I beg to differ, and I will tell you why.

*Our unsaved loved ones are facing an eternity without God, an eternity worse than any earthly struggle or torment we can conjure up.  We do not have time for non-specific, mamby pamby prayers of earthly goodwill on their behalf. Times are too dire for that because they are literally dangling above the jaws of eternal damnation.

*If our unsaved loved ones have everything “perfect” why would they turn to God? 

*Our unsaved loved ones need to know and feel the consequences of rejecting Almighty God. They need to come to the end of themselves, to a point where there’s no one else but God and them.

*Our unsaved loved ones need clarity; they need the blinders removed – in the Words of Bishop C. H. Mason, they need the devil cast out of their minds. They need to be able to see and understanding the eternal consequences of their choices.

*Our unsaved loved ones need to realize there is no true pleasure, peace, joy, happiness, or success apart from God. They are not going to come to that realization if they keep getting what they’ve come to expect – the false substitute given to them by the world.

So it behooves every believer to pray for the unsaved of this world, the right way. I do understand the conflict in heart over this. We don’t want to see our loved ones hurt, we don’t want to see them in a bad way…but neither do we want them roasting in hell for eternity! Therefore, whatever hardship, whatever pressure they must endure in order to wake up then so be it.

When you think about your prodigals…pray. When you see your prodigals…pray. Do your talking in prayer. Click To Tweet

Do your witnessing through your lifestyle, unless the Holy Spirit specifically gives you something to say to them. Stand up for what is right and do not back down. Stop looking at them as, “oh my baby,” and see them for who they are – a soul facing horrific eternal punishment/torment. Our time is short, and we must employ specific strategy regarding those who are blinded by the enemy of all our souls. The methods, understanding, and efforts from our natural viewpoint are not going to cut it.

I have some relatives who have heads like unshelled macadamia nuts. I began praying this way for them back around 2004. One of them finally got his shell cracked and came to Christ in 2010. When he found out the kind of prayers I sent up for him he got the most shocked look on his face. He then told me that everything I prayed happened to him. He eventually grew tired of his own way and gave up. If I had been praying that everything worked out for him, if he had all of his needs met, if he got every job he applied for, was always bailed out of trouble etc…his outcome could have been very different; as a matter of fact, he could still be out there! I am praying the same for the other stragglers of our family, asking God to completely reel them in. I know that He is going to save them as well; in His timing of course.

I hope I have offered you some food for thought this week as you pray for your unsaved loved ones and those of the saints around the world.

Until next time,

6 thoughts on “Praying for the Prodigal

  1. What a great post on praying for the prodigal! I like the way you brought to light that sometimes, loving means letting people learn lessons. Prayer is so important!

    1. Hello Cecily,
      Yes. I am learning that prayer is more important that we actually realize. Thanks for reading and commenting on the post. I am glad you found it useful.
      God bless you!

  2. We’re living this right now with a dear family member. We call them “Dirty Harry” prayers.
    Hell is real and the crushing is necessary in many situations.
    Thank you Juanita for speaking truth !!

    1. Hello Tim,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the post. “Dirty Harry prayers;” I like that! You are right though. Sometimes crushing is indeed necessary because there is literally a horrific hell to be avoided.
      God bless you!

  3. Lisa A MCINTYRE

    Love this article and it is so true many parents, uphold their children in wrong doing, but like you said it only hurts them in the end. Pray a prayer for them to come to their senses and repent and turn to life for Christ.,

    1. Hello Lisa,
      Thanks for taking time to read and comment on the post. I am glad you found it benefical 🙂
      God bless you!

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