Overcoming prodigal paralysis

December 1, 2017

Luke records the well-known parable of a father and his two sons. Jesus tells the story of the younger son asking his father for his share of the estate. Without hesitation, the father divided his property between the two boys. With his pockets full of money, the younger son leaves home to live a life consumed with selfish independence (Luke 15:11-13).

In his commentary on this passage, pastor and author David Guzik describes the family drama by saying, “The father clearly illustrates God’s love. His love allowed rebellion and in some sense respected human will. The father knew that the son made a foolish and greedy request, yet allowed him to go his course nonetheless.”

Unfortunately, far too many families are experiencing this parable firsthand in their own homes. Countless Christian parents suffer with emotions ranging from hurt and confusion to disbelief and shame. Thankfully, helpless, hopeless and disgrace are not words our Heavenly Father uses when it comes to prodigals. Here are a few thoughts to consider.

God understands prodigals
The Lord has had experience with prodigals for thousands of years. Prodigals like Adam and Eve, King David, the entire nation of Israel, and a host of others head up a long list. However, the prodigal lifestyle is no match for God’s grace. A prodigal has never stopped Him from loving and waiting on those who truly belong to Him. We can rest assured that the Lord cares deeply for every prodigal.

Practice tough love
Sometimes the prodigal lifestyle is messy. You may have to practice tough love and let your child sleep in the bed they have made. When their lifestyle has produced less than ideal fruit, you have to allow them to struggle or perhaps suffer the consequences of their choices. Their suffering may be what awakens them and brings them to their senses (Luke 15:17).

Leave the door open
The Bible is clear when it comes to our relationship with others. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18, NIV). Let your prodigal know that although you will not compromise your biblical beliefs or enable their lifestyle, your door is always open to them (Luke 15:20).

Be transparent
Do not allow Satan to deceive you into thinking that you are the only family dealing with a prodigal child. You are not alone! In your church, there are most likely several families agonizing over a similar situation. Therefore, share with fellow believers, trusted friends, extended family and church staff what is happening with your child. The Lord never wants us to live in isolation. You need the encouragement, wisdom and prayer of others.

With the increasing darkness overshadowing our world, many parents feel hopeless. They desperately want to know the answer to this most pressing question but are almost afraid to ask: “Is there any hope for my prodigal?”

Even in our growing anti-Christian culture, I will be the first to answer with a resounding, “Yes! There is hope!”

As long as the Godhead is in place, there is always hope for a prodigal and their family.


by Mark Smith  
/  Family Evangelism and Discipleship  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

How families can adopt a family discipleship plan

Many parents have made 2021 the year of discipleship for their family. They have taken the challenge and implemented the “Family Discipleship Plan” in their homes. Moms and dads have made this a priority because they know they have been given the wonderful privilege of being the...

Why leading your child to Christ is a process, not just a prayer

I remember praying a prayer at age 5. As a Cubby in the Awana program at our church, I was slightly intimidated by the leader who took me into the darkened chapel and asked me if I wanted to go to heaven to be with Jesus. I didn’t know what that meant. I may have asked a few...

3 steps to being missional in your community

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with heightened racial and political tensions, have sparked massive conflicts throughout our state and nation in the last year and a half. However, in the midst of the chaos, families have a unique opportunity to be missional in their homes and...

3 common objections to family discipleship

In Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses commands parents to “impress” God’s Word into the lives of their children. Then, he gives instructions on how to actually make that happen within the rhythms of each day. He says, “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,...

‘Reimagine’ resource addresses today’s realities, tomorrow’s possibilities

How does your church see this COVID moment? On a recent webcast by the Barna Group titled “Caring for Souls in a New Reality,” panelists posed the question, “Is this an interruption or a disruption?” An interruption means that this is only a temporary interference in our lives,...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news and information by signing up for our N.C. Baptist newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!