what the prodigal’s father did right

Colette @ awriteheart.comI got on my knees in front of her.  I had never in my life seen such grief.  I prayed outloud what she could not.  She couldn’t form the words because her heart was broken.  I entered in to another woman’s sorrow that day and we prayed in unison of heart for her son.

The Bible says (3 John 1:4) that there is no greater joy than to hear that your children walk in truth.  Which means, there is no greater heartache when they do not.  I have cried, prayed and counseled with many Christian parents whose older children have become prodigals; who wastefully or extravagantly live in sin.  Heartbroken and confused parents who begged God for years to keep their precious children from sin; parents who dedicated their little ones to God and His service.  In Luke 15:11-32 we see where the father of the prodigal son did many things right and parents can learn so much from him.

He didn’t withhold anything from his son.

Luke 15:12 He didn’t say things like “if you live like this you are out of the will!” Instead, he treated him as his child whether or not his son was in sin or whether he was living right. When his son decided to leave, his father did not demand that he return the inherited money.  The father gave him his inheritance, he gave him his time, and he gave him his love.

He didn’t disown him.

He never said “if you choose to live like this you are not my son!” Instead, the door to his home and to relationship stayed open.

He welcomed him with open arms.

Luke 15:20 He never said “You are only welcome back when you clean yourself up”. Instead, he welcomed him before he knew that his son was out of sin and home to stay. He saw him from afar and he rejoiced that his son was coming home.  The Bible says that when he saw his son coming home, he ran to him!  This shows such love on this fathers part. He was just happy to be with his son and that his son was home.  The Bible says that the father rejoiced and killed the fatted calf and had a party for his sons return “because he hath received him safe and sound”.  I can almost feel his relief through the pages of the story.

He waited.

He didn’t plan and figure out how and when he was going to preach truth to his son. Instead, he waited for God to work in his sons’ life. Many parents want to instruct their wayward children at every turn and remind them of all that they are doing wrong. This wise man was still and waited for God to work in his sons’ life. It says in Scripture that the Prodigal Son came to himself, came to his senses, when he was eating with the pigs. Not when his father was preaching to him about his sin. This wise father let God do a work in his sons’ heart. And God did it in the pigpen among the dirt and the slop.

He didn’t let his emotions rule his actions.

He didn’t yell at his son when he chose to leave and live in sin.  He didn’t chase after him and remind him over and over of his sin. Instead, he controlled his emotions and his actions. I believe this is one of the hardest things to do.  Good parents strive to keep their young ones from sin.  It is heartbreaking to watch a child, the one that you love, go down a destructive path. But I see where this wise father did not allow his sons actions to rule his emotions. He didn’t go after his son with strong emotion.  In fact, he didn’t go after him at all.   It is evident that he felt strong emotion by the way that he rejoiced when his son came home. But, he used his emotions for rejoicing instead of negative, out of control, or manipulative behavior.

He rested in the fact that he had trained him in the ways of the Lord.

He didn’t keep instructing, instead he rested in the fact that he had already done that. When a child is wayward the only thing he may accept from a parent at this time is unconditional love. He won’t hear reprimands, warnings, Bible verses or instruction. Those things are all good but a backslidden son or daughter is not open to them when they have chosen sin. Love covers a multitude of sins and unconditional love must cover a child who is in sin.

I spoke with a young man who had been raised in church, who had accepted Christ as his Savior, he knew the Bible stories and was raised by Godly parents.  Even so, he became a prodigal.  After living for a long season in sin he came back to the Lord.  He told me that he was at a Lady Gaga concert, of all places, when the Holy Spirit began to work in his heart.  Lady Gaga said something about there not being a God.  That statement stuck in his heart.  He kept thinking “who is she to say that?  Am I going to take her word for whether there is a God or not???”  Eventually those thoughts turned to “There is a God and what in the world am I doing?”  Just like the prodigal son, he came to the end of himself.  He is now a changed man living his life for Jehovah God.  But in the pig trough is where God got ahold of this young man’s heart.

Many times God allows a prodigal to go down their destrictive path so that God becomes real to him.  So that God becomes their God and not just the God of thier parents.  God creates a testimony in all of his children.  In the story of the prodigal son, this son had so much blessing and didn’t realize what he had until he had nothing but God.

Don’t give up in despair, parents!  God loves your child even more than you do.  His children, Adam and Eve, had everything they ever needed.  God had given them perfection and they ended up choosing sin. God the Father loved them unconditionally!  He also loves your child unconditionally.  Keep praying and believing!  I know that as long as there is breath, there is hope. Prayer achieves the miraculous…I have seen it over and over again!

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19 thoughts on “what the prodigal’s father did right

  1. Very well said, very helpful parenting info! It does amaze me however, that many people miss the fact that Jesus told this parable to point the finger at the Pharisees again. The parable is really about the Elder son and his hard-hearted unforgiving attitude.

  2. I soon needed this right now, thank you. My emotions do get over me. I’m afraid for my son, for his salvation and that puts deep fear in me!

    1. Trisha, I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit used this in your circumstance. We will be happy to pray for your son! Never forget, while there is breath there is hope.

  3. These words are such an encouragement to parents whose hearts are broken over a wayward child! If we could just let go and let God do his work in our children’s hearts, but sometimes very hard to do!

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