ODJ: Patience, Prayer and Love

November 24, 2018 

READ: Luke 15:11-32 

And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming (v.20).

Elizabeth Stone wrote that having a child is “to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”. Indeed. My biggest fear is that my children might walk away from God.

Perhaps Solomon shared the same concern. He began Proverbs with seven chapters addressed to his children. Every chapter opens with a variation of “My child, never forget the things I have taught you” (Proverbs 3:1). He later wrote, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (22:6). Yet he probably realised there are no guarantees.

Jesus understood and told a story that offers hope for anguished parents. The parable of the prodigal son reminds us that we can’t control a child’s heart. The son essentially told his father, “Drop dead. I want my inheritance now” (see Luke 15:12). If it could happen to this dad, it can happen to us. We can’t make our child love us or Jesus. But we can choose:

Patience. The father didn’t step in and rescue his son but gave him room to make his own choices, despite the possibility of negative consequences (vv.13-19).

Prayer. “And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming” (v.20). The father never stopped hoping his son would return. We can’t change our child’s heart, but we know Someone who can. As Bishop Ambrose encouraged the mother of a wayward son named Augustine, “It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

Love. The father immediately forgave his son. He “ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him” (v.20). The father in this story is God. He loves prodigals like us, and He cares for our children even more than we do. Let’s rest in that reality.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day plan: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Read Psalm 36:5-7 and consider how God’s unfailing love is there for you and those you love. 
How can you rest in God as you pray for your loved one to return to Him? How does it encourage you to know God loves this person even more than you do?