church · family · parenting

from a long way off… praying for prodigals

There’s nothing quite like having the flu to remind you just how weak and helpless you can feel. The past couple of weeks have been rough on the Wootton household, but it all reminds me of how things feel absolutely awful for what feels like forever at the time, and then everything changes. And vice versa.

I hadn’t really thought about the idea of being a prodigal at the time. There was a good long period of about a decade when, looking back, I could be classified as such. (Sidenote: My understanding of “prodigal” and the story of “The Prodigal Son” as told in Sunday school has forever changed because of Tim Keller’s work on the subject and I highly encourage anyone and everyone who hasn’t yet to read his book.)

I’ve been asked by people who hear my story what brought me back. It’s a simple answer and a really complex one at the same time. It was the grace of God, of course, and it was a long and winding journey that that He ordained since before time was time. This is hard truth. It’s hard to watch from a distance. I knew it then. I know it even more deeply now that I am a parent. I watch my little girls playing and my heart does rollercoasters of joy and fear for all they will experience in life from here out. Every heartache, every triumph, every sorrow, every fear. It is exhausting to even think about.

And as I was lying in my bed, in between coughing fits, I realized how helpless I feel in any of it. I can helicopter my kids and try to control every thing that comes into their lives. Try being the key word. Or I can have a laissez faire attitude and just let them figure it out. Somewhere in the middle I think is where we are called as parents. We are meant to be wiser and stronger. We know we are not always. And that’s where we have to be.

But it’s not as helpless as it may seem. It occurred to me that there is something I can do to help, something more than just helping. It’s fighting. It’s going to battle. It’s striking out against the enemies of sin and death and hate and fear. It’s putting on my armor, piece by piece, and defend the Kingdom. Epic, huh? It’s called PRAYING.

I have often wondered how much I really even believe in prayer. If I did, wouldn’t I be doing it ALL THE TIME? Wouldn’t my mind be constantly in conversation with God, asking for help, repenting of wrong thinking, giving back to Him all that I am hoarding? Wouldn’t I be fighting to keep my mind “Stayed on Jesus?” Yes. Yes I would. The fact that I don’t – the fact that WE, corporately, as The Church don’t pray to the degree that we should – shows just how little we really believe in its power. What if you knew you had the most important weapon in your pocket and in the darkest, most desperate hour you just forgot about it? Or you thought about using it and figured it wouldn’t work so why bother?

We have that weapon. We have that power. We know that prayer first changes US, our hearts, our minds, our souls. We know that God gave us the GIFT of prayer, so enter His presence, His royal throne room, freely and without shame. We know that it is unique to our lives, like nothing else we will do all day every day. We keep it in our pockets for what? For a rainy day? Well, friends, it’s raining. It’s pouring. It’s torrential. We have never needed prayer more than right now.

And so, I committed to God that I would pray EVERY DAY for the year of 2018 for the Prodigals. I know so many – too many. Those who have left the faith. Those who are wandering AND lost. Those who reject grace and truth. Those who have abandoned their spouses, their families, their kids, their parents. Those who have walked away silently, and those who have thrown their fists at the face of God and all those who claim to know Him.

It is painful. It burdens my soul. And I feel helpless. But I am reminded that I am not. So will you join me? Join me in praying for what we don’t know (when, where, how they will return) and for what we DO know (God’s pursuing love, working, redeeming even now). Pray with me.

If you would like me to add a name to my list, daily lifted up, please let me know. Email or add a comment here. I don’t need stories if you don’t want to share them. A first name or even initials will do. God knows. Even as I type this, as you read this, God is at work. Believe with me. Do the work of believing with me. Prayer is work. Prayer is a means of grace to help our unbelief. To the glory of God, who is RIGHT NOW making all things new.

In my research online, I came across this artist who I hadn’t heard of before, Eugene Burnand. I absolutely LOVE his work and spent a lot of time looking through his Parables series. I highly recommend it.

From the series, The Parables, by Eugene Burnand.





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