Read an Excerpt
A Praying Mother Shares
Our daughter grew up in a Christ-centered home, filled with small group Bible studies, family devotions, and parents madly in love with Jesus. She went to a Christian university and led Bible studies. She knew the talk and the walk and did them well...until five years ago, when the spiritual foundation of her life began gradually eroding as the result of sporadic church attendance, the stress of infertility treatments, the influence of ungodly friends, and isolating herself from a family that dearly loved her, to name a few contributing factors.
Daily my husband and I prayed and prayed. Things only worsened. What would it take to bring this daughter to the end of herself? Where was the fruit of the Spirit? We couldn't see any evidence. Parents feel so helpless, especially a mom, who once had the most intimate of ties with this person. Our daughter hit bottom again and again. We continued praying.
Then God intervened. Through an incredible set of circumstances that continue to unfold, God flooded our daughter with the light of His presence. Suddenly she could see the awfulness of her sin and was unbelievably broken. Our daughter is now an avid follower of Jesus Christ.
She has reconnected with her father and me, and her perspective that I was her adversary has changed. How it melted my heart when she told me recently that I'm her greatest confidante. She sees Jesus guiding her life and responds obediently. The spiritual fruit in her life is plentiful and evident to everyone who knows her. As a mom, I praise our all-knowing and faithful God, who takes better care of the children He has given us than we as parents could ever do or imagine. But one thing I learned is that we aren't helpless as moms. Prayer is powerful.
My Daughter Kim Shares
Mom, I saw the book Praying God's Will for My Daughter in your bathroom one time, and I felt resentful that you thought I was "lost" and needed you to pray for me. You turned your life around so completely, and I couldn't relate to the new, "weird" you. All the praying stuff was outside of my comfort zone. When I learned you were praying for me, it upset me. I felt that I could take care of myself and didn't need your prayers.
A prodigal daughter is sick in spirit, and maybe in body, and the Great Physician's prescription is found in this chapter's opening scripture. In James 5:13-16 God tells us to pray for her healing. She may not appreciate our doing this, but when she's physically ill and a doctor tells us to give her medication daily, we don't hesitate to follow his instructions, even when she doesn't like the medicine. Similarly, we must follow God's instructions diligently if we want our daughters to be well.
Praying is the most powerful thing we can do for our prodigal daughters. Too often we turn to prayer as a last resort, when we've exhausted all other attempts to solve the problem on our own. We reserve calling on God for the big crisis instead of realizing that without including God, everything becomes a big crisis!
Perhaps you've been praying while making frantic phone calls, researching counselors, crying, screaming, pleading, and asking others for help; but I'm suggesting that prayer take precedence over everything else you're doing. How can I say that? Because I've been in your shoes. I know what it's like to watch your best efforts fail to change your daughter. My daughter's life turned around only after I acknowledged that daily prayer was my best effort. Not instantly God doesn't usually work like that. Your prodigal daughter may not even change in your lifetime. Regardless of the timetable, are you willing to place her well-being in God's capable hands? Can you surrender to His timing and plans?
I know how hard that is and what a test of faith. But God gave our daughters to us, and He asks us to trust Him enough to talk to Him about them. That's all prayer is just talking to God. In this first section of the book, we'll learn how to pray with a clean heart and right motivation; but for now let me ask you: will you pray for your prodigal daughter daily and as if her life depended on it? It does, you know. So I hope your answer is a resounding yes. But if you aren't sure, spend some time alone with God, asking Him to change your heart and motivate you to be a praying parent.
What prompted me to pray daily was asking myself: How badly do I want my prodigal daughter to change her ways? The answer: with all my heart, I wanted Kim to repent and find her way back to God. I knew that as a praying parent, I would be working with God to accomplish that goal.
A daily quiet time with God is a wonderful way to draw close to and petition Him. I have my quiet time in the morning, so I actually kept my Praying God's Will for My Daughter devotional guide in the bathroom, where I knew I would see it every morning. Sometimes I had to lock the door to steal a few moments alone, but I did whatever it took to ensure that I didn't miss a day of praying for Kim.
This daily, peaceful time with God helps us to rest in His presence: Psalm 46:10 tells us: "Be still, and know that I am God." In Matthew 6:6-8 Jesus said, "Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer- ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply" (MSG).
Sometimes even the most mature Christians aren't convinced that our prayers are adequate or necessary. Chris Tiegreen, author of The One Year Walk with God Devotional: Wisdom from the Bible to Renew Your Mind, assures us that our prayers are vital:
"We are not commanded to convince a reluctant God to do what He is loath to do; we are commanded to be a catalyst for His intervention. Not only is it acceptable to make our appeals to Him, it is required. God gives us the impression that His activity in the affairs of men is somehow contingent on the prayers of intercessors. If we don't pray, He doesn't act. In His divine arrangement with this planet, our prayers are essential. It is His plan for us to ask; when we don't, we violate His plan....
...His plan may hinge on your pleadings. Plead however and whenever He leads."
I hope the Holy Spirit is prompting you to pray daily for your prodigal daughter and that you realize it's more than a suggestion or an option: it's a necessity. If you aren't yet a believer, know that God does hear your prayers; but His promises are for those who believe in and follow His Son Jesus Christ. Will you consider accepting God's plan for your life? If so, turn to the prayer on page 33 and ask Jesus to come into your heart right now. It's a decision you'll never regret.
I'm just an ordinary mom who understands that God listens and responds to our prayers. He waits for them. I don't understand how He hears all our petitions, but I know that He does. This book will be ineffective unless you also surrender your will to God's will and pray with an undoubting heart. I plead with every parent to search your heart for any shadows of doubt. If you find any, ask God to remove it, and implore others to pray on your behalf until you can say to God, as the psalmist did, "Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long. ...Your word is my source of hope." (Psalm 119:97, 114 NLT).
As you begin reading and praying from this book, let me offer one caution. Kim saw my prayer devotional in my "secret closet of prayer," the bathroom, and was offended that I was praying for her. I never knew that, or that my praying made her resentful, until she wrote down her thoughts for inclusion in this book. It's tempting to think your daughter will be glad to know you care enough to pray for her, so you "just happen" to leave this book out for her to see. That's probably not a good idea. I hope the day will come, as it did for me and Kim, when you can share with your daughter how fervently you prayed for her. But until then, I suggest keeping this book in a private area of your room or office.
Even if your daughter does see this book, don't let that deter you from reading it and praying. Many things you do probably aren't agreeable with your prodigal daughter right now anyway; but someday she'll thank you, as mine thanked me, for loving her enough to pray for her.
Parent to Parent
When I began praying daily for my prodigal daughter, my life was full, as I'm sure yours is also. I had a career, a new marriage, new stepchildren, and a new ministry. Where would I find the discipline and time to pray for Kim every single day? My motivation came from realizing that nothing I'd done so far was working. I might even have pushed my daughter further away. I knew that God was the only answer, so I vowed to redirect all my frustrated energy into petitioning Him on Kim's behalf. I put my precious prodigal daughter into God's capable hands. I know you can do this too.
Suggestions for Fitting Prayer into Your Daily Schedule
Set a regular time to spend with God in prayer, as you would set a recurring appointment.
Choose the time of day when you focus best.
Think about what you could eliminate from your schedule, if necessary, to make room for this special time.
Turn off the TV earlier, or turn it on later, and spend that time in prayer.
Pray while you walk, jog, or exercise.
Set your alarm a half hour earlier.
Go to the office early, or pray while eating lunch.
If you can pray daily for three weeks, prayer should then be an established part of your daily routine.
From My Prayer Journal
NOVEMBER 16, 1993
Started praying daily for Kim.
Let's Pray Together
Lord, praying daily and spending quiet time with You is a new act of obedience. Our prayer is that it will become enjoyable and not merely dutiful. Let us feel Your presence when we pray, and let our daughter reap the benefits in her life. Help us to pray daily, but please never let our devotional time fall into the realm of the mundane. We love You, Lord. Amen.
Family and Support Group Discussion
1. Are you willing to pray daily for your prodigal daughter? Why or why not?
2. When can you schedule in a quiet time?
3. Do you believe in the power of prayer? Why or why not? If you're unsure, what will you do to become more confident?
4. Discuss whether you believe God can save your prodigal daughter and the reasons why or why not.
Your Prayer Journal
Release your anguish and pain. God is waiting with a listening ear and compassionate heart. He wants to hear from you.
Copyright © 2007 Janet Thompson