Encouragement For The Parent Of A Prodigal Child

Several months ago I was feeling very discouraged about one of my kids – who was actually a young adult. Choices being made by this child made me feel like I had failed somewhere in the years of parenting. My worst fears had come true: I had raised a prodigal child. There are so many questions I asked myself, the biggest one being, “Is this my fault?” I was doubting myself as a Mother, and wondering if I had failed my child somehow. With all of this inward doubt and these feelings of apprehension for his future, I began to seek some encouragement for a parent of a prodigal child.


Encouragement for the parent of a prodigal child. Image of discouraged woman sitting by the ocean

What to do when your child goes astray

Did I not live out my faith in a way that showed my child Christ through me? 

Discouragement and self-blame are a few of the tools the enemy uses to wear on a parent who is worried about the salvation of their child and the poor choices they are making in life. The doubt he places in the prodigal parent’s head can make you wonder if you failed as a parent. You wonder if it’s too late for you to be a light to your grown prodigal child. But friend, I’m here to tell you, these are lies. They are discouraging and unhelpful. So let’s focus instead on how you can pray for your lost child and leave this all in the Lord’s capable hands. 

I was talking one night with my daughter, and she reminded me of something I knew but had forgotten. She said to me, “Mom, you did everything you could do. You did your best. You obeyed God in how you brought all of us up and trained and taught us. This isn’t your fault.”

Now I’m SURE that I made many mistakes in my parenting with this particular child. All of my kids, for that matter. However, I truly can say that I did my best to obey what God told me as I raised my kids.

Encouragement for parents of prodigals

In the book, Solving a Crisis in Christian Parenting, it is expressed so well:

“In the Christian life it is important to understand that our highest success is not measured by the effect we have upon others, but strictly by our obedience to God. We obey and speak the truth – God bears the fruit. Parents, therefore, must do what is right and acquaint their children with Christ and His ways. They must train, discipline and instruct, with the intent, obviously, of bringing maturity and leading their children to Christ. However, from God’s standpoint, parents’ success is measured by their obedience – not by how their children ultimately choose to respond to their influence.

I once believed and taught that a parent could follow the right biblical steps and be guaranteed of raising children who remained faithful to God from childhood into their adult years. However, as my own children aged and I discovered that they were self-determining individuals with their own walks with Christ, I came to the alarming realization that I had a lot of control over their outside, but not their inside. They were like ALL adults who were faced with the choice of whether or not they were going to listen to Christ and follow Him. It was a rude awakening for me when I saw that even the best parenting could not exempt an adult child from making the wrong choice when faced with temptation. I do believe that by our influence we can greatly increase the likelihood our children will grow up to love and follow Christ, but I see nothing in Scripture that guarantees well-trained children will never succumb to temptation.”

Do you have a prodigal child?

Are you feeling discouraged, or maybe even losing hope that they will come back? 

One of my favorite things to tell parents is that we need to work as though it all depends on us, but pray as though it all depends on God. We need to do all that He tells us to as we train our children according to His Word, and then leave the results to Him.

Let me just share this one other thought from Scripture to encourage your heart. If you poured God’s Word into the heart and mind of that child during their formative years, even though they may be wayward now, you never know when one of those verses or passages you helped them memorize will come back to their mind, and protect them from a wrong decision. God’s Word won’t return onto Him void, but will accomplish what it is supposed to! Claim that promise! Keep trusting God to work in the heart of that wayward child. Continue to consistently pray for him, and love him as God would and does.

A prayer for the parent of a prodigal child

We know already that God has had a future and a plan for your child long before you ever even knew them. And just as my daughter pointed out to me that day, you’ve likely done your very best you could do over the years. It might not have been enough, but that doesn’t mean your child is a lost cause. The best you can do for your child right now is to support them and quietly pray intentionally for them every day. 

This isn’t easy, and trusting the Lord with your wayward child takes a whole lot of faith in a scary world like this one. But He has already promised He is with you and your child every step of the way. 


Lord,I pray today for this tired Mama.

Her heart aches for this child. Who for reasons we don’t know or understand has turned their back on you. They are choosing to live a life that grieves her.

Please hold her in the palm of your hand, give her your supernatural peace that surpasses all understanding. Remind her of her worth and that you love her child even more than she does.

I pray with hopeful anticipation that you are working in the heart of this child. I pray that it is your will that one day this child will come to know you in a powerful way. May their life will be a testimony to your grace, which leads others to you. 

Thank you Lord for being in all of the tiny details of her life.





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4 Responses

  1. Wow Jacqueline – you said that so well!! Love it!

  2. I have pastored a church, hosted women’s ministries, women’s conferences, written a book, am currently an evangelist and continue to plant new ministries – I still cannot make my children walk in the way I think is good, Godly and right. My seeds have been planted, I must trust in my loving Father to tenderly pull away the weeds, gently water when dry and protect during the frost and snow. Does my heart hurt? Yes. Do I weep? Yes. Do I still continue to stand on God’s Word? Yes. “Heavenly Father give us grieving Moms the faith to know that you are the gardener, we are only caretakers of your precious garden – our children.” In Jesus name we pray. amen

  3. There is so much wisdom here. We hold ourselves responsible for so much as mothers. Yet, we have to know when things are the responsibility of our children and trust in God to sort it out. Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays. Blessings.

  4. Hi Kathie! I am visiting from Fellowship Fridays.

    What family doesn’t have at least one little rebel in it? What sound advice it is to just try with everything you’ve got, and know it’s enough…because then God will step in. I love the passage about the ‘rain and snow come down’ to water the earth, and the Word will not return until the job is done. LOVE how you used that for your point.

    So great to meet you 🙂

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