Thursday, April 27, 2006

When it feels like there is nothing you can do

Each time our children face a struggle, the first thing, the immediate reaction of a parent is to step in and try to resolve their pain. A huge dilemma for a prodigal's parent is letting go of that innate desire. This was a major problem for me! (And that's an understatement!)

Seven years into my son's prodigal journey (I'm a little slow on the uptake!), God prompted my heart to "let go of my son; to take my hands off him so He could begin a good work in my son" (see here). Ever felt like rebelling? After my initial rebellious ranting, "No way am I gonna do that!", I began to try it. I soon realized that even though my first reaction was, "How can I sit by and do nothing???????", I became busy--that's B.U.S.Y. praying for my prodigal. Where I was once hands-on-interfering with God, I learned that I could be a partner in His work by praying for my son. Folks, there is power in surrender!

Finding books on praying for our children became a useful tool; praying Scripture for my son was invaluable. Soon, my anxious heart was filled with peace--by letting go I had not abandoned my son, I was a fighting warrior for his soul!

Just last week I discovered a great website, Hannah's Cupboard: Praying the Prodigal Home.
This morning, I am praying one of their suggested prayer strategies: The Hedge: From Hannah's Cupboard:

The Hedge--Hosea had a prayer strategy to bring his harlot wife back. "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!'" (Hosea 2: 6-7).

Imagine a person inside a thorny hedge, unable to get out. They may try to go their own way but they can't hack their way through the dense hedge. You can pray that though your child tries to go in the paths of sin, they are stopped in every effort. Pray and declare God's hedge around your loved one. Declare that they are coming to their senses as they are hedged in and can't get out. (The pig pen was the prodigal son's hedge).

I am busy doing nothing--I am praying a hedge around my son so God will work with him--And protect him from the enemy. I will have to do some Biblical research on this, but I feel certain that we can pray a protective hedge around our loved ones. Have you done this for your children...whether prodigal or not? Protecting our children is a parent's number one (well--maybe number two right after loving them!) priority. I am asking God to continue His work with my son's life (within the hedge) AND to protect him from any attacks of the enemy--who wants to maintain a stronghold on his life.

Also from Praying the Prodigal Home are Do's and Don'ts 'til Victory Comes! (Don't you just love that word--V.I.C.T.O.R.Y!)

  • Ask God to give you a specific scripture that you can pray and claim for your child. For instance, [....] "I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners." (Isaiah 57:18)
  • Refrain from manipulating or trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit yourself. (There's that surrender thing again!) Pray and then let God arrange divine appointments etc. He doesn't need your help (WHAT?) and he'll do a much better job than you, I promise. (So true!)
  • Avoid demanding time frames. Yes, you want it to happen NOW but you will end up frustrated and discouraged if you claim timings that God does not initiate. (You mean I am causing my own frustration? Surprise!) This is a very delicate balancing act: pressing hard and aggressively for your child's return to the Lord and yet waiting patiently and trusting God for his way and his time.
  • Don't give up no matter how long your child sits in his pig pen. Keep watching and expecting his return. Have the fatted calf in the wings, waiting for the big celebration. It's coming. "Is anything too difficult for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14) NO! NOTHING!

My friends, these are useful tools for all children, prodigal or not! I hope by sharing them with you, the next time a trial threatens fear: you will feel at peace! Even when it feels like there is nothing we can do--we can get busy! We are partners with God; the One who loves our children even more than we do!


Morning Glory said...

Doesn't it just make you crazy when it feels like there's nothing you can do??? Many years ago I came across a list that fits in with your theme today.

Effective prayer for children must be:
1. Consistent and earnest
2. Pray for the productivity of their lives.
3. Pray for their values. May mine be right so they can be reflected in my children.
4. Pray how to apply Christian principles to their lives.
5. Pray they might be able to endure difficult people and situations.
6. Pray that the Lord will be working in the molding of their attitudes, that they will have a life of joy.
7. Pray for their self-image.

It was good food for thought for me. I've carried that list around in my Bible for years. Maybe it will be useful to you. God bless!

heartsjoy said...

Some good thoughts.

HolyMama! said...

my daughter is a prodigal, even though she's just 11. it makes your site, and posts like this - so important to me. thank you!

Praying for your Prodigal said...


Thanks for sharing. I will, with your permission add your name to the list of mom's who are preparing for the feast...and expecting the celebration to be soon!

:) Diane

Gardenia said...

Isaiah 54:9-17!

I also use Stormy Omartian's "Power of a Praying Parent."

I am going to look for the ones you mentioned!

Very good blog today - so helpful & encouraging. Thanks!

BooMama said...

I pray for that hedge of protection all the time. ALL the time. I pray for his wife, too - and he's only three! :-) But I know that God knows who she is, you know? I also love to pray that he'll have God's heart - not his own - because his own heart will fail him time and time again. I have never thought to pray for what morning glory listed in her #5 - but that is an awesome point. Great discussion here!

Rebecca said...

My mom used to pray something like that for my brother, from the time he was little... She prayed that whatever he did, he would get caught. Without fail. That poor guy couldn't get away with anything, no matter how hard he tried! But those painful experiences molded him into the dynamic man of God he is today. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and lessons from the journey. It means a lot to young moms like me who are learning to pray for their little ones.

Juliabohemian said...

I have been reading your updates on your son's progress. I am curious as to what exactly he was doing that had you so concerned. You have been rather vague. I was trying to figure out if you were being literal or figurative about his being "prodigal".

Carol said...

Very interesting blog title. Is your child's story in the archives? God bless.

Praying for your Prodigal said...

Julia and Carol,

You can find some detail about my son's journey in the archives (from the very first post). I have kept the details sketchy, however, as I believe, the details of the story belong to my son.

Wanting to respect that, I try to post from a mother's perspective. You will find snippets of the issues we have dealt with throughout my posts; I do this not to annoy or be vague but to respect my son's right to privacy. I choose to release my thoughts into the blogosphere--but I don't feel I have the right to make public the details of his mistakes or "growing pains."

I hope you understand; please know that I chose the title of my blog very specifically and literally. Each family may experience different dynamics of dysfunction but the bottom line remains the same. I actually entitled this blog after a support group I faciliated. As a group of mothers, we met each Friday morning to offer one another support, encouragement....and accountability! Prayer was also a main focus. In Luke's story of the lost son, the prodigal's journey led to a pig pen. Of the eight women in the group--some dealt with drug related issues, others were dealing with criminal offenses. It was clear at that time, it didn't matter what their child's "pig pen" was specifically--having a prodigal can be a painful and isolating journey.

I must mention--we did not encourage mom's to join our group if their issues were related to lighter struggles; such as "My child got a c+ and could be doing much better" or " I don't like the kind of music my child is listening to....etc." We did this not to suggest that these are not struggles for parents--but it is hard to discuss issues, such as "My son is in prison for eight years for beating up and robbing someone." It is hard to balance the focus that type of behavior with the C+ dilemma.

Kids addicted to drugs, kids involved with gangs, kids committing crimes cause a very unique pain for parents. For each of the women in my group--none expected these things would happen. Each had been intricately involved in their child's life up to that point and beyond. While these were good parents with kids who were going wrong.....we each struggled to understand how this could happen.

So that is the long answer to a very specific--short and sweet--question. Maybe I will post someday to further explain. I don't mind the question--I appreciate the question. It is a good question--one that I might ask if I didn't already know all of the details.

One of the better definitions of prodigal that I have read is by H. Norman Wright. When asked, "What do you mean by the term prodigal?" he replied:

"The word is used to describe someone who is extrememly wasteful. In the biblical story of the prodigal son, the son wastes his inheritance and so much more. Prodigal children waste the values their parents have worked to instill in them. They waste their potential, their abilities, their health, their future. In some cases, they waste their lives. [...] I consider a child who has rejected the values of his family to be a prodigal, even if that child still lives at home, even if that child is 12 years old."

I hope you will accept my thanks--for visiting--for encouraging--and for asking the question!

:) Diane

Juliabohemian said...

I guess I was trying to feel for whether or not you were the first type of parent you mentioned, or the second one. I understand you wanting to respect his privacy. I wouldn't want anyone documenting my teenage mistakes online. Fortunately for me, there was no internet yet!

GiBee said...

I totally believe in praying a hedge of protection around ... well ... whoever needs it. Especially my little son -- every night. And -- I pray that God place his guardian angels all around him to protect him and keep him healthy.

I also love the list Morning Glory shared!

Praying for your Prodigal said...

Julia--thanks! I'd NEVER complain about a C+!


Kristen said...

Oh, I so wish I could get you in touch with my mom. You have so much in common.

My children are young and I am already praying this protective hedge on them. It is my greatest fear, after seeing so many young ones raised in Christian homes go against their beliefs they were raised with, that my children will do the same thing. But I have to remember that I must lift them up to the Lord and pray, pray, pray all the time.

Thank you for you and your blog.

Cathy West said...

This is really great. I know all about the power in surrender. Not for a prodigal but for another situation that I thought I could control. Nothing happened until I totally surrendered the entire thing to God.
And then, boy did He move!!
Great blog here, Diane. I will enjoy visiting.

Praying for your Prodigal said...

Yes, Cathy! The principles that I post here are for everyone--not just those who know and love a prodigal. Your point is an important point: whatever the desert experience, whatever we are waiting for, when we turn it over to God--and stand in the gap--we are empowered by His ressurection power. We become partners with God for our hearts desire.

Great point Cathy!


Sis. Julie said...

I faced a situation with my son a little over a year ago when he wanted to go his own way in something that his father and I knew was not God's will for him. He was 19 yrs. old and even though he lived in our home we had every right to tell him he couldn't do it or move out....but we wanted him to learn from it. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do was to let him make his decision. Some people said it was a good decision for him because it was in all appearances "a Christian decision" but if it goes against Scripture then it isn't God's will. We let him make his decisions and I tried in my own strength to hinder him from doing this thing. All I kept doing was hindering God doing His work in his life. I finally got to the place as well where I took my hands off the situation and committed it to prayer. I can thankfully say that he is now out of that situation and is serving the Lord again. He almost missed God's will in his life for a future wife but because he was obedient to the Lord (finally) that he is courting his future wife. To God be the Glory!! It's when we step out of the way and let God work in our children's lives that God can really do what He desires to do.