It has been my joy across the last several weeks to spend time with women in different states as I speak in different locations. Between sessions or over meals we talk about life. More often than not, I hear a familiar tale of a child who has rejected their faith completely or is not engaging in Christianity right now. The details display differently, but the heartache felt by these moms was similar. Would you join me today for these precious moms in praying over the wayward child?
Before we do, let’s think about the issue for a moment. Why has this tale become so common, even in Christian homes and schools?
Why are young people leaving their childhood faith?
Young people abandoning their roots of faith is not new. It’s an increasing phenomenon that has been tracked for decades. And the trend is not hopeful. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Family Life Council, LifeWay Students and LifeWay, along with the Barna Group all found a majority of students who were active in church during their high school years, leaving the church in the years that follow, with numbers ranging from sixty percent to eighty-eight percent.
What can we do when our child is wayward?
Honestly, I’m not walking this particular path. Half of mine (4 kids still in the home) are yet to launch. I carry no judgment. The only wisdom I can offer springs from what I have gleaned from others, which is great first step. Strategist and scholars suggest seeking out people who hold a biblical worldview and have experienced what you are going through.
Most people well-versed on what to do when you have a wayward child quickly warned against blaming yourself. Our tendency is to look at ourselves and the situation as our fault. We perseverate on how our actions could have changed the current outcome. Maybe things would be different if they had not missed those nights of AWANA or if the time had been spent filling in every blank for Bible study. The point is that we can beat ourselves up all night long for all our lack, but it won’t change the situation. Only God can woo the wayward soul back to himself.
Great advice from those who know is to let past go and, instead, position yourself for battle. Pray for all that needs to be prayed over. The Bible is replete with examples for how to respond to a wayward child and what to pray. Turns out, we are all prone to wonder.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love:
Take my heart, oh, take and seal it
With Thy Spirit from above. (Come Thou Fount)
What does the Bible say about the wayward?
The prophet, Jeremiah, is a prime example. Jeremiah was sent to God’s people—the collective poster child for the rebellious, the backsliders, and those that refused to listen. He was sent to speak Truth to them anyway. To warn them, teach them, care for them, and to pray for them. Jeremiah was to declare and demonstrate God’s love them in spite of their waywardness.
“Return home, you wayward children,” says the LORD, “for I am your master. I will bring you back to the land of Israel — one from this town and two from that family— from wherever you are scattered.
And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.
“And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the LORD, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the LORD ’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark.
In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the LORD .’ All nations will come there to honor the LORD . They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires.
In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever. Jeremiah 3:14-18
And he did because these actions and attitudes reflect the very heart of God.
Consistent throughout Scripture is the character of God to search for and bring back the lost, the backsliders, and even the one steeped in sin. The very essence of the Gospel is God’s willingness to forgive the unforgivable, love the hateful, and show mercy on the merciless. Personal transformation is His specialty. So, hang onto hope, my friend, and allow me to join you in praying over the wayward child in your life.
A Prayer for the Wayward Child
I come before you today asking for the heart of my friend’s child. No matter how difficult the situation or the magnitude of mess made, I pray for your wooing power to draw them to Yourself. You, along, restore the broken and bring back the lost. Forgive us for having any part of the brokenness and restore us by the righteousness of Christ.
Lead my friend to the Truth she can rely upon. Give her courage to leave her child in your hands. Provide the resources she needs to be ready and able to give a reason for her faith when hard questions are looming, and the grace to love unselfishly the one who has turned away from You.
Guide the wayward away from sin, the desire for it, and the people involved in it. Illuminate the Truth. Bring back the one who has strayed, showering them with love, forgiveness, and mercy as only You can.
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