Summary: A look at the parable of the prodigal son and what it says to parents of adult children who are not following the Lord.
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 10, 2013
St. Andrew’s Church
The Rev. M. Anthony Seel, Jr.
The Lost Son and the Loving Father: Praying for our Adult Children
Bestselling author Stormie Omartian tells a story about two families that she calls the Joneses and the Browns (not their real names). The Jones had a son who was always getting into trouble. Omartian says,
He finally got arrested, and instead of bailing him out, Mr. and Mrs.
Jones decided to let him learn a hard lesson by leaving him in jail for
a while. Unfortunately, he was assaulted in jail and beaten by one of
the prisoners until he was dead from his wounds. The parents got a
call from the authorities informing them of what happened and where
they could pick up his body. They were devastated and overtaken with
guilt because of what they could have prevented. They were good
parents who were trying to do the right thing, but it turned out terribly
I know another family – let’s call them the Browns – whose son had
also been giving his parents grief for some time. When he got arrested
and was sentenced to jail, they also did not try to get him off. They
knew he was guilty, and they wanted him to understand the
consequences of his actions. He ended up spending a short in jail,
but it turned his life around. His jail time was such an unforgettably
horrible experience that he never wanted to repeat it. All of us who
who prayed for him asked God to open his eyes to the truth about
the path that he was on and where he was headed. We prayed that
God would reveal to him who he was created to be and the future
the Lord had for him. God answered those prayers because he
came out a changed person. He went on to college and made
something out of his life and didn’t waste his life with foolish
pursuits again. [The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children,
Both sets of parents did what they believed was best for their sons. Both sets of parents made the same, identical decision, but there were two very different outcomes. For the Joneses, it turned into a devastating loss. For the Browns, there was glorious redemption. We never know how things will turn out, do we?
In her book, The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, Omartian comments, “Let’s face it. Children are a guilt trip from the time they are born.” [p. 15]
What do you do when, despite your best efforts, your children no longer walk with the Lord? Hopefully, you pray. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, do you suppose the father did any praying? While his son was squandering his inheritance, I bet the father was praying night and day for his son.
Finally, the Prodigal Son comes to his senses.
vv. 17-19 "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."'
The lost son realizes that even his father’s servants are better off than he is at this point. The question in his mind is whether his father will receive him back. His actions had hurt his father, his family, and his family’s farm.
The father would have had to sell family assets to fulfill his son’s demand – land, animals, perhaps even land with buildings.
vv. 20-23 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father
saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to
him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called
your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and
put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us
eat and celebrate.
A celebration? What has happened? How could this be? I’m a disgrace. I’m a disgrace to my father, my
Family, and my village.
But his father saw it differently. His father said,
v. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to
Yes, his son had been profligate. Yes, his son had been wasteful, selfish, reckless, stupid, self-indulgent.