Summary: Encouragement for the parents of prodigals.
Listen to the following statement and consider the type of young man who would say such
“Union with Christ imparts an inner elevation, comfort in affliction, tranquil reliance and a heart
which opens itself to everything noble and great, not for the sake of ambition or desire for fame,
but for the sake of Christ. Union with Christ produces a joy . . . known only to the simple and
childlike heart, united with Christ and through him with God, a joy which elevates life and makes
it more beautiful.”
Beautiful words about Christ, aren’t they? Do you know who wrote them?
Karl Marx, early in his life. (Kathryn Lindskoog, “Search for Joy”)
Those words were written by the man who philosophical writings would provide the
underpinnings for Soviet communism.
One wonders: did Marx have a Christian mother or father who prayed for their child as he moved
away from God and toward atheistic communism?
Many parents know the pain of waiting for the prodigal child to return to his Heavenly Father’s
house. There are many of you in this congregation today who have long been praying for your
child to come back to the Lord.
You want to be a positive influence in them rededicating or getting saved. So the question is,
What should you be doing to be that positive influence?
Sadly, there is no passage in the Bible over which you could put the title: “How to bring your
children back to the Lord.”
There is, however, a similar situation that Paul addresses in a couple of places - the situation of a
family member you love who doesn’t know the Lord (specifically, a spouse). As I studied those
passages this week to see if there was godly wisdom in that situation that could be applied to this
situation, I came up with a couple of thoughts in reference to adult children who are away from
1. Your influence should be primarily without words.
Some parents think that badgering their kids all the time is the way to go, but Peter speaks in 1
Peter 3 about unbelieving husbands being “won over without talk.” Preaching and demanding
are probably not the best influence.
2. Your greatest influence is in your behavior, your actions, and your life.
The completion of that sentence from 1 Peter 3 is “won over without talk by the behavior of their
wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your life.” You need to be sure you’re living a
life that stands out.
Even as you endeavor to do these, however, your resolve may waver at times, so I want to give
you another thought which draws from a number of different passages:
3. Don’t give up.
I know you’ve prayed about this for years - don’t give up. I know you wonder if it’s ever going
to happen - don’t give up.
In fact, knowing how discouraging it can be, let me give you three simple but profound biblical
truths to encourage you not to give up.
a. Your child is not beyond the Lord’s reach.
Remember that quote from Karl Marx? Here is another quote from someone different:
“You know, I think that I believe in no religion. There is absolutely no proof for any of them,
and from a philosophical standpoint Christianity is not even the best. All religions. . . are merely
That one is from C.S. Lewis (arguably the greatest Christian writer of the twentieth century),
when he was 17. That statement sounded bad, but Lewis was not beyond the Lord’s reach.
Psalm 139:8 - “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my beds in the depths, you are
there.” Your child is not beyond the Lord’s reach.
b. The Lord is still working in your child’s life.
Romans 5:8 says God loved us while we were still in our sin. If your child is still in sin, God still
loves them and is working in their life - even in the midst of that mess.
c. The Lord is still longing to see your child saved.
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise. . .. He is patient with you, not
wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
We read in Luke 15 earlier and we only read halfway through v. 13 because we are looking at
this from the Father’s perspective.
[At this point, walk over to two porch chairs you set up on stage before the service started. Sit
down in one and continue talking.]
The last phrase in v. 13 - the father doesn’t know what the son is doing. All he knows is his son
is not home. He is not in the father’s house, but he longs for the son to be home again.