Dear Church Family,
Greetings from Irish Preachers' Conference.
Last Sunday we were thinking about 'Praying for Prodigals'. A friend described a prodigal as someone for whom the good news has simply stopped being good news. However, I want to broaden the definition of prodigal to include those who have grown up in Christian homes, or churches, and have never seen the good news as good news. It breaks our hearts to see people we love be presented with Jesus and yet walk away empty.
Jack Miller was a wonderful Christian leader whose daughter, Barbara, dramatically walked away from the faith she had been taught by her parents. In a wonderful devotional ('Saving Grace'), Jack writes about our own prodigal tendencies:
Many times we think, whether consciously or unconsciously, that we can go on vacation from God. What's really happening is that we think of God as the enemy of our happiness, and we go our own way. But God is not our enemy. He's our friend and he wants us to be happy and free.
One of church history's most famous prodigals was Augustine (from the fourth-century). His mother, Monica, prayed for him for years as he excelled in wild living. In his spiritual autobiography, 'Confessions', he begins: 'God you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.' He also wrote that God loves the individual Christian as if their was only one of us.
So pray with me:
'Dear loving Father, we know your desire to save the lost. You know the burden we have that you would save our sons, daughters, grandchildren, parents, wider family, friends and neighbours. Please convince them that you are not the enemy of their happiness but want them to be truly happy and free. Please show them how empty life is without you. Please convict them of their sin through the work of the Holy Spirit. Please show them that love is defined at that cross where Christ died for human guilt. And please help us not give up hope or grow weary as we pray for them.' Amen.
Two books worth reading for those who are concerned about their prodigal children are:
John Miller and Barbara Miller Juliani, 'Come Back, Barbara',
Jeff Lucas, 'Will your prodigal come home?'