The Prayers and Tears of St. Augustine’s Mother

One of my daughters was reading Confessions by St. Augustine about the time I was grieving in tears every day for my prodigal son. I found this story about his mother very consoling because St. Augustine was a prodigal himself who came to be a saint. I’m just going to quote some helpful passages out of the book:

“But you ‘sent down your help from above’ Psalms 144:7, and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son. For in her faith and in the spirit which she had from you she looked on me as dead. You heard her and did not despise the tears which streamed down and watered the earth in every place where she bowed her head in prayer.” (Page 68)


Continue reading this reblogged post here.


God Loves the Broken Hearted by Cathey Stott

It seems timely to reblog this post…

This is an excerpt from a series of articles by Cathey Stott. I thought it was exceptionally helpful to those that are grieving…

The early days of grieving can be very foggy. Life seems unreal and many people report having trouble concentrating or difficulty with their memory. Some feel as if they are losing their mind. Be assured that all such feelings are normal. After all, your entire life has been turned upside down and your brain will need some time to catch up to reality. And then there is the matter of your heart. Your heart is broken so badly and into so many pieces that is seems there is no way you can ever heal.

Just remember what Psalm 34:18 says:
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(NIV) Read more here

Good News About Prodigals by Tom Bisset

Someone shared with me this  excerpt from  Good News about Prodigals by Tom Bisset. It is so encouraging that I thought it would be well worth passing on  to those of you  who haven’t heard of it.

   “In this book, I have outlined five basic reasons that prodigals return to the faith. A pattern exists; we know why people drop out and we know why they return. Without exception, you will find one or several of these reasons in the stories of all prodigal’s journey home.

   First, they return because of the influence of another person – a spouse, family member, friend, or spiritual leader. This factor is one constant in all returning stories; someone else is always involved, usually significantly, in the prodigal’s journey home.

   Second, they come back because they have a personal or family problem that they cannot solve. Leaving the faith seemed to be the answer to their problems. But in fact, it wasn’t all that easy. Life brought serious problems and doubts of its own. Typically, trouble takes time – anywhere from several years to several decades. But in the end, problems bring prodigals home.

   Third, they return because they are experiencing an emotional and spiritual void in their lives. When life loses its meaning and all seems lost, empty hearts and tormented minds turn toward the God who is there. The good news is that God promises to be found by all who seek Him.

   Fourth, they come back because they are concerned about their children’s moral and spiritual futures. Love for children is a universal emotion from which no parent can escape. Often, God uses this mother and father love to track down adult prodigals with children and create renewed interest in Himself.

   Fifth, they come home because of unexpected, life-changing spiritual experience. Simply put, God breaks into prodigal lives, sometimes radically and calls prodigals to Himself. It’s as if at a certain point along the way God says, “Enough’s enough. Time’s up. Come home now.” And the prodigal returns, or at least begins the journey home.

   This last reason is the easiest to overlook. No doubt this is because we tend to think about a prodigal son or daughter in practical, everyday terms. We grieve over the mess they have made of their lives. We feel a range of emotions, from anguish and anger to guilt and hopelessness. It’s all very real, very now.

   What is more, we want to do something – talk, plead, take action. We sense that we can help. And in fact, we can (it’s why I wrote this book). We can be an active participant in helping our kids understand the difference between error and truth, between life and death. This is what we have done with our children since they were little. Why stop now? Furthermore, to not take action is tantamount to giving up, something no parent of any prodigal will ever do.

   But doing something is not necessarily the answer. Sometimes, we need to do nothing and let God take care of things. In the midst of our trying and crying on behalf of our prodigal children, the hardest thing of all is to remember two simple words: But God.

…I almost forgot that God can sovereignly take charge of people’s lives at the time and place of His choosing. He doesn’t need you or me to do this. He decides to act, and that’s that.”  ~ Tom Bisset

You can order this book at amazon.

31 Days ~ Thank You

Day 21 ~ Thank You

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.” Psalms 127:3

From the book Prayers for Prodigals ~

“I don’t think I’ve said thank you enough lately, Lord.
Your Word reminds me that children are a blessing from You.
I’d like to thank you again for the blessing of my son.
He is your own beautiful and unique creation.
There will never be anyone exactly like him.
I praise you for he is “fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful I know that full well” (Psalms 139:14)
I thank you for my son’s good characteristics.
I even thank you for the strength of his will and look forward to the day that it will be used to serve you with devotion and resolve.
I thank you for the things I sometimes take for granted: the blessings of health and food, and a roof over our heads.
Even though times are challenging right now, I don’t want to stop saying thank you.
Your Word tells me to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)” ~ James Banks
I think this is such an incredible reminder, and I thank James Banks for writing this book…Giving thanks in all circumstances is so important in our walk with Christ and as Paul said in Thessalonians, it is God’s will for us.
Spending time thanking God for our circumstances, because “He works all things our for good” is part of trusting Him. And I am convinced that He is teaching us to TRUST Him in a way that I never imagined. Perhaps we have gotten too self reliant living in a country that has so much. Whatever it is, there is a lesson for us…more than a lesson…a deep yearning for TRUTH and LIFE and FOCUS on Christ alone. And a major part of this is to totally rely on Him.
Give thanks in all things for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in his book The Cost of Discipleship, “…intersession is the most promising way to reach our neighbors, and corporate prayer, offered in the name of Christ, the purest form of fellowship.”
In praying together we are in fellowship, and in agreement with each other, and in communion with Christ. And He loves us and hears our prayers…
Thank you all for all your prayers.

The Sights and Sounds of Enabling ~ Diane Viere and Elaine Altman-Eller

“When a child is an addict—we don’t have to stop loving them; we simply must love them differently. It is a higher calling. To withhold what comes naturally, to surrender our child’s future to their Creator, to let go of our paternal instincts and have faith in our God who shares in our love for our children is sacrificial love. I sacrifice my human nature—that I have the answers—that I have control over my child’s decisions—that I must intervene. Conversely, it is when I intercede for my son that I practice real love—love on its knees.” ~ Diane Viere

I am so excited about this ebooklet. I have seen Diane reaching out to so many people in so many ways with such a compassionate heart, because she knows the pain, she knows the prodigal journey and she knows the hope we have in Christ, and the miracles that enfold as we surrender and allow God to work in our lives and the lives of our prodigals.

I have not personally dealt with addictions, but from what I have read in this booklet Diane and Elaine are offering a life changing way to deal with anyone having this problem. They take you step by step and show you if you are enabling your child and how to free yourself of the destructive behavior of enabling. If you are dealing with this kind of trial in your life, I recommend that you read this booklet. You will probably relate in some way with the examples that are given. Knowing how to free yourself and let go of your child or the person in your life who is an addict may be the very thing that leads them to recovery.

Thank you, Diane and Elaine for helping hurting parents of prodigals!

Here is the link to purchase and download the ebooklet …

Summary ~ In this first ebooklet of the Putting the Spotlight On series, written by Diane Viere, Founder of Partners In Prayer For Our Prodigals, Host of The Prodigal Hope Network and Christian Counselor and Elaine Altman-Eller, Family Recovery Specialist you will discover the critical difference between helping and enabling, the traps of enabling, and the cycle of destruction that occurs until we stop enabling the addicts we love.Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Have you tried everything you can think of…to no avail? Are you exhausted? Do you feel helpless and hopeless; trapped by the knowledge that what you have been doing is not working? Have you sacrificed your own well being with the sole desire of saving your addict? Why isn’t it working?

The Sights and Sounds of Enabling puts the spotlight on the ineffectiveness and collateral damage caused by enabling. Discover why enabling never works and how you can stop enabling today. Step out of the darkness of your hopelessness today; step into your strength—learn how to love your addict effectively and become a guiding light for their recovery.

Ye Are Not Forgotten ~ Painting by Jon McNaughton

“Have you ever had someone you love go astray? Perhaps they continuously make poor choices which have lead to great sorrow and difficulty. Perhaps it is no fault of their own. We may find that all we can do is pray that the Lord will help them. These lost sheep may find themselves feeling abandoned and unloved. But the Savior has told us that He is the Good Shepherd and every soul is of great worth. He will leave the flock to find the one. For me this little black lamb represents the sheep that has lost his way. The Savior sits in front of the olive tree which represents His atonement in Gethsemane. The red poppies, as if drops of blood remind me of this sacrifice for each of us. The white lambs gather around Jesus and they know that they are unconditionally loved. Then the Savior gently picks up the little black lamb and whispers, “Ye are not forgotten.”  ~ Jon McNaughton

See more about Jon McNaughton and his beautiful paintings at McNaughton Fine Art

Wandering Children by Susanne Scheppmann

Here is a devotion by Susanne Scheppman that I found very encouraging. She relates her own experience, and how she attributes her return to the faith to the fervent prayers of her mother. So, my friends, keep on praying.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

“Research shows that our children are wandering from the faith. “Why?” we ask. The answer is not simple. Even the experts realize the reason our children wander from the faith is multifaceted.

The truth is our children are straying from Christianity rapidly as soon as they move into their twenties. According to a recent George Barna study, “In total, six out of ten twentysomethings were involved in a church during their teen years, but have failed to translate that into active spirituality during their early adulthood.” Again, there is no concrete answer to the questions of why our children wander.

But I know this statistic holds true in my own life. I became a Christian at the age of 15. I was on fire for Jesus. I loved Him from the depths of my soul—with all my heart, mind and strength. But then in my mid-twenties I walked away from my faith. Why?

For me, it was because I could not understand pain and suffering. If God was good, how could He allow all this junk in my life? I remember going to my pastor’s wife for help with this question. However, I felt she criticized me for my lack of faith rather than help me comprehend God’s ways. So I didn’t return to her for counseling; instead I turned to my friends who seemed to understand my confusion. Sadly, they weren’t walking strong in their own faith and inadvertently led me further away from God.

For seven years I walked in a desert of destructive sin.

Finally, after years of frustrated living, Jesus drew me back to Him. It wasn’t a big church event. It wasn’t a friend who witnessed to me about my sins. It was the Spirit of God who nudged me back to being a devoted follower of Christ. It wasn’t mystical. It was not full of fireworks—it occurred in a Volkswagen Jetta in the parking lot of Knott’s Berry Farm. It was just Jesus reconnecting with His lost lamb because of the prayers my mother prayed for me.

I do believe wholeheartedly that my mother’s prayers were answered. Her prayers never wavered. Her love never failed. She persevered when the future looked bleak for her eldest child’s faith walk. Never underestimate the power of a parent’s prayer. Our key verse declares, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” If you are a parent of a wandering child, hold fast to this verse in your mind and pray for your child.

God hears. He answers. I know this to be true because I was child who wandered, but was brought back by the fervent prayers of a praying parent and the loving hand of God.”

Dear Lord, give me the strength and faith to keep praying for my child. Help me understand, though it might take years, You are a God who hears and answers the prayers of a praying parent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Blaming Yourself For Your Prodigal

It’s been awhile since I’ve looked online for an article about prodigals that I think would be helpful, but tonight I came across this one…thank you to whoever wrote this…

My husband and I have experienced the reality of knowing, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” . Our two daughters professed Christ at an early age, witnessed in their schools, traveled on mission trips, and embarked into adult life with a passion for Christ. Our family life has been built around joy and laughter; and even through the teen years, we enjoyed close family times backpacking and ministering together here and abroad. The girls have been characterized as leaders, constantly encouraging and challenging those around them to live their Christian beliefs.

It always brought us great joy knowing that our children were walking in the truth. Then one bought into a lie. Now we see the flip side to the above verse; there is no greater sorrow than seeing your children walk in a lie. Since our daughter’s ungodly choices, we have grieved for the loss of our close family relationships, for our witness in our community and family, over the eventual consequences of her decisions, and even grieved that God would allow this to happen.

Our joy, peace, energy, and focus have been drained and replaced with despair, anger, fatigue and distractedness. We have been plagued by questions. How could this happen? What should we do? What would influence her? How should we respond? Our close family was thrown into crisis; joy turned to sorrow, and lies twisted truth. The parable of the prodigal son has become a real and personal journey with a precious, yet prodigal, daughter.

At one point in this heavy journey, I had a mental picture of us facing our prodigal daughter, she standing with her back to us. We were pleading and begging for her to turn around, listen to God’s Word, and recognize the lies. Then the focus shifted and God was standing behind me, my back turned to Him, and He was calling me to turn around and to recognize the lies. God was trying to get my attention while I was trying to get my daughter’s attention. Her lies were different from mine, but nonetheless I had also been ensnared by lies. God was pleading with me to recognize and accept His truth in my own life.

God’s truth needs to be sorted from the enemy’s lies.

I cannot allow my daughter’s actions to define me, but I can, through God’s help, allow them to refine me. Through godly counsel and His Word, the truth is being sifted from the enemy’s subtle and pervasive lies. The refinement process is not complete, but I have identified, examined, and discarded the following lies:

Lie #1: What if?

The enemy loves to get us into the “what if” or blame game. What if I had been more persuasive? What if I had counseled her with more studied words? What if I had been more discerning? What if I had just been a better mom? I was consumed with analyzing every nuance over the past years, reviewing my interactions, and questioning my role as both mother and wife.

My analytical thoughts became paralyzing and I spiraled downward into a pit of remorse and inadequacy. Slowly through the slime, I began to see that it is not all about me. My eloquence or lack of it, my parenting skills or lack of them, will not ultimately change a heart. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. I can be obedient to God’s direction. I can do the best I can in parenting and counseling. But the ultimate work is God’s. My pleas will not bring a prodigal into right thinking, right living, or right decisions.

Our daughter made this choice in spite of Scripture, godly models, and counsel, and she will also reap the consequences of her choice. Ezekiel 18:20 reminds us that “…the son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.” I can neither accept the blame nor take the credit. The “what ifs” must cease because they are not from God.

Lie #2: If you parent well enough, your child will not make ungodly choices.

When my daughter turned away from her firm foundation, I questioned how this could happen to my family. Subconsciously and incorrectly, I presumed that Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” guaranteed a child’s godly choices. The Lord showed me, through my own heartache, that I have wrongly judged others and their parenting ability. I thought if someone had a child not walking with the Lord, it was always a direct reflection on their parenting skills. Now on the other side with a wayward daughter, I realize the lie and repent of my judgment of others. Godly parenting does not guarantee a godly child.

Lie #3: My prodigal adult child disqualifies me for ministry.

One of the qualifications listed in 1 Tim. 3:4 for an overseer is to “manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” This does not refer to adult children. But Satan wants to fuel our insecurities, have us focus on our inadequacies, and cripple our ministries. Instead of stepping out of ministry, we should step up to be used by God. The more open and transparent we are in our parenting journey, the more dependent we are on Him for strength, and the more opportunities there will be for us to minister.

During the painful times of answering concerned inquires about our daughter, has emerged a new openness for those sharing similar burdens. One embarrassing instance of addressing pointed questions at a neighborhood party resulted in a phenomenal opportunity to share God’s truth. Leadership is not about being perfect individuals. It is about being humbly obedient and available. Transparency and vulnerability can make us better servant ministers.

Lie #4: God is powerless to intervene.

Somewhere in this extended battle, I crossed the line from believing God would not act to believing God could not act. I fell prey to the lie that God could not change our daughter’s mind or way. My personal systematic theology had me spinning in circles around God’s sovereignty and the free will of man. The Lord had chosen to not answer my fervent prayers to radically intervene in our daughter’s life. Since faith and hope are intricately entwined, I was hopeless.

My view of God was too small. I do not understand how God’s sovereignty and free will work, but I have become convinced that God is so much bigger than we can ever imagine. He can and will intervene if He so chooses. This mom needs to trust more, worry less, and stop trying to figure everything out. He is God and I am not! My God, our God, is a God of hope that fills us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him (Rom. 15:13), and He is more than able to do great things.

This mother’s journey in parenting a prodigal is far from over. The hurt and sadness are still very real and close. But as the Lord has revealed the insidiousness of the enemy’s lies, the burden has become more manageable. Now I can focus on what I am learning and not on what my daughter should be learning. This was reiterated during a recent visit. We were scheduled to rendezvous with our precious prodigal after church.

The sermon was unexpectedly all too relevant: “Grace Demands a Death.” The pastor pointed out that if we are to extend grace, as Christ did, we must also experience death. As parents, we need to die to our dreams, our desires, and our expectations for our children. We need to love them unconditionally, expecting nothing in return. Still stirred from this poignant message, we exited the church building and saw our daughter standing on the far side of the parking lot.

My husband ran to our cold, stiff daughter, standing sullenly by the car, and wrapped her in a warm, loving hug. That was our best visit to date! My hope has been renewed; He is restoring my soul. Like Habakkuk, I will wait and keep watch from the ramparts to see what the Lord will do. God is in control and He loves us and our prodigals dearly.

The author has decided to write anonymously to protect her daughter’s privacy.

Being Heirs Together of the Grace of Life

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. 1 Peter 3:7

This morning as I opened my Bible in the wee morning hours to commune with my Savior, I distinctly felt a wall of emotion, a cloud of turmoil, disturbing thoughts and anguish keeping me back from my usual abiding in Christ and the flow of His love and grace in and around and about me. Yes, I had received some very disturbing news last night about a fellow Christian in dire straits, and I had been praying for them, but this was not the cause of my consternation. It was because my husband and I had a small dispute, nothing big, but big enough to hinder my prayers. Yes, folks, it doesn’t take much, but this wonderful relationship we have with our spouse is very important to our God, to the point that if it is not taken care of, our prayers will be hindered. Immediately, I turned my thoughts and prayers to my Father asking Him to take care of the situation and it was not long after, that healing came and once again we were “heirs together of the grace of life”… together, in oneness with each other and God.

This relationship between husband and wife is the building block of the family. It needs to be built firmly on the Rock. Our children need desperately to see the oneness and strong bond of their parents. I have seen children favoring one parent over the other and actually manipulating one parent to the detriment of their marriage. Once the parents see this and reestablish their relationship and stand firm, the child, who is probably a young adult by now, may throw a fit and may even become a prodigal. In one instance I am familiar with, the parents are facing a terrible battle with their prodigal, but in standing together they are now “heirs together of the grace of life” and the promise is that their prayers will not be hindered!

In my opening scripture Peter was speaking to husbands to honor their wives in the same way that the wives were to honor their husbands. He actually spent a little more time admonishing the wives. Why is it that we have the same problems now that they had back then? Men and women think differently, our Creator made us this way for a purpose. Together we can be a wonderful testimony of God’s love, but obviously we all have to strive for that perfect bond of peace. So as Peter thought it was necessary to “stir you up by putting you in remembrance…” 2 Peter 1:13, we do ourselves good to call ourselves into remembrance to be diligent in our walk and do everything we can not to hinder our prayers or grieve the Holy Spirit, especially in our marriages.

And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:30-5:1

Eye Salve

My husband shared a story out of Leslie Vernick’s book “How to Find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World” for Bible this morning. I will share her story with you and then my thoughts about how I think it relates to prodigals.

Leslie tells how her daughter went to get an eye check up on the advice of her school teacher. She was not able to see any letters on the wall chart until the doctor put some glasses on her, and then she could easily read it. Her daughter was delighted that now she could see and loved her glasses that enabled her to see. Leslie writes, “God tells us that we need spiritual lenses in order to correct our perspective and to see what really brings us lasting joy in life. He tells us that, without these spiritual lenses, we are blind and prone to being deceived and mislead.”

I would imagine that the same thoughts are crossing your minds that crossed mine. My prodigal cannot see. He is blind. He needs spiritual glasses. He needs eye salve that he might see.

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Revelation 3:18

From Barnes Commentary, “The word “eye-salve” – kollourion (NT:2854) – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is a diminutive from kollura (NT:2854) – collyra-a coarse bread or cake, and means properly a small cake or cracknel. It is applied to eye-salve as resembling such a cake, and refers to a medicament prepared for sore or weak eyes. It was compounded of various substances supposed to have a healing quality.”

It is interesting to picture Jesus here spitting on the ground and making an ointment out of clay to put on the eyes of the blind man. Yet, there were other times when He healed the blind by touching them or just speaking:
“And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.” Matthew 20:32-34

Back to Barnes…”The idea here is that the grace of the gospel enables people who were before blind to see clearly the character of God, the beauty of the way of salvation, the loveliness of the person and work of Christ.”

Then Barnes refers to Ephesians 1:18 and as I read the commentary to this scripture I was compelled to share it with you because this explains what we all long for in ourselves and especially for our prodigals.

“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Ephesians 1:18

“The eye is the instrument by which we see; and in like manner the understanding is that by which we perceive truth. The idea here is, that Paul not only wished their “hearts” to be right, but he wished their “understanding” to be right also. Religion has much to do in enlightening the mind. Indeed, its effect there is not less striking and decisive than it is on the heart. The understanding has been blinded by sin. The views which people entertain of themselves and of God are narrow and wrong. The understanding is enfeebled and perverted by the practice of sin. It is limited in its operations by the necessity of the case, and by the impossibility of fully comprehending the great truths which pertain to the divine administration. One of the first effects of true religion is on the understanding. It enlarges its views of truth; gives it more exalted conceptions of God; corrects its errors; raises it up toward the great Fountain of love. And nowhere is the effect of the true religion more apparent than in shedding light on the intellect of the world, and restoring the weak and perverted mind to a just view of the proportion of things, and to the true knowledge of God.”

Isn’t this what we desire for our prodigals? Let’s together pray that our heavenly Father will restore right understanding to our prodigals. That Jesus will touch the eyes of their minds that they will see truth as never before, and in seeing truth will come to repentance and raise their eyes to the great Fountain of love and grace and mercy, the most high King of all heaven and earth. He will make the crooked places straight! He will make the blind to see!

photo by Jeremy