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)

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Continue reading this reblogged post here.

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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

A Praying Momma ~ T. Suzanne Eller

This is a wonderfully encouraging article for parents of prodigals…keep on praying!

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

When he first started drinking, she and her husband weren’t sure what to do. Then he was arrested. Soon after they discovered he was using drugs. For the first time in her life, Mickey felt helpless as a mom.

Mickey’s son was raised in church and he once served as a leader in his youth group. Their home was a safe place where faith was lived out. And yet her son continued to spiral downward, no matter what they did. The night he broke into their small business and emptied the cash register was the bleakest night of all.

Mickey looked around the church and realized there were other moms with similar struggles. She started a Prodigal Prayer Group that met on Tuesday nights. They prayed one year, two years and then three.

Mickey saw others’ children come back to their faith, but her prayers for her own son seemed to be going nowhere. Nonetheless, she continued to show up, joining in strength and support with other praying mommas.

I wish my sweet friend had a video camera recording her son through those dark days. I wish she could have seen Austin rediscover his faith, overcome his addictions, and see him grow into the godly man he is today.

But the reality is that Mickey didn’t have a video camera. All she had was her faith. Faith that was tested over and over.

She was aware of the realities of her son’s choices, but she continued to pray. She continued to believe. She had to make hard choices like setting boundaries. She had to listen to other moms whose children were not straying and who did not understand her struggle.

Mickey says that during that time she began to see Austin through the eyes of faith. She knew that it wasn’t in her power to change her son, but that God could be her source of strength as she stayed the course.

We often say we would do anything for our children. If someone had told Mickey that it would take years of praying and believing like she did without seeing any sign of change, I wondered would she still do it? Mickey says yes, she would.

Maybe you identify with my friend. You raised your son or daughter with love. You provided a safe place. You showed them Jesus, and yet somehow they lost their way. Today I want to encourage you. The Father loves you and your child. In Jesus’ story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32, NIV) we see a son who has hit rock bottom. He finally decides to go home and this is the reaction of his father:

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ 

But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” (verses 20-24)

Jesus told this story to illustrate the love of the Heavenly Father. The beauty of a praying momma is not lost in the chaos of your child’s choices. You are not alone as you pray, because He’s waiting, just as you are, to welcome your child in His embrace.

Dear Father, thank You that You love my child even more than I. I am not alone. You are with me. Walk with me today. Give me Your strength. Give me renewed hope and eyes of faith. In Jesus’ powerful, precious Name, Amen.

View this complete article at Proverbs 31 Ministries

31 Days ~ How Long?

Day 31 ~ How Long? 
This  is the last day of the 31 Days of blogging with all the incredible bloggers out there. I’m going to leave you readers some links to older posts that have been really helpful to me and hopefully will encourage you. A special thanks to James Banks who wrote the wonderful book of prayers, “Prayers for Prodigals” that I have been reading through day by day, and that has inspired so much of this writing…
How long, O Lord, how long?” Psalms 6:3Some of you are just starting out on this journey. I think that is the hardest of all. When it all comes crashing down on you and the pain is excruciating and the nightmare you never dreamed would happen to you is now your life…It’s as if someone has died and you will experience the same stages of grief. I found this very helpful during that time…
As time goes by in our loneliness we hear of others who have perhaps suffered a greater loss than our own and we realize that in order to heal we need to reach out and help others…
After a while we think, “I don’t want this to last for years and years…how can I bear this…how long, Father, how long?”We may even be tempted to take the battle into our own hands…The Temptation to Take the Battle into Our Own Hands

How long, O Lord, how long? Is a phrase we will utter many times no matter how long it takes, but in the meantime God is not only working in our prodigal but also in us…

“Only God knows the end of the story for our prodigal. Every once in awhile we get a glimmer of hope that our son will fully return to God. Many times I’ve wished I could just read the final chapter; then perhaps I’d sleep better at night. But we are learning to walk by faith, one day at a time. God is sovereign, and we have learned much about His grace, His patience, and His love that we probably would not have learned otherwise.”

Praying today that we might comfort one another no matter where we are in this journey. We as parents are learning to TRUST and have FAITH in a way that transcends human understanding. Reach out and encourage someone today with the comfort you have received from the Lord. It is His way of bringing us closer to Him and giving us healing and peace.
Praying for our prodigals that no matter where they are in their journey that they will see Jesus. Father, take the blinders off their eyes that they might see You today. And we thank you and praise you for the work You alone can do in their lives.

31 Days ~ Strength to Go On

Day 30 ~ Strength to Go On

Sharing again from James Banks Prayers for Prodigals

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3: 17-18
“I will remind myself of this, Lord. It’s always good to praise you, regardless of how I feel at the moment.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (I Chronicles 16:25)
I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God” (Habakkuk 3:18), regardless of my external circumstances on any given day. And why not?
Yes, times are difficult with my child. She’s running from me and from you.
My heart aches. I long to take her in my arms and protect her from harm, if only she would have it.
Then I am reminded of your Word and your promise:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion” (Isaiah 30:18).
There’s a lot of meaning in that one word, yet. You know how I feel, don’t you?
Not only about my daughter. About the whole human race.
That’s why you came, why you sent your one and only son: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Not only do you understand, you’ve faced our rebellion with a heart that feels with more “depth” than I could ever know. (Romans 11:33)
I praise you for that and will wait for you, because “since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4). ~ James Banks

31 Days ~ Sin of the Parents

Day 29 ~ Sin of the Parents

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1-2A very interesting and encouraging message today from James Banks…”God promises in His Word that “the son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20). But as the disciples’ question demonstrated, many in Jesus’ day believed that sickness was the direct result of sin either in the life of the one who was ill or his parents.

Jesus’ response to the disciples speaks volumes: “Neither the man nor his parents sinned…but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3) While the disciples were busy looking for sin and someone to blame, Jesus saw an opportunity to show the greatness and the love of God. Sometimes the parents of prodigals may find themselves thinking like the disciples. We look for someone to blame, and don’t look very far. More than one parent of a prodigal son or daughter has found themselves asking, “Is God punishing me through my child for something I did in the past?” Fortunately, Jesus’ response to the disciples and God’s promise through Ezekiel indicate that the answer to that question is an emphatic, “No.”God’s promise through Ezekiel makes it clear that each of us must take responsibility for our own actions. We cannot blame parents or genetics for our sins. We also cannot blame ourselves for the sinful choices of a son or daughter. Still, that’s not always easy.There have been times when I’ve heard my parents’ words coming out of my mouth when I talk to my children (the words, “Because I said so!” come to mind.) I’ve also heard the words I spoke to my parents coming out of my children’s mouths. When those words are hurtful, I’ve caught my self thinking, “This sounds too familiar. Is my past coming back to haunt me? Is God judging me for my own rebellion by giving me a rebellious child? Is this my payback?”

Thankfully, God doesn’t see it that way. His promise is worth repeating and taking to heart: “The son will not share the guilt of the father.” I take great comfort in that, because I don’t want my children to bear the burden of things I did long ago. It’s also good to know that God isn’t holding them against me.

The spiritual blindness in our children’s lives is not caused by sins of the parents, but by sin that is part of the fallen nature we all share, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3;23). That sin has consequences, and we must repent of it and leave it at the foot of the cross. But before that can happen for our prodigal children, Jesus must open their eyes.

It’s interesting that Jesus came of his own initiative to the man who was blind from birth. The man didn’t ask for Jesus’ help. Jesus sought him out. He stopped and looked the man in his sightless eyes.

Jesus is also able to encounter our children when they are not looking for Him. God has ways of reaching our children that we’ve never thought of. Jesus loves out prodigal kids and wants to display the work of God in their lives, no matter what they’ve done. “God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Jesus died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus wants to touch our children and set them free, so they will become witnesses to the Father’s kindness and power and one day love others into the kingdom.”

I hope this blesses you today as it did me…

Jesus healing Bartimaeus by Eustache Le Sueur

31 Days ~ Despise Not These Little Ones

Day 27 ~ Despise Not These Little Ones

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10

 From Prayers for Prodigals by James Banks…
“Your word says that you send your angels to do your “bidding“, Father (Psalms 103:20).
Thank you for giving our children angels who “always behold” your face.
Thank you for all of the times you’ve looked after my child when I could not: the near misses,the fraction-of-a-second, happened-too-fast-for-me-to-react moments when your angel intervened.
My child needs the protection of your angels now, Lord.
You’ve said that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them (Psalms 34:7).
Because I “know what it is to fear” you (2 Corinthians 5:11) with reverence, awe, and love, I ask that you deliver my son.
Your word tells me about what you’ve done for those you call your own: “In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them” (Isaiah 63:9).
Redeem my son, Lord! Let him be a joy to you and to all of heaven, because “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
I don’t know how you will do it, but I ask you to help his open his heart to you.” ~ James Banks
Father, I pray for each and every prodigal represented here today by Godly parents who fear you and ask that You would deliver these children from the enemy of their souls.
And we will watch and pray and wait, and say with the angels, “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Revelation 7:11-12
The Guardian Angel  Pietro Da Cortona (Barrettini).

31 Days ~ Joy in the Presence of the Angels

Day 26 ~ Joy in the Presence of the Angels
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.” Luke 15:10What a beautiful thought this morning! I visualize the heavenlies full of rejoicing magnificence. And it happens every day…every day somewhere there are those that fall on their knees in repentance. What joy it must bring!
“I ask that he will make the angels sing, Father.
I pray he will turn from his past and run with an open heart and mind to you!

I can imagine the joy.
My joy here on earth would only be part of a much larger celebration, because “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10)
Your word tells of “thousands upon thousands of angels” joyfully praising you (Hebrews 12:22), and so they should!
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelations 4:11)
You created my son and gave him life.
You long for him with an everlasting love.
You loved him so much that you gave your “one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
No wonder the angels sing when one sinner repents!” ~ James Banks

Praying today that our sons and daughters will know the joy of repentance. Praying that our prodigals will give their hearts to the Lord soon. Rejoicing today for every prodigal that repents this very day and the joy that they bring to all around them.

Praying too, Father, that Your joy, Your peace that passes all understanding will keep the minds and hearts of all the parents as they wait to see their prodigals return.

31 Days ~ About Shame

Day 24 ~ Shame Off Her
This is an interesting title for today. Being a little slow when it comes to understanding things, like jokes and puns, etc. I had to think twice (three times actually), before I realized that James was turning the term, “Shame on her”, around almost as a command to take the “Shame off her”.

Truthfully, I have never really prayed that before. I have prayed for a hedge of protection for our prodigals, that God would keep them from evil, etc., but today I will pray in a different way.

As the scripture says, “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:11

Quoting James Banks

“I pray you will move soon in her life to turn her heart from the sin back to you.

Let her hear your Spirit speaking to her, “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22)

Let the fog clear and a bright new morning break!

Even when we rebel against you, you long for us to give our hearts to you.

When we do, you take our sins completely away.

You clothe us with “garments of salvation” and “a robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10)

You present us holy in your sight, “without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).

You have said, “You will forget the shame of your youth” (Isaiah 54:4).

You tell us you will remember our sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34).

Take the shame of my daughter, Lord Jesus! Just as you have for me.”

I know she has a choice to make and I pray she will make it soon and “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I pray she will choose you!” ~ James Banks

We as parents may also be feeling shame, but why then would the promise be that we would not be ashamed. I think we need to rethink this and realize that our children are God’s and we are given a time with them to nurture and bring them up, but then God has to deal with their hearts in His way. Anything that is not right in their hearts, He will make right in His time and in His way. That is why it is so important to “Let go and let God do the work”. We need to trust Him, and not be ashamed, but magnify the fact that we have a Great Shepherd who cares about each lost sheep and seeks to find them and bring them home. Praise Him for He is Mighty to save!

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

31 Days ~ Called Out of Darkness

Day 23 ~ Called Out of Darkness

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:” 1 Peter 2:9

Called out of darkness…how many of you were called out of darkness?

From the concordance darkness means: of night darkness; of darkened eyesight or blindness; of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell; persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway.

I once was lost…and now I’m found…

I once was blind, but now I see…

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.” Psalms 40:2

If I had Christian parents they would have been devastated, but they also would have rejoiced at what Jesus has done in my life. I don’t know that a single prayer was uttered for me during this time of darkness, but Jesus called me out of it.

Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 3:7

Father, you are very aware of what our prodigals are doing right now. For from the beginning of time men turn away from you and follow darkness. Father, right now, our children are living in darkness, making horrendously horrible choices that will effect their lives forever. We cry out to you, Father, for we of ourselves can do nothing. Please bring them out of the miry pit, the ungodliness, the immorality, this horrible wretched darkness that holds sway over them and causes such blindness. Father, we cry out to you today, please call them out of darkness into your marvelous light.

Quoting James Banks
“I ask for your light to fall on this path and lead him home.

Let him see your light from the distance and be drawn to you.

Even though now he sits in darkness, I ask that you will be his light.(Micah 7:8)

I praise you that there is no darkness so black that you can not show him the way out of it.

Bring him to the place where he can say, “You are my lamp, O Lord the LORD turns my darkness to light” (2 Samuel 22:29)” ~ James Banks

And Father…I pray for none of this middle of the road stuff. I pray when our prodigals come to their senses and see your Light…when they truly give their hearts and lives to Jesus, that there will be no turning back. That they will put the past behind them and walk forward…the past immorality, drugs, rock music…make it absolutely abhorrent to them.

Thank you, Jesus, for what you have done in my life, I know without a doubt that you can do it in any life. And I especially ask today, that you would visit the suffering parents. Please take them in your arms. Fill them with your peace, hold them tight so that they know you are with them in their grief. Give them a knowing that you are at work in the hearts of those they love and hold most dear, right now as we are praying.

Forgive us all, Father, for we are so prone to wander, so prone to be unbelieving and faithless.

We are called to show forth your praises, even the sacrifice of praise…

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15