This week my moms found something in the parable of the Lost Son. Usually, I glaze over when this parable is mentioned. I cannot count the number of sermons and homilies I have heard on the “Prodigal Son.” My mom pointed out a four-word phrase that changed my thinking.
I wasn’t sure about rehashing this parable. For me as a parent, the story triggers questions. Will one of my children turn their back on our family? What about God are they going to walk away? Is my kid coming home tonight? Will it be my family in the news? Is my friend, son, or daughter lost? These are the nightmares I wonder about. I didn’t want to think about the Lost Son. But, I trust my moms so… Maybe I missed something…. I had to take a look. The passage that caught the moms’ attention was:
16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! [Luke 15:16-17New King James Version]
One mom pointed me to the phrase; he came to himself. To tell the truth, I don’t remember the phrase. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it discussed in a sermon. Those four words remind me that we face ourselves alone. To grow I have to come to myself.
The scripture says no one gave him anything. He’d had the money, girls, and the parties while it lasted. He finds himself starving, literally and spiritually. But when he came to himself, he was open to anything that would feed his belly and restart his life.
When we come to ourselves decisions are made. Do I chose to return to my Father or do I continue my own way? Verses 18 and 19 tell us the lost son’s decision:
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”
The lost son knew his way wasn’t working. He did not want to go back to the way he was living. He chose to return to the father’s house and ask for forgiveness.
I don’t know if you are seeing this, but right now in my family, we are praying for lost friends, sons, and daughters. We’re seeing people all around us searching for answers. Due to the pressures of the virus crisis and loss of safety in our streets our prayers are urgent.
Friends and family members are desperate. They have become numb and shrug off God, or push back with the judgment and unforgiveness. Some won’t even talk about Jesus or even God. The people we love are hurting and lost.
It is hard to know what to ask God for in these situations. I ask God for wisdom but, I don’t know what to pray for someone else. I don’t want them to be in danger or be hurt, and I still want them to know God.
My mom pointed out that we need to pray that they will start thinking about all the things that have gone on in the past. And pray that they will come to himself or herself.2 Understanding seeped into my mind. We can pray for our loved ones to “come to himself or herself.”
Only God and the person, we are praying for, know their situation the best. They are living it. If they can come to themselves they can find God for themselves. This is personal between God and the person. I can pray for them to become aware of God’s presence, but I am not involved in the conversation.
Then, my spiritually adopted mom pointed out. “The Prodigal Son only had to say he was sorry and the father showered him with everything. God is ready to give.”
Here is my takeaway, what God tells us in this parable is His role. When we hit the bottom and come to ourselves. We face what we have done and what we have become. If we recognize Jesus is with us and repent; he can move in our lives.
Here is my prayer for lost friends and family members:
Heavenly Father, my heart is broken for my friends and family. They have lost their way through the distractions of the world. Please bring them to a place where they will come to themselves. Meet them in this place that they will have the chance to choose you forever, and that you may be glorified with their life. In the name of Jesus amen! In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit amen.
Peace be with you
Notes: Statements have been changed to protect the hurting. If this inspires you, feel free to use the information and prayers. God Bless.