I have been looking forward to hosting my friend Andrea as she launches her book on prodigals. A subject near to my heart, when I heard about her book I kept exhorting Andrea to finish it quickly! So many hurting parents need to know they are not alone when their child, (or in Andrea’s case, children) go wandering in the wilderness. Please tell others about her book so that broken-hearted parents might have some hope.
SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR PARENTS OF PRODIGALS
By Andrea Merrell
I never thought it could happen to me. How could my life and my family ever get so out of control? My husband and I did all the right things. We took our children to church, prayed with (and for) them daily, and raised them in a godly environment. They went to Sunday school, VBS, and Christian camps. They never listened to secular music or read secular books. They could quote Scripture verses and knew all the words to the most popular Christian songs. Born again and baptized at a very early age, they were good, upstanding, obedient kids.
What could have possibly gone wrong?
The staggering truth is: Even good kids rebel—and even good parents can end up with a prodigal.
If you’re dealing with a prodigal, you’re probably asking all the questions I did. Why, God? Why me? How could you let this happen? What am I supposed to do? Where are you?
For five long years I struggled with all the frustration, guilt, and anger associated with rebellious kids. I cried myself to sleep at night and wondered why God gave me children in the first place if I couldn’t handle parenthood. I got so caught up in the blame game that my relationship with the Lord suffered, along with everything else in my life.
But God wouldn’t let go. Even when I tried to stop praying—thinking my prayers were literally bouncing off the ceiling—He prompted me to keep praying His promises over my children daily and believe He would honor His Word. Then one day the answer came and I knew my prayers had been heard all along.
I learned many things during that terrible time, but the most important lesson is that God is faithful and His Word is true. I also learned not to ever give up on my children, no matter how bad or hopeless the situation seemed. Here is a checklist that I call a parent’s survival guide. I didn’t know all these things—or practice them—at the time, but I pray they will help you walk through the fire of adversity with peace and confidence, knowing there is always hope for the prodigal.
- Trust God with your whole heart and keep your eyes on Him—not your problem.
- Believe that His promises are true—and they are for you.
- Cast your care on Him. Lay this burden at His feet and leave it there.
- Commit your children to God.
- Pray for them daily without fail.
- Love your children unconditionally.
- Forgive your children.
- Forgive yourself.
- Don’t judge or condemn—your children or yourself.
- Listen closely to your children and make time for them.
- Respect their feelings.
- Practice tough love. Hold your children accountable for their actions.
- Be the parent—not the cool friend.
- Don’t compromise or lower your standards.
- Practice self-control. Learn to act—not react.
- Learn the early signs of drug and alcohol abuse—and what to do about it.
- Set boundaries and take charge, but be flexible.
- Don’t let your children demand
- Find Scriptures that speak specifically and directly to you. Confess them daily.
- Don’t be afraid to vent to God. Tell Him how you feel. He already knows.
- Seek godly counsel. Don’t try to carry this by yourself.
- Don’t take bad behavior personally or become angry, bitter, and resentful.
- Don’t get caught in the blame game.
- Let the peace of God rule in your heart and allow His joy to be your strength.
- No matter how tempting it might be to quit—never give up on your children.
Excerpts taken from Praying for the Prodigal, published by Straight Street Books, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Used by permission.
Andrea Merrell is Associate Editor for Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a freelance editor and has led workshops at various writers’ conferences. Andrea is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and The Gift. Her newest book, Praying for the Prodigal, releases March 25, 2015, and can be pre-ordered on Amazon To learn more, visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.
Amazon link for Murder of a Manuscript – http://amzn.to/1HlRLmy
Amazon link for Praying for the Prodigal – http://amzn.to/1BFOhK9
Amazon link for The Gift – http://amzn.to/1rLKAk0