A prodigal, a rebel, or a wayward child breaks a parent’s heart like no other challenge. While little ones challenge us physically and emotionally, bigger kids toss in the physiological, mental, and spiritual components. The gone astray young adult’s path is not  smooth, seamless, or peaceful. And neither is the parent’s.

But in all the unexpectedness of life, I have discovered, God is faithful. And…as crazy as it sounds, the Lord has perfectly chosen and equipped you (and me) to be our child’s parent.

Is your child a  tween, teen, or young adult? Are you perplexed by the issues your kids are facing or by things in which they are choosing to participate? (I have had my share of surprises.) When your formerly obedient child begins to change the rules and do the unexpected, you are naturally puzzled. Rather than your child walking the expected road now he is on a prodigal path. How can it be?

There is a prayer I pray and also share with many moms and dads in my parenting courses. For me, God has used this prayer to lift me out of the pit and place me back in the battle.

The battle for our kids is fought on our knees.

At times I feel as if I want to shake my fist in anger at my child, at the world, or even at God…the Lord has me fold my hands instead. When I want to wring my hands in despair, the Lord reminds me to fold them instead.

If you are sitting in the muck of disappointment, despair, or depression due to your young person’s choices, Psalm 118 turned into a  prayer will encourage and empower you to move forward and trust God in the difficult circumstances.

While hurting deeply due to my child’s choices, it took every once of strength I had to get out of bed. So I began repeating, “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

That worked for a bit. Then, I felt— annoyed. I was not rejoicing in the day and I wasn’t glad about it.

Then God moved me to read Psalm 118 in its entirety. The psalmist isn’t having a worship and praise fest. He is in the middle of a battle. A fight that looks mighty bleak. He is preemptively praising, expecting deliverance and a victory.

Now this is a psalm that speaks to my heart and meets me in my circumstances. I pray this helps you, if you are in a difficult spot with your child.

A Parent’s Prayer for the Prodigal Psalm 118 

Lord God, I give you thanks God, you are good and your loves endures forever for me and (insert you child’s name). Let my whole family say,, your love endures forever. You know I am in anguish, I am crying out to you, Lord. Answer me, set me free, set my child free. I know you are with me. I know you are with my child. I will not be afraid! You are my helper. I will look in triumph at (insert the issue here). I take refuge in you. I trust you. I am surrounded on every side. My child is surrounded on every side. But you will cut  (the concern) off. I have been pushed back, about to fall but you Lord are my strength, my song, my salvation. You have done and will do mighty things! I will NOT die, my child will not die. I will proclaim what you have done!  I will give you thanks. This is the day you have made and I will give thanks and be glad in it. Save my child. Shine your light upon this family. I give you thanks. Your love endures forever. Amen

Rather than shaking our fist in anger wringing our hands in despair, let’s confidently fold them in hope. And remember, we (and our young person) are loved by our good and great God. The things we do or don’t do won’t make God love us (or our prodigal) any more or any less.

Hang in there. God is with you. He is with me. He promises us that He is and will be. Yes and Amen.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator and co-founder of 1Corinthians13Parenting.com, Lori's newest parenting book is available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together community on Facebook.