Praying For Prodigals: Waiting For An Answer

But He did not answer her at all. And His disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” Matthew 15:23

When our daughter was fifteen she ran away. Katie had fallen in with the wrong crowd at school. When we grounded her and pulled her out of school to finish the final weeks of her sophomore year at home, she made other plans. One day, she ran out the door and down the street, where a friend picked her up in a car.

She was gone more than three weeks.

Those were the longest three weeks of our lives. My wife, Cari, and I looked everywhere for our daughter and sought help from law enforcement and friends. But no matter how hard we tried, it seemed like we were always a few steps behind her.

Her life was in danger, and she didn’t even know it. One day, Cari and I found ourselves sitting in the apartment of an armed drug dealer who knew some of Katie’s friends and had seen her recently. Later, we discovered she was even a passenger in a wreck where the car rolled and others were injured. She left the scene when the police arrived.

In the desperate days that followed, Cari and I learned the importance of waiting on God in prayer for those we love. We had no other choice. We had come to the end of our strength and resources and had to rely on god. The more we prayed, the more effective our search became.

It was on a Father’s Day that we found her. Cari and I were in a restaurant parking lot, on our way to dinner, when the phone rang. A waitress at another restaurant had spotted her. Katie was only three blocks away. We soon had her home, safe and sound.

God always answers prayer. The answer is either yes, no, or wait. When the answer is wait, it’s easy to confuse it with no answer at all. 

One of the more challenging stories from the Bible is Jesus’ encounter with a Canaanite woman who “came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.’” The challenging part comes in the next verse: “Jesus did not answer a word” (Matthew 15:22–23).

Why? Didn’t Jesus care about the woman and her daughter?

Hadn’t He come to “destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8)? What was Jesus doing?

Jesus’ silence speaks volumes. We have to wait on God when we pray. We may not know how He will answer, but we do know He is pleased when we pursue Him and put our hearts before Him constantly in prayer.

The Canaanite woman persisted with Jesus. When he told her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” she “came and knelt before him” and asked again. When He responded, “it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs,” that still didn’t stop her. “‘Yes, lord,’ she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’”

Then came the answer she was longing to hear: “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted” (Matthew 15:24–28). It took some time to get there. But she persisted because she loved her daughter and knew she was asking for something good for her.

The same is true when we pray for our prodigal kids. Sometimes the answers don’t come when we would hope. Things may even seem to go from bad to worse. But we have to persevere, keep believing, and keep asking.

Like the Canaanite woman, we know we are asking for a good thing when we pray for God to change our children’s hearts. We have the assurance that Jesus loves our children, because He died to make their salvation possible. When we ask Him to save them, we know we’re praying for the very thing He wants to do.

Waiting is never easy, but the end result is worth it. David put it this way: “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, loRd, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10). 

Keep seeking! Keep trusting! Keep asking! Keep praying! 

There is grace to be found in the waiting, even if it takes years for the answer to come. God’s silence is never “the final word.”

We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait. – Frederick W. Faber


A Prayer For Prodigals


Strength to Love

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:35

“I love you, O Lord, my strength” (Psalm 18:1).
I love you because you’ve “freely given” me your grace (Ephesians 1:6).
You loved me even before “the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). 
When I was completely lost, you loved me and gave me life (Ephesians 2:4–5).
You are love, Lord (1 John 4:16)! “Your love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3).
Your love compels me (2 Corinthians 5:14). I want to live in your love, Lord.
Over every virtue I want to “put on love” (Colossians 3:14). 
I want to live with faith and hope and love, “but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
“Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).
I want others to sense Your love in me before I even say a word. Especially my son.
My son is a gift and blessing from You. I love him so much, Father! 
But as much as i love him, you love him even more. Your love is perfect! Your love is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17).
He needs your love so much. 
Love through me, lord! Let Your love flow through me to draw him to You.
I know what love is because you’ve showed it to me through the way you “laid down” your life and loved me so sacrificially (1 John 3:16).
Father, give me grace to love like You do.
I ask for the strength to love him when it isn’t easy.
Help me to love him enough to be patient with him, because “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Help me to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and share your Word with him.
When he does something wrong, help me to love him enough to discipline him “because the Lord disciplines those he loves” (Hebrews 12:6).
When he does something right, let me be the first to praise him, because love “rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).
Father, You are “slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion” (Numbers 14:18).
I want to love him like that, with a love that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
I choose to love, Father, just as you chose to love me. Fill me afresh with your spirit, so that I can “do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).
Make my love “increase and overflow,” lord (1 Thessalonians 3:12), for You and for my son, that he may one day praise You for it and love You with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).


Taken from Prayers for Prodigals, © 2011 by James Banks. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 4950l.  All rights reserved.