Archive for the ‘Prodigal Parenting’ category

Don’t Waste Your Parenting of Prodigals: You Can’t Name Them and Claim Them

August 14, 2012

Sadly, some do.  Some waste this trial. Because  a parent of a prodigal feels an excruciating fear mixed with guilt and regret, and we want our anguish gone. Yet this worst kind of pain can become the best kind of joy, if we don’t seek to escape being pressed into the cross.   This sorrow is meant to draw us into  a holy bond, to a unique and privileged place where we grasp the Father’s heart as He gasped in pain and gathered  Himself into a fetal position just the way we do when we pray for our lost sons and daughters when we know the danger they are in and we would do anything, go anywhere, oh, we would die in their place if we could, if we could only save them from the world of hurt they are facing if they continue in the way they are  going. The way  that we know will ultimately lead to eternal death and unending torment.

I prayed fervently like this for a prodigal once, when they were suicidally depressed and without God, and despairing, without any hope in this world. Oh, it was a terrible place but it was still filled with a special intimacy with the Father, and I am thankful to say that God reached out and grasped my own prodigal’s hand and snatched them like a brand from the fire.  I am so thankful this one is eternally safe, but I so miss that intense time of fellowship with the Father when I prayed this way.

This ex-prodigal is no longer languishing in the fire,  but I would still invite prayer for them, because sadly they are still a bit of a ” flickering flame He will not snuff out.” Oh, how we wait for Him to “lead justice to victory”, in this child’s life now, as this one still fights some very ugly thoughts, battles demonic strongholds —  and the greatest hindrance to their victory  is the magical thinking of Charismania that formed their spirituality.  They were brought up to think that if they prayed the right Prayer Formula (or had some SuperApostle pray it  for them!) every hurt would be instantly healed, and all their terrible suffering would go away.  And we taught them these answers to prayers  are owed them by the rules — all those  Scriptures that guarantee  blessings for those who are good and righteous and give it all away, and are utterly abandoned to God.

But it is presumption for us to pray this way and to assume the prerogatives of God — to ‘call out things that are not, as though

Cover of "The Power of Your Words"

they were’. The arrogance of this kind of prayer is rebuked by the Scriptures, “Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?” (Isaiah 45:11) This kind of repetitive and demanding,’naming and claiming’ prayer  is praying as the Shamans and the pagans pray, it is not prayer in the name of Jesus, which is prayer in all things consumed and subsumed by the Holy will of God, the only wise God, who sovereignly does as He pleases.

And our answer to the mysteries of the sovereign will of God does not rest in us raising ourselves to the level of God, and arrogating powers of creation and redemption that belong to Him alone. We cannot possibly create faith in prodigals by ‘naming it and claiming it’, or ‘speaking it into existence’. To presumptuously do that is to put faith in our faith — it is not faith in God, and it is idolatry.  Thus we blaspheme God, and miss one of the sweetest blessings given to God’s children, that of the fellowship of His suffering, that suffering  that Abraham  knew most excruciatingly, when he in faith laid his son on the altar. And the agony of Abraham’s hope is described here:

“…as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” ( Romans 4:17-18)

It is said of Abraham that he was a ‘friend of God.’ When we look to his example, and wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives,  we lay down  in his same choice place —  close to God’s own heart.   We would miss that hidden blessing  if  we choose instead to make ourselves ‘little gods’ and take things out of His hands. So don’t waste those prayers for your prodigals.  Don’t wave a magic wand.  Don’t speak your positive confession,  claiming them for the kingdom, and putting yourself in the place of God so you can birth them again with the power of your words — but this time to  an eternal life. It is God alone who gives life to the dead!  So don’t waste your breath like that. Instead, let your particular pain of bearing a prodigal  lead you in prayer to a place of intimate friendship with Him.

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Profound Thoughts (not mine!) on Parenting: Some Help to Grow You Up, Too

September 29, 2010

On the September 29, 2010, FamilyLife Today broadcast, “Addressing the Heart,” host Dennis Rainey gave the following list of truths and a description of the heart from Tedd and Margy Tripp’s book Instructing a Child’s Heart.  I found it one of the most  practically helpful and spiritually nourishing discussions on parenting I have ever heard.  In a nutshell,  they say, teach your children  to “beat a path to the cross.” You can listen to it here:

Ten Truths for Parents to Impress on Their Children

  • Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. It is not found in new jeans, a new iPod, a car, one’s abilities, or exciting, heart-pounding experiences.
  • We need to walk in wisdom, submit to the goodness of God’s way, and turn away from our own agendas.
  • A life of prayer and godly counsel is our desire.
  • Choices that are principled rather than popular, foregoing immediate gratification for the sake of eternal reward, are the goal.
  • God’s authority structures are a blessing. For an eight-year-old this means I can trust Mom’s decision that I need an eight o’clock bedtime. Demanding my own way when I still need parental guidance short-circuits God’s training process.
  • Loving parents are a blessing from God. Loyalty to parental instruction is an expression of gratitude to God. The majority culture offers a fraudulent counterfeit by encouraging young people to be loyal to their peers rather than their parents.
  • The heart is the wellspring of life. The things children give their hearts to the hopes, ambitions, desires, dreams, joys, and concerns will set the course of life.
  • Our hearts cannot be trusted (Jer. 17:9). Our hearts will lie to us. Children (and their parents) are easily entrapped and need to be accessible to others for counsel, instruction, and nurture.
  • Friendships are for the purpose of glorifying God, encouraging others, showing love and compassion, and gaining encouragement to do what is right.
  • There is a sowing and reaping principle in the Bible and we need to develop a harvest mentality. Children who trust and obey God find their heads crowned with wonderful blessings. Of course, this truth cuts both ways. The ten-year-old boy who is lazy about his chores will reap what he is sowing because God will not be mocked.

Adjectives That Describe the Heart

The adjectives used in the Bible to describe the heart are an eye-opener. The heart is variously described as adulterous, anguished, arrogant, astray, bitter, blameless, blighted, broken, calloused, circumcised, contrite, crushed, darkened, deadened, deceitful, deluded, devoted, disloyal, envious, evil, faint, faithful, far off, fearful, foolish, grateful, happy, hard, haughty, humble, mad, malicious, obstinate, perverse, proud, pure, rebellious, rejoicing, responsive, righteous, sick, sincere, sinful, steadfast, troubled, unfeeling, uncircumcised, upright, unsearchable, weary, wicked, wise, and wounded.

Excerpted from pages 41-42 and page 53 of Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp. Published by Shepherd Press. © 2008 by Tedd Tripp and Margy Tripp.

And for more to challenge and convict you (you can’t teach what you don’t know, right?) go listen to  one of the most encouraging teachings I’ve  heard in my twenty-two years of doing the thing, or  read the transcript here:

Lament For A Lost Child

February 16, 2010
Toy Store (1980) Size: Unknown Medium: Oil on ...

Toy Store (1980) Size: Unknown Medium: Oil on canvas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For my mother:
a child who fell
into the arms of the Father
March 14, 1999

I heard one morning my little girl
sing in the shower; and seeming so
innocent of what this meant
she sang, “Lead me not
into temptation,
but deliver me into the good stuff… yes!
into the good

stuff!” So sweet to hear,
it hurt. Drying in the sun
her bright hair
shone like a halo,
a shadow of heaven
surrounding her–
with purity so breathtaking
in beauty,
it pained my heart.
And I cried out,
Woe, Woe!
to the one who would stumble her,
Woe!

I looked for my grown-up girl on Capp Street
late one night; avoiding the vomit in the gutters.
I rejected invective and imprecatory prayer;
I remembered God’s promise to repay:
“Vengeance is mine,”– what comfort
to my beleaguered soul!
I never thought, when she too, used
to sing so sweet, that I could
so cherish justice, as I do now.
So I wouldn’t want to be you,
Mister Toy Boy
because you took her to that toy store
and made her captive to your will
with a strange fire burning in her veins.

So smug! You thought you stole
the smile from her Father’s
face. But there’s bad news for you:
He smiles at her– still!
So be careful little man, what you see–
A Jealous Lover follows you down that dark alley.
He has a millstone for your neck,
and a strong bared arm, and He is not smiling
He is filled with wrath..you will weep then,
as I do now. You will gnash your teeth, as I cry out
Woe, woe to you! And, what a wonder to me!
Toyboy– you were someone’s small son
once, too! And this mother–woe is me!
she weeps, she weeps…for whom?