The convergence of a “Fulfilling Family” series we are presently in and Memorial Day have inspired me to encourage us all to “Prodigal Praying.” How so? My next “subject” in the family series is my oldest brother “Chiz” (Charles), who was my hero growing up, the best older-brother-protector and example of Christ that a younger brother could ever have. And then, following graduation from high school, Chiz enlisted in the Marine Corps and served two years in Vietnam, returning with an honorable discharge and Purple Heart for a shrapnel wound he suffered from a grenade.
But Chiz suffered a much deeper wound while there that he’s never been willing to talk about, which has led him on a downward spiral away from family and faith every since. Twenty-three years ago, Chiz officially declared himself an atheist and cut off all contact with his family.
Like the prodigal in Jesus’ parable, Chiz “set off for a distant county” — but from which he has never really returned (even though he came back from Vietnam, it never left him).
Having just observed Memorial Day, Chiz represents many who “lost their lives” — whether literally in a physical way, or mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
Like the Apostle Paul, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people (brother), those of my own race (family)” (Romans 9:2-3). So what is one to do with so great a “shared wound”? Fortunately, there is hope in Jesus Christ — and that is the only source of hope we have.
The writer of Proverbs says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it (or “will return to it” /22:6). Based on this promise and Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8 that he told his disciples “to show them that they should always pray and not give up” — I pray “unceasingly” for my brother Chiz. This is “prodigal praying” — praying for the prodigal, and with prodigal (lavish) persistence. And then he concludes the parable by saying, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” I think this question applies as much or more to those who are praying for prodigals, as it does to the prodigals themselves. Will we still be “prodigally” praying when Jesus returns, or with our last breath (whichever comes first)?
Additional “prodigal praying” is offered by Jesus Himself (Romans 8:34) and the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), who are joined with us in interceding on and around the throne in Heaven (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4). The writer of Hebrews then encourages us to remember this cloud of witnesses and “fix our eyes on Jesus” … “so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:2-3).
Knowing that we are just one part of a whole heavenly host praying for prodigals is truly “prodigal praying.” I pray that you are part of “prodigal praying” as well.
Pastor Jon L. Pomeroy can be reached at Sandpoint Church of God, 221 S. Division Ave., Sandpoint; by calling 208-263-6629; or by email at info@sandpointchurchofGod.org.