A Prayer For The Father Of A Wandering Son
It’s difficult to watch your son’s heart grow cold toward the beauty of God’s grace. No Father ever walks with his son through formative years imagining the day when he looks you in the eye and says, “I’m not sure I want this for my life. Your ways aren’t my ways.” Yet for some, the days comes when the conversation you dread echoes in your ears and your own heartbeat is a dull thudding behind your eyes.
I’ve sat there. I’ve felt my fingers tighten against each other as I laboured to keep my breathing steady. I’ve seen the tears roll down my wife’s cheek as the pain bubbled over. I’ve felt the sting of words that cut deeper than maybe they were intended. I’ve felt the self-doubt close in like the night. I’ve sat there.
This is the boy I prayed with while he lay with tired eyes, then prayed over as he lay asleep. This is the boy I comforted as he voiced his fears of living up to a family of men who were preachers of the gospel, and this is the boy who has become a man and has decided to wander his own path. I still pray for him, though now I no longer have the opportunity to sit on the side of his bed as I do. Instead, it is as my wife and I lay side by side at the close of each day, pleading with the Father for his mercy and grace to extend beyond the barriers of a cold heart.
My prayers will not cease for my boy, but in recent months, I’ve had opportunity to sit with other Fathers—Fathers of wandering sons—and pray with them. This is my prayer for men like me.
Father, give these men eyes to see themselves as you see them—blood-bought vessels of mercy who have tasted salvation on the merit of your grace in Christ, not their performance as a Father. Protect them from the evil one’s lies that will use this pain as a means to turn their eyes inward and away from their only boast. No matter the sting of disappointment or regret, fill these men with the fullness of their acceptance in your presence.
Lord, grant them patience. Protect them from the task-master of immediacy and help them see your sovereign wisdom in all things, even in this dark valley. Give them a heart to accept that our ‘today’ and your ‘today’ use a different scale, and that your tomorrow is worth waiting on with eager joy.
Pour out grace on these hurting men in such abundance that it spills onto all around them. In the midst of their fears, let grace be the flavour of their speech and actions, not only toward their sons, but to their wives who carry heavy burdens also. As Fathers who must continue to speak truth, let the words flow from a heart that mirrors the grace you have shown to us in Christ.
Soften these men in their sensitivities to their wives. As they carry their own pain, strengthen them to bear the weight of their wife’s pain also. Give them the grace to love and serve their wife in the manner in which our Groom loved and served us as he gave his own life for his bride. Rather than withdraw, let these men discover the joy of servanthood in their marriage.
Then dispel the fear with boldness. Implant a confidence in the power of the gospel to accomplish great things. Fill them with faith, feeble as it may feel, that you are greater than the rebellion of our hearts, and that your Word will accomplish was it was sent out to achieve. That the wanderer is not beyond your reach.
Give a discerning spirit to know when to hold tight, and when to let go. Give these men the ability to understand the times of their own family, the conviction to hold firm when required, and the strength to watch their son walk away should that be required also. Let them comprehend your long arm that is mighty to save, and your comforting arm which is ready to embrace the outcast and rebel.
Where hard words have already been said, where empty tables are reminders of what once was, I pray that what has been fractured will be made new. Lord, tend to the wounded and weary. Bind up the broken, give strength to the lame, and give sight to the blind. Lord, crush pride, wherever it may be found, and grant humility to whom it is needed.
And finally, we pray for the prodigal to come home. Lord, please rescue the lost, call the sinner to repentance, raise the dead. In your severe kindness, lead these boys to the sty of their deliverance. Even if the filth of this world is the vehicle of your grace, Lord show your mercy, and lead these wandering boys home.