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A Parent's Aching Heart
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By Nancy Canwell

     Ramona Smiers
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

I could see the pain in Rob’s* eyes. The wear-and-tear of his son’s decision weighed him down as though he were carrying a heavy load. His son had walked away from both God and the church.

Matt had grown up in the church. He had been a smiling, innocent cradle roll attendee who sang enthusiastically about Zacchaeus being a wee little man. He had attended an Adventist grade school and happily participated in spiritual activities. But then tragedy struck. When he was thirteen, his best friend, Caleb, was killed in an accident. Suddenly Matt wanted nothing more to do with a God who would let such a horrible thing happen.

“He became very angry,” Rob told me, “not only at God, but also at his family. He started fights with his brother and disrespected his mother. By the time he got to Academy, he was choosing the wrong kind of friends. After graduation he moved into an apartment with some guys who introduced him to drinking, drugs, and crime.”

Rob continued, “I was aching to be with my son. But he never came home to visit. Every Friday I would try to visit him, but one of two things always happened: I would be met with the strong smell of marijuana coming from inside and no one would answer, or Matt would open the door and say, ‘I’m busy,’ and brush right past me. Any news about my son came through stories I’d hear from other people—how he was partying and in trouble with the law.”

What was a father to do? There was nothing left to do but pray. Pray that God would soften his son’s heart and bring him home.

“I prayed continuously,” Rob told me. “I prayed for eight long years!”

And then one night it happened. After Matt and his friends had committed a crime, the police raided their apartment. Matt landed in jail. And it was while he was sitting there that he understood how far he’d gone wrong. He realized that, just like the prodigal son, he was feeding the pigs! When his dad visited him the next day, he found one very broken young man.

“Dad, can I come home and straighten up my life?” he asked.

A father’s prayer had finally been answered!

If you’re praying for a daughter or son who has left God and the church, never give up. Keep praying! God hears the prayers of your aching heart. Remember, your child was God’s before he or she was yours. As your child’s Heavenly Parent, God will do everything within His power to save him or her. In fact, God sent His only Son in order to save your son or daughter.

Prayer Focus: That we become praying parents for our lost daughters and sons. That we daily commit them to God, trusting Him to work on their hearts and minds so they will return home.

Recommended Resource: “An Indescribable Welcome Home: Six stories about reaching across to missing members.”
View the Bible Study Guide and Leader’s Guide at AdventSource.

*Names have been changed.