Prodigal: The term has a decidedly negative religious connotation, doesn't it? I mean, when you hear about the Prodigal Son, you automatically think about the ungrateful child in the pigpen (Luke 15:11-32), having wasted his inheritance and ruined his life. Especially if you identify with the older brother, the one who "lived right" from the beginning, not requiring a walk on the wild side to help him realize the error of his ways.
I looked up the meaning of the word prodigal, and I was surprised by what I found. (Definition of prodigal on Dictionary.com)
One definition: giving or yielding profusely; lavish
Another: lavishly abundant; profuse
Couldn't these very definitions define the heart of God? Doesn't He give mercy profusely? Aren't His blessings lavishly abundant?
It was the other connotation of the word that rounded out the term prodigal: wastefully or recklessly extravagant.
I remember two women in scripture who were accused of wasteful extravagance, when they poured perfume on the feet of Jesus, anointing Him with their love and tears. (Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-11)
We might not all have a financial inheritance to go and waste on crazy living, as the young man did who was described in Luke 15. But every single living person in the world has a Father in heaven who loves him or her, who holds out the gift of eternal life to him or her. This free gift of eternity with our Creator is beyond any amount of money we could ever possess, and it comes to us at no cost ... FREE ... bought and paid for on our behalf by the life of Jesus Christ, who died in our place. (John 3:16)
Yet most of us have to figure it out the hard way. We go on living as if we have all the answers. We go on living as if we have forever. Wasting the precious time that God has given us here on this earth, to know and share His heart with a lost and dying world. We go on running from the loving arms of our Father, because we have bought the lie: the lie that there are many ways to God ... the lie that it doesn't matter ... the lie that we are guaranteed another tomorrow ... the lie that we know better than the One who created us.
In truth, everyone is a prodigal before our Lord gets hold of his or her heart; at least I know I was. And now many of us who are parents know the unending heartache
of watching our children run from God. And it doesn’t stop there. Many of us
have family members … fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers … aunts, uncles,
cousins … the list is unending … who are not in right relationship with the
Father. It hurts to see them struggle. It is hard to keep praying and seemingly
see no results. It isn’t about how hard or how well we pray; it’s not a thing
we can control, because the answer involves those we are praying for baring and
bowing their hearts to an unseen God, and many of these hearts are buried in
heavy layers of self-protective armor. These people who we love so much and who
seem so difficult at times are really wounded and hurting souls who just don’t
want to be hurt yet again; their “truster” is broken. Too many times, they’ve
risked vulnerability and been kicked in the teeth for their efforts.
It is tempting to want to give up, to see all that prayer as a waste of time. And that is exactly what the enemy would like for us to do. But recently, God has encouraged me in so many ways as I pray.
What does scripture say?
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people (Acts 2:17, NIV). The NKJV translation says on all flesh. In a recent message given at our church, the speaker made this observation: the text doesn't say that the Spirit will be poured only on those who know God; it says the Spirit will be poured on all people. This includes those prodigals we are praying for! We can pray that the armor that surrounds their hearts ... the lies that have gripped their thoughts ... will crack, and we can pray that the Spirit will seep into those cracks and begin to heal their wounds and woo them to the Father's heart.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded (James 4:8). Notice the order in this verse. Does it say that God will draw near after you purify yourself? Or does it say to draw near to Him, and He will come near to you ... purification to follow? Yes, all He needs is for you to turn your head in His direction.
And let's go back to the original passage we were discussing in Luke 15. Verse 20 reads like this: And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. The father was watching for the lost son, just as God the Father watches for us to make a move to come in His direction. When we do, He runs to us.
Don't stop praying, people!!!! Nothing is impossible with God!
I want to close with this video clip our pastor played in church this past Sunday. It has some amazing spiritual applications. But for now, it is a depiction of a bear cub who has strayed from safety and is being stalked by a cougar; he runs to safety, and he finds it.
Be blessed this day!