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  • Writer's pictureLynn Holzinger

Three Testimonies of Prodigals Who Returned

Sometimes we just need to be encouraged. We know God is in control, and we are praying and waiting, but nothing seems to be happening. Our hearts are broken. My guess is the parents of these three prodigals felt the same way. But they never gave up, and neither should we. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, daughter, or son who is praying for someone you love to return to the faith they once professed, I hope the following testimonies will help bring you hope and encouragement.

Abraham Piper’s Testimony + Suggestions to help reach out to wayward children

When I was 19, I decided I’d be honest and stop saying I was a Christian.

by Abraham Piper

At first, I pretended that my reasoning was high-minded and philosophical. But really I just wanted to drink gallons of cheap sangria and sleep around. Four years of this and I was strung out, stupefied, and generally pretty low. Especially when I was sober or alone.

My parents, who are strong believers and who raised their kids as well as any parents I've ever seen, were brokenhearted and baffled. I’€m sure they were wondering why the child they tried to raise right was such a ridiculous screw-up now. But God was in control.

One Tuesday morning, before 8 o clock, I went to the library to check my e-mail. I had a message from a girl I'd met a few weeks before, and her e-mail mentioned a verse in Romans. I went down to the Circle K and bought a 40-ounce can of Miller High Life for $1.29. Then I went back to where I was staying, rolled a few cigarettes, cracked open my drink, and started reading Romans. I wanted to read the verse from the e-mail, but I couldn’t remember what it was, so I started at the beginning of the book. By the time I got to chapter 10, the beer was gone, the ashtray needed emptying and I was a Christian.

The best way I know to describe what happened to me that morning is that God made it possible for me to love Jesus. When He makes this possible and at the same time gives you a glimpse of the true wonder of Jesus, it is impossible to resist His call.

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Prodigal On the Run by Alycia Neighbours

I Ran From My Family and God

I started running away from my family and God when I was in my early teens. I ran because I sought acceptance, approval and an excitement I didn’t believe I had within my home. I ran because I wanted to be my own boss of my destiny and thought I could find purpose on my own with no help from my earthly family or from a God I couldn’t see or hear.

My answer to any inward or outward conflict was flight.


My parents made the difficult decision to place me in a group home. I thought they just didn’t want me around, and for a while I played the game of following the rules. Then the urge came from nowhere to run again. It wasn’t a suggestion of my mind, but a desire of my heart. Just to prove in this controlled environment that I didn’t need anyone and could once again design my life with no help from anyone else.

I Ran Into an Abusive Relationship

Years later, I found myself in a marriage full of domestic abuse that would not allow me to run. Oh, I tried to run a few times, but he made sure that I regretted it and even threatened my life if I tried it again. Before the marriage, I had a son by another man. After a few beatings from my husband and seeing his anger directed toward my son, I signed away my parental rights to my son’s natural father and took my husband’s suggestion to disappear from everyone.

For eight years, there was no contact with anyone in my family or extended family. Often during those times, I had a strong pull to contact my parents, but I wasn’t allowed a phone or alone time away from the house. I was trapped and I began to pray that somehow there would be a way for me to reach out to my family. No easy option presented itself, so I realized I was going to have to make something happen. I emailed my aunt and asked her if restoration was even possible. She encouraged me that my parents loved me deeply and I needed to heal what was broken.

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How One Mom Prayed for Her Prodigal Child, and Her Encouragement for Other Parents


If you’re reading this and have a prodigal child in your life, I’m sorry for the heartbreak you are likely experiencing. Your child is very blessed to have someone like you who is willing to significantly invest in their life with prayers on their behalf before a compassionate and merciful God—a God who hears and answers prayers.

I’ve been asked how I prayed for my prodigal. I’d like to also share some thoughts about my journey through these prodigal years, as these trials are used by God to not only bring about change in the prodigal but also in the lives of the parents. He can use these trials to grow us in Christlikeness and to bring Him glory, if we are willing.

Having a prodigal child has been the worst trial that my husband and I have experienced in our lives. It was a very painful and heart-wrenching time for us with a lot of emotional stress, anxiety, and loss of sleep. Early on we tried to talk with our son, reason with him, and plead, but to no avail. His heart was bent on following his friends and the ways of the world. We chased after him and also protected him from some of the consequences. We eventually learned that we needed to let him have the total burden of the consequences.

Telling others about our prodigal was difficult for many reasons. I soon realized that we needed others to come alongside of us to pray for him and to help us carry our burden. I asked God to provide those who would have a heart to pray for him. We were blessed to have some who actually prayed for him every day and many others who prayed for him regularly too. We are so grateful for all who have prayed.

At some point we realized we couldn’t change our prodigal’s heart—it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about permanent change in a person’s heart, which results in changed behavior. We also realized that the most important thing we could do was to support him with unconditional love and persistent prayers and to persevere and not give up because of weariness. We made an effort to keep communication open by trying to have regular conversations with him and encourage him whenever we could. We also made an effort to connect by expressing love with our words, touch, and hugs, as well as speaking truth into his life. Certain expectations and guidelines were put into place that he had to live by to remain in our home (having a job or being enrolled in school, showing respect, not using drugs and alcohol, etc.) and, if he chose to reject them, then he was choosing to find a different place to live.

There were times during the eight-and-a-half-year journey that it seemed impossible that he would ever surrender his life to Christ.

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