I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
God spoke these words through the prophet Jeremiah while they were still in exile. This was a future hope. No matter how sinful the people became, God’s love never wavered. He was always drawing them back; He was always letting them know what their lives would be like if they repented. The Old Testament is a continual love story of God for His people. They strayed again and again, He would get angry and have to punish them because He is a just God, but His love remained. Under the New Testament covenant, Jesus became the mediator once for all. Our prodigal children live under the New Testament Covenant, but God’s love is the same. And He wants them back.
The day I shouted out loud in front of two women who had been praying with me for several weeks, “What difference does it make if God loves me? I want people to love Me.” was the day God decided to show me that His love does indeed make a difference. It didn’t happen instantly, but week after week, I began to encounter His love, and my heart began to soften. I began to fall in love with the Father. God wanted me back.
So how do we go about praying that our children will experience God’s love? How does God encounter them? Why hasn’t it happened already? I don’t have the answers to all the questions, but I know what God has impressed on my heart for Nathan. It’s His love that will change everything. He is directing me to pray specifically for past Christians to all of a sudden reach out to him again. And for future Christians to reach out in love, not trying to change his mind because it’s not his mind that will be changed first. God directed me to pray like Daniel prayed in Daniel 9. And just like God answered Daniels request immediately, God has already answered my prayer for Nathan’s return, but just like Daniel didn’t see the answer right away because of what was going on in the heavenly realm (Daniel 10:12-13), I have not been able to see the answer yet. My job is to continue to pray it into the present in order to defeat the enemy who if fighting to hang on to him. My love is important too, but it will not be my love alone (or mine and Kevin’s) that is used to bring him back.
God may and probably does, have a different path for your prodigal. I know He wants to share it with you because that’s the kind of God He is. He wants to show you how to pray. And if you want to share it with the group, we can also be praying along the same lines. But one thing that is true for all of them and that is…God’s love changes everything.