Father and Son Share about the Prodigal Years

“When I was 19, I decided I’d be honest and stop saying I was a Christian.” (Abraham Piper)

One of the most painful experiences for a Christian parent is when a child goes through a time of rebellion. If you are going through this as a parent right now, I pray you will find encouragement as John and Abraham Piper both share about Abraham’s season of rebellion in the September 2007 issue of Decision magazine.

John Piper:

My main memory of Abraham’s prodigal years is tears. As I knelt in prayer, I would remember the 9-year-old Abraham walking with me to 6:30 a.m. winter prayer meetings—willingly. I would take hold of Jesus’ cloak and cry: “O Jesus, please, don’t let go of him.”

He was never more than a breath away. One moment I would be rejoicing over some simple blessing, and then suddenly he was there, a heaviness, an ache. I would wonder what he was doing. And I would pour another prayer into the great censer before the throne …

All the while God was making me a broken-hearted pastor. God loves His people through the pain of His shepherds. None of our sufferings is wasted. We do not graduate from the seminary of sorrows in this life. But oh, how glad I am that this class is over, and Abraham is home. Thank You, Jesus, for not letting go.

Abraham Piper:

Looking back on my years of rejecting Christ, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child …

  1. Point them to Christ. Your rebellious child’s real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes … The real problem is that your child doesn’t see Jesus clearly …
  2. Pray. Only God can save your children, so keep on asking Him to display Himself to them …
  3. Acknowledge that something is wrong. When your daughter rejects Jesus, don’t pretend that everything is fine …
  4. Don’t expect them to be Christlike. If your son is not a Christian, he won’t act like one, and it’s hypocrisy if he does …
  5. Welcome them home. Because your deepest concern is your son’s heart, not his actions, don’t create too many requirements for coming home …
  6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them. … Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Your role is to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that you want your child to return to.
  7. Connect them to other believers. … Try to keep other Christians in their lives and trust God to connect your son or daughter with a believer who can point out your child’s folly without getting the door slammed on them.
  8. Respect their friends. … Be hospitable. Her friends are someone else’s wayward children, and they need Jesus, too.
  9. E-mail them. When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple of lines and send it to your child …
  10. Take them to lunch. … It may almost feel hypocritical to talk about his daily life, since what you really care about is his eternal life, but be sure to do it anyway. He needs to know you care about all of him …
  11. Take an interest in their pursuits. Odds are that if your daughter is purposefully rejecting Christ, then the way she spends her time will disappoint you. Nevertheless, find the value in her interests, if possible, and encourage her …
  12. Point them to Christ. … The goal is not that they will be good kids again … The goal is not for you to stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study … The only ultimate reason to pray for them, welcome them, plead with them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Jesus Christ.

Be sure to read the whole article at Decision Magazine. You may also be interested in reading Tullian Tchividjian’s comments on how his grandparents, Billy and Ruth Graham, ministered to him during his years of rebellion as a teen.

HT: CROSS-eyed


  1. Henry says:

    WOW.. I have a 2 year old son and I am at times terrified of the thought of this. I pray to GOD everyday to rescue Him from eternal damnation. I see that sons of Pastors some times end up in the deepest mess – not sure why.. I am aspiring to be in the ministry, so it is a disturbing thought. But it is encouraging to see people like Abraham Piper, Franklin Graham caught by the love of CHRIST.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Henry – Prayer is the first and most important thing we can do for our children, so keep those prayers going! As far as ministry: love your children, spend time with them, don’t put extra expectations on them just because you are in ministry, don’t let other people put extra expectations on them just because you are in ministry, balance out family life with church life, protect them as best you can from any ugliness that can sometimes happen in church situations — and they should turn out fine. In the long run, we all have to turn our children over to God anyways, so that is why it all starts with prayer.

    All the best,

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Interview with Tullian Tchividjian at Ray Fowler .org
  2. KenPierpont.com » Prodigal Advice

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