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7 reasons why some prodigals return

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I recently wrote a post entitled, “8 Reasons Some Young People are Walking away from Their Faith” for Thom Rainer’s Church Answers group (you can also find it on this site here). I admit that reading may have been discouraging, albeit honest and accurate. So, here’s the flipside of that post: from my experience, 7 reasons why some prodigals return to their family and their faith:

  1. Somebody’s been praying for them. Never have I seen a prodigal return without family members and a church family praying for them. Never. It doesn’t happen apart from the power of God. 
  2. They faced life crisis they could not handle. It may have been a health concern . . . or financial woes . . . or relationship struggles . . . or the death of a loved one . . . or other issues, but whatever they faced forced them to see their need for God. 
  3. They simply realized that the life they were living was going nowhere. In this case, the prodigals had typically been running for a long time – long enough to realize their path brought them no peace or joy. The directionless nature of their journey awakened them. 
  4. They developed a friendship with a believer who loves them, listens to them, attempts to answer their questions, and models genuine faith before them. A real relationship with a real believer who lives out real faith can make a difference.
  5. They found a church that showed them something they had not seen: an imperfect, but growing, loving, patient congregation with leaders willing to tackle the hard questions of prodigals and non-believers. The church(es) they attended prior to running away as a prodigal may have been good churches, but prodigals often remember only the negative . . . until, that is, they see something different in a church. 
  6. They saw life transformation in another prodigal. Sometimes, even prodigals living far from faith are still watching, even from a distance. Gospel-empowered, significant life change of another prodigal can catch their attention. 
  7. They start reading the Bible on their own. It’s usually a life crisis that drives them there, and they often tell no one else that they’re reading the Word, but they turn to the Word of their childhood—and they find it really is powerful and transforming. 

If you have a prodigal in your life (as I do), I pray this post is helpful to you. Let us know in the comments section if you’d like us to join you in praying for someone. 

    About the Author

  • Chuck Lawless