Prayer for the Wandering Child

This is a treasure I bring to you, asking you to love and cherish it more than even I do.Before my child took a breath, I prayed for you to love him. As he grew, safe beneath my ribs, I called on you for his future, his life, his soul. When he was too little to care I read to him of your love, prayed over his crib, brought him to your throne time and again.

As he grew, I did my best. His education included your name in every subject. He spent time in church. He understands theology and doctrine. He had friends who cared for you as well as those who didn’t, so he could see the world for what it was. In some ways, he was sheltered. In others, he was free to make his own way. He attended youth group, which some days I regret to the depths of my core, and some days I remember with fondness.

And yet, he wanders. My prayer is for him to settle in your bosom, to love you first and foremost. I don’t care if he succeeds in the world. I don’t care if he buys a house or owns a nice car or lives in the suburbs. I’ve only ever had one goal for him, and yet it’s the one goal he hasn’t settled on, not with any passion.

This is where my theology falls by the wayside. This is where I don’t pray as I’ve been taught to pray. I don’t have the faith of a mustard seed. I bargain: If you’ll just draw him to you, I’ll do anything… As though I have some kind of leverage. I scour your Word for a guarantee, a three-step program that will ensure that everyone I love will walk with you when the final curtains are drawn.  I’m looking for a spell, truth be told.  A few magic words, an eye of newt, and clicking my heels three times, and I won’t have to wait on you. I plot, imagining ways to lure him to worship, lure him toward truths, make this happen, as though changing the state of a soul is within my power. Patience is difficult, moments of exquisite pain where I don’t display any fruit. In this matter, I am fear. I am doubt. Was I a bad parent? Where did I go wrong? Should I pray more? Do more? I tremble as I wait for your final word on the matter.

Because this is one where an answer of no isn’t acceptable. My stomach heaves to imagine it.  My head spins, and the world grows dim. This means everything. This is a treasure I bring to you, asking you to heal it, love it, enfold it in your palm and cherish it more than even I do. And in the face of that, I lose all sense, all doctrine, all discipline, all dignity. Faith goes quiet. Hope flickers. Darkness curls from the depths and my heart stutters.

In that darkness Satan sings songs of victory. Remember the sons of David, he chortles. Or the sons of Eli. Men of God who saw their children wander off the edges entirely, no last-minute saves. This could be you.

I have no answers. I have tears. I cast my cares and fears on the one who cares for me. God says if I love him I will love his son.  I hope the flip will prove to be true, that He will love the sons and daughters because He loves the parent.  Perhaps I will learn patience after all.  Perhaps today is the day the angels will rejoice over the lamb restored.  Perhaps the coin will appear through the cracks of the house, and the neighbors will hear the victory cry.

Mothers brought their children to Jesus, and he said to let it happen, that he wanted to bless them.  The leper said If you are willing, cleanse me. I ask the same words, hoping your answer then will be your answer now, even though I ask by proxy. I am willing. Say them to my child, Jesus. I am willing.

I am not alone, Lord.  For all of us waiting, for all of us craving the victory cry over lost lambs and missing coins, whether they be children or spouses or parents or friends, I ask from my knees, please be willing.  And come quickly, but not before you heal the souls of those we love, our treasures in jars of clay we wish to see shine forever in your presence.

Break their hearts. Pierce their darkness. Guide their steps. Bring them home.


One thought on “Prayer for the Wandering Child

  1. Oh, Jill! I wonder if God collects the tears of mothers in a special bottle… tears that are shed over the babes we birthed who have wandered so far from the faith we tried so valiantly to cultivate in them. I kneel beside you, my sister, and together we pray for our sons. And for our sometimes faltering faith in God’s willingness to grant our mother-heart’s desire.


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