H.O.P.E. for Moms of Prodigals

by Denise Ridley

Denise Ridley

The cell phone rang at 2:00 AM, waking me from a sound sleep. A call at that hour is never good news and this one didn’t disappoint. It was about my son and the caller gave me news that rocked my world and placed me on the prodigal road along with a multitude of other moms. How did we get here? How is it that we gave our children the greatest treasure possible, how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the compass of His Word for all of life’s journey and they have turned their backs and thrown it away?

I received Jesus at the age of 22. I was not raised in a Christ-following home but my mom gave me what she could. There was a God and He should be honored on Sundays. I have grown up with a religious perspective of God, church on Sunday and the 10 commandments but didn’t learn that a personal relationship with Jesus was possible until graduate school. I was thankful that I knew the Savior prior to meeting my husband and starting a family. I was eager to base my marriage on Biblical principles and raise our family according to the ways of the Lord. We were first generation believers and had no modeling in our own childhood families. After our two sons were born, there were nightly prayers, Sunday school, Christian school and camp. Music and television were closely monitored. The family budget was tight and we watched the Lord provide in miraculous ways. I loved hearing my son’s questions and observations and enjoyed their humor about life. Both of our sons were developing a personal faith in Jesus of their own! As we sailed through childhood and then the teen years, I privately congratulated myself that we avoided the usual heartbreaks of other families. We were raising our kids the right way!

When other parents hit rough patches in child rearing I thought….”those parents are getting the fruit of their labors”. What do you expect if your family is worshipping soccer on Sunday instead of the Savior”? I was so judgmental! Many years later, I learned that the issue is not so black and white. Godly parents can have rebellious adult children who don’t honor the Lord and His commands. Look at God, the perfect parent. He had a broken heart over Adam and Eve and Judas to name a few.

God was and continues to humble me. After both sons graduated from Bible College and worked in the youth ministry, I thought I was home free. They are grown and walking with the Lord. Now, I will enjoy them as young adults and await marriage and grandchildren. Was I in for a shock! The enemy set his trap and little by little, my sons began to follow worldly pleasures.

So after the 2:00am phone call, there have been a series of events that have caused a long painful road of broken dreams and unanswered prayers. At times the sense of failure, shame and brokenness has been more that my mother’s heart can bear. Although my husband was heart-broken, I noticed that he did not experience the prodigal journey the same way I did. For moms it’s a deeply personal sense of shame, brokenness and failure. The mother-child bond, given by the Lord to protect and nurture a little one to adulthood can be overwhelmingly painful when living with a prodigal. Many times I would meet other moms in church or out shopping and face the inevitable question, “how are the kids”? and I would raise my mask and respond, “oh, they are doing just great”. I hated it! How did we get to this place? Where did I go wrong? Where are you God and why aren’t you answering my prayers?

As a Christian leader, I have been aware that there are many hurting moms whose children are not following the Lord. Now I had joined the sisterhood in the shame, grief and isolation, the overwhelming sense of failure. H.O.P.E for Moms of Prodigals was born.

I realized that the Body of Christ provides connection and support for moms of toddlers and teens. But when the child grows to adulthood, a mom is on her own. If that adult child makes poor choices and turns her back on the ways of the Lord, the journey can be lonely and devastating.

H.O.P.E. is the expectation that God is at work in secret places. The evidence of His hand often appears suddenly in an atmosphere of faith, trust and belief. There is so much of this journey that is out of our control, while we wait with hopeful expectancy. But there ARE things we can do. There ARE strategies for prayer. There ARE mindsets that will ease the pain and we share the journey with other sisters.

H is for humility. We have spent a lifetime loving, nurturing, comforting and praying for our child. When our child hits the rough patches in life, we attempted to smooth it over, to fix it. But we can’t fix this. Our adult child must walk through this one on his or her own. And so in humility, we release our child to the ONE who has all power, all knowledge and loves our child more than we ever will. In humility, we admit we don’t have the answers and cling to HIS promises. His ways are greater than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

O is for obedience. We cling to the Lord’s Word and His presence. We listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit. We ask the Lord to show us what needs to be change in our own hearts. We confess sin to the Lord and to our adult child as the Holy Spirit leads. Whatever He says to do, we do it. We keep the love line open with our child, sending texts and cards, assuring him of our love. We keep our commitments. We serve the church and build His Kingdom. We trust God and do good, just as Jesus did, led by His Holy Spirit. We fight against the temptation to isolate, to complain about where is God in this situation, to have an anger that slides into bitterness. We are “no matter what” sisters and we are determined to trust God and be obedient in all things. No matter what the outcome, let the Lord find us obedient to His ways and will! If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)

P is for praise and prayer. We are aware that our words have power. And as the enemy desires that the prodigal journey would draw us away from God, the Lord bids us to draw close. He stirs us to change our perspective and adjust our focus. Our focus must come off our adult child and on to the Lord.

  • Set your mind on things above, not on things of earth ~Colossians 3:2. Our focus must remain fixed on our precious Savior who is mighty and loves greatly and works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose ~Romans 8:28.
  • We are to praise Him no matter what and lift up our adult child in continual prayer ~1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray with THANKSGIVING. Pray without ceasing  ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
  • Let’s encourage our sisters on those days when the pain is great, the discouragement is overwhelming, the future looks hopeless…do not weary in well doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not~Galatians 6:9.

I am reminded of the words of one mom who gave me this Word from the Lord. As she was crying out on behalf of her child, the Lord spoke to her heart…release your child to me, stop praying and start thanking me for what I’m doing in secret places”. I walked away, pondering that word. Stop praying? Really? Then, I realized that to “thank the Lord for what he was doing in secret places” was a position of FAITH. Prayer is so much more powerful when faith is mixed with the prayer. Thanksgiving primes the pump of faith. And so we practice praising in the storm and praying continually with an attitude of faith.

E is for expectation. What would become of me if I had not expected the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living~Psalm 27:13. Any day! Suddenly, our breakthrough will come. And the Lord will find us in faith, believing, trusting, expecting. Hallelujah!

Are you a mom with a prodigal? Do you know a mom who is walking the prodigal road? While we can’t control their choices, we can control our response to their choices! Join us as we respond with H.O.P.E., encouraging one another, persevering and awaiting the homecoming! May the God of hope fill you with all hope and peace as your trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit~Romans 15:13.

Click here to join the closed H.O.P.E. for Moms of Prodigals Facebook group.

Denise Ridley is the founder of Waters Edge Ministries. She is a speaker for various ministries, including Women of the Word and hosts a Christian radio program that airs in VT and MA. Her professional career includes being an Educational Therapist, Admissions Coordinator, Director of Guidance and Vocational Rehabilational Counselor. She holds an MA in Deaf Education and a M.Ed in Rehabilitation Counseling. Denise is married, with 2 grown sons and 4 grandchildren.

A Returned Prodigal Speaks!

by Christine Disibio 

I am a daughter of the Most High God, the Alpha and Omega, the Author of all life, the One who is, who was and who is to come.

Christine Disibio

I am a daughter of the great I AM, the Almighty KING!! I wish you could hear me say this, hear me say His names without pride, but with such joy, expectancy, and love. I am also a returned prodigal. I am in LOVE with my God, my Jesus, my Savior, my King, but I wasn’t always this way. I went through years of self– years of trying to satisfy myself. I spent years thinking I was my own god, believing I knew best and I had control. The twisted level of my thinking is almost unimaginable to me, yet when I ponder it…I remember.

The purpose of this quick testimony is not to inform you of the gravity of my sin, but to show you how unimaginably great a redeemer we serve. JESUS…that is the name above all names. JESUS… that is the man who saves! He came to share Good News, to set free captives, to deliver us from bondage, and to set blind eyes to see. He bore our sin, and he bore our sickness. JESUS came to deliver us and to restore our broken hearts. That’s just what He did for me.

I am a product of:

  • Prayers of a broken-hearted mother and father,
  • Prayers of a grandmother insistent on standing in the gap for my life,
  • Prayers of so many friends and family members crying out to God on my behalf.

I am a product of a God who hears, a God who answers, and a God who, even without those prayers, NEVER, EVER, EVER gave up on me!

I cannot express enough the joy I now have in Christ. The healing power of the blood of Jesus Christ is beyond my wildest expectation. How do we get our loved ones who have walked away to experience that power? Sometimes the people around us have to be just broken enough, just hurt enough, just in enough mess that they cry out, “OH LORD HELP ME!” And when they do, He is there. When they set their minds upon Him and taste and see that He is good, He will draw them unto Himself and give them staying power; He will start to appear better than this world, and He will become their desire.

I know each one of you is praying for someone, or more than one, near and dear to you. DON’T GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE UP! In Psalm 107 the Bible commands “ Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Has the Lord redeemed you? Then pray and speak out! Tell others that He has redeemed you from your enemies. The LORD has redeemed me and I will speak out to tell of the great, great things He has done for me. I will proclaim from every mountain top that God has saved me and restored me. Who else is like him? Taste and see for the Lord is good and so worthy to be praised. He reigns above all and through all. He alone has the victory, and He will succeed in the lives of those for whom you are praying.

Standing in the gap is exactly that. When you intercede, you place yourself in the space between what is now, and what will be when heaven has its way. You place yourself there, as a sacrifice, as a line in the sand saying you will not be moved until you see heaven move on behalf of your loved one. This is a Jesus-like action. The Bible says Jesus himself makes intercession on our behalf. He ever lives to intercede on our behalf. PRAISE GOD! Jesus himself is pleading before the Father the same case for your loved one!

Jesus taught us to pray “ Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” So stand in the gap, make intercession on behalf of those prodigals. Pray that they would experience the love of the Father and the restorative healing power of Jesus. Pray that they will walk in the way in which they were raised. Pray that they would come to the understanding and knowledge of God. Pray that the power of the Holy Spirit would come and breathe on them in their lives. Even if they reside in the pit of hell-on-earth, the Holy Spirit goes there. He is there… Call out to their dry bones and speak: “COME ALIVE!” May the Spirit of the living, breathing God move on their behalves and change the very course of their lives in Jesus name!

I want to pray for you and with you: O Father, gracious loving Father, I ask that you would refresh every woman reading these words, every intercessor pleading on behalf of a loved one. Lord, increase their measure of faith that they may know they have what they are requesting. Give them staying power, strength and grace. Place a new fire in each woman. May praise rise up out of their bellies, for you will be praised. With angels and saints we will sing worthy, worthy, worthy are you LORD!

Father, refresh them in your Holy Spirit and give them new utterances on behalf of their loved ones. Father, bend down and hear our prayers, oh Lord. Help us we cry. The prayers of wounded intercessors hold great power in heaven. Hear their cries and answer us quickly God! We want revival, revival of your sleeping people, revival in your church, in the ones present and the ones running.

Oh Lord, call them in from every corner of the earth. In their distress may they call out to you for help, O Lord. We know You will come and rescue them from their distress; You will heal them, and restore everything the enemy has stolen. Lord, turn deserts into pools of water and dry lands into springs of water in our lives and the lives of every prodigal child. WAKE UP SLEEPERS, COME ALIVE DRY BONES! Cry out for your redeemer is near. Cry out to JESUS and be restored, be fulfilled, be loved!

Lord, we know you hear our prayers and cries for mercy. We know You are good and faithful and will answer our every request. We thank You and we bless You! We ask all this because of the blood of Jesus shed for our sins at Calvary, and we ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.

In closing, I want to share a secret; there’s a bonus for you…there is a reward beyond even the great joy of seeing these things come to pass while still in the land of the living. There is reward in heaven and great blessing that comes today as we say these prayers. These prayers help us change more and more into the image of Jesus. They renew our minds and refresh our souls. They are hard to pray and exhausting at times, but God…you see, He uses EVERYTHING for our good, for the good of those that love him…even our broken hearts! 

Be blessed, and be loved!

Christine Disibio speaks at Women of the Word. She is a millennial with a heart to reach them and the iGeneration with the Gospel. In the everyday circumstances of life, the light of Jesus shines into darkness. Her life is rooted in applying biblical principles and prayer. Christine and her husband are entrepreneurs who see their business as an avenue to witness of God’s redemptive purposes to their employees and customers. They have two young children and live in New England.

Women of the Word has a closed Facebook group called H.O.P.E. for Moms of Prodigals. Please visit it by clicking here.