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Keys to Reaching a Prodigal Son or Daughter

There are few things in life more heartbreaking than having a child who has embraced this sinful world. Part of the pain is bittersweet memories of chats on the way home from church about what he or she learned that day in Sunday school. Those were the days when life seemed so simple. Nowadays, they have become complex, with disagreements about the correctness of the Bible’s stance on certain unmentionable sexual sins and whether or not a woman has the right to her own body.

And these two issues are just the tip of the cold iceberg of the philosophy of this evil world. All was well until a number of books from well-known atheists and liberal university professors corrupted a childlike trust in Jesus.

If there was just one issue, perhaps there would be a simple solution, but there seems to be a web of complexities. However, there is hope in the word “seems,” a hope which we will look at in a few moments.

“Demonstrating a genuine and consistent faith in your own life is crucial. Nothing destroys a relationship like the slightest hypocrisy.”

Meanwhile, here are some practical things you can do to help ease a difficult situation:

  • Maintain open and loving communication: It’s important for you to maintain a healthy and non-judgmental line of communication with your child. You should create a “safe space” where he (or she) can freely express their doubts, concerns, and struggles without fear of rejection.
  • Listen and empathize: Take the time to listen attentively to his or her perspectives and life experiences. Show empathy and understanding rather than immediately trying to impose beliefs or solutions. You don’t have to agree with their feelings to establish trust and strengthen the parent-child relationship.
  • Lead by example: Demonstrating a genuine and consistent faith in your own life is crucial. Nothing destroys a relationship like the slightest hypocrisy. Children observe their parents, so living out one’s faith authentically can be a powerful influence on their journey back.
  • Pray for (and if possible with) them: Encourage them to express their thoughts and concerns through prayer. Meanwhile, consistently seek God’s guidance and intervention in their lives. Prayer can give us comfort, support, and a sense of connection with God. He is not panicking about the spiritual state of your child.
  • Provide resources and guidance: Gently offer relevant resources—such as books, videos, articles, podcasts, or sermons—that address the specific doubts or questions he or she may have.
  • Respect their autonomy: While it’s essential to share your beliefs and values, it’s also important to respect the autonomy of your children, especially if they are now adults. Pressuring or forcing them to conform to a particular perspective may lead to further alienation. Instead, offer guidance and support while acknowledging their freedom to make their own choices. Remember, the loving father let the prodigal son go.
  • Exercise patience and perseverance: Remember that everyone’s faith journey is unique and unfolds at its own pace. It’s crucial for you to exercise patience, maintaining a loving and supportive presence while trusting in God’s timing.

I have found from experience that in most cases of strayed faith, there is just one issue. Take, for instance, the popular stance of atheism. There is no more foolish belief than to think that nothing created everything. But an atheist doesn’t just believe that there was nothing in the beginning. He believes that “nothing” gave us flowers, birds, trees, seasons, fruits, male and female in almost every species, the marvel of the human eye, and the miracle of childbirth. Either there was a Creator, or nothing created everything.

So, when I speak to an atheist, I ask this question: “Can you be brutally honest with me?” When he says that he can, I ask, “This has little to do with the existence of God and everything to do with you having sex with your gorgeous girlfriend. Am I right?” And, in almost every case, the reaction is an admission that his problem isn’t God’s existence but His moral demands. That’s the point of offense.

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:19-20)

There is a way that your strayed son or daughter could hear a biblical presentation of the gospel without feeling pressured by you. Our Living Waters YouTube channel just passed 250 million views. It is popular because viewers can actually see the lost change their mind about God and the gospel.

I have lost count of the number of people who say in the comments section that they wish that I could talk to their strayed son or daughter. There is a way for that to happen. Just send a video link to your strayed son or daughter and say, “I would love to know what you think of this video.” You’re not “telling” him or her to watch it. You are simply asking for their opinion. That appeals to the ego and is less intimidating. It may spark a conversation. More importantly, they would come under the sound of the gospel, and it is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation.

Here is a fascinating video you might consider sending: Crazy Bible.

I also have a popular book that may be helpful, called How to Bring Your Children to Christ and Keep Them There.

Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is the Founder and CEO of Living Waters, a bestselling author, and has written more than 100 books, including, The Evidence Study Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program Way of the Master, which airs in 190 countries.

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