Understanding the Prodigal Mindset
Hey guys! So this post is a little different. I’ve been asked a few times now about helping or understanding what is happening with a backslidden friend or loved one, so I thought it’d be helpful to blog about it. Here I share as much as possible in the hope that you can better understand and effectively pray for the prodigal sons of the body. Of course this is just from my experience and perspective, but praying you are equipped and encouraged!
Q: How could they go back?
James 1:14-15 KJV
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
I believe that there are many things that contribute and cause someone to backslide, but this scripture gives insight to one of the root causes; temptation. Now that temptation could arise in different forms. It could be that the prodigal son has become angry with God because he feels ‘let down’, and so a temptation arises to rebel and turn their heart against God rather than trust Him despite the circumstance. It could be a temptation to meet a lustful desire or even a temptation to bring forth an Isaac (a God-given promise), which we know would only bring forth an Ishmael (human effort to fulfil God’s promise).
Q: Why do they continue down that destructive path?
From what I’ve experienced, there are a few reasons as to why people continue to backslide.
“I’m stuck, I can’t see a way out”
This response is usually from a heart that feels trapped by their circumstances and may genuinely not know how to get out. It is also a response where the fear of man is greater than the Fear of The Lord in a prodigal’s life. This fear can be crippling, and though they may try to ‘get out’, they may have come to a point where only God can step in and pull them out of the situation. Yet they themselves must come to a point of truly wanting to get out. They must surrender their will to God’s, in order for Him to step in. Possible prayer points: Divine intervention, wisdom, boldness and the Fear of The Lord.
“I give up; I can’t be good so what’s the point in trying?”
This is a response from a heart that has settled for the life of compromise. Instead of getting up and fighting, they are falling for the wiles of the enemy that seek to keep them from moving forward in the plans and purposes of God. They haven’t understood that it is by His Spirit, and not by our power that we are transformed into Christ’s image. They don’t understand that it is Christ’s righteousness that puts and keeps them in right standing with God. Another angle is this heart feeling ‘dead’ inside. Vision is lost, purpose is fuzzy and so it’s difficult to move forward. Possible prayer points: A revelation of Grace, and of who they are- more than an overcomer. The gift of faith to continue the race, a reviving touch of The Holy Spirit.
“This is what I want, God will change His mind”
Crazy as this sounds, I’ve been there. This response is from a stubborn heart that refuses to surrender to the breaking process. The breaking of a seed in the ground that is ready to bring forth fruit if it dies (breaks) – see John 12:24. This refusal to surrender is refusing to give up the desire to control his or her life and die to lustful desires. This response is from one who is yet to understand that we were created for His purposes, and He will not change His plans for our lustful wants. His way is always best, and beyond what we could imagine. Possible Prayer points: A softened, surrendered heart, increased godly desires.
“I’m scared of the getting up process”
The thing that makes getting up seem so difficult is the need to live at a higher standard than before, not to mention the painful process of a breaking away from the sin that has become a comfort. Returning to a ‘crucify your flesh daily’ lifestyle is not fun after having lived with your flesh totally in charge. So this response is a mixture of fear and self-pity. Possible prayer points: A revelation of the Spirit of Love, power and soundness of mind. An awareness of God's presence to help them.
“How could God ever forgive me after everything I’ve done?”
The devil is truly a liar. Not only will he make the prodigal feel their actions are unforgiveable, but he will tell them that they would just be ‘taking the mickey’ out of God’s grace. He’ll tell them that God doesn’t like lukewarm people and they should therefore stay cold (even though they’re probably lukewarm!), he’ll tell them that they’re too much of a hypocrite to be completely healed, set free and restored to wholeness in Christ. This is the response of a heart blinded by the false reign of sin, unable to accept the free gift of Grace. This heart is (possibly unknowingly) prideful in declaring that Jesus’ finished work at the cross is not enough to wipe their sin away, believing that they themselves must pay the price. Possible prayer points: Rebuking the spirit of pride, lies of condemnation, guilt and shame. A revelation of God’s Grace!
In addition to all of this, I’ve seen that some people (self definitely included) simply aren’t wise enough to learn from the mistakes of others. I don’t believe you always have to make your own mistakes for every single life lesson that you must learn. Wisdom sees the results of others wrong choices and takes notes! Wisdom understands that a lemon will never give you anything other than lemon juice!
An overall prayer point to add is that Abba releases a Word that will renew their minds to right thinking and light their path home (See Psalm 119:105), and also for them to have a revelation of purpose. When a person does not truly know who they are and what they are called to do, it’s easy to continue down the wrong path. After all, they can’t see the depth of what lies in their obedience to Christ.
Q: How can I help them?
The main thing I would say is to pray for them (remembering Ephesians 6:12) maybe you could do so with some friends. Also releasing corrective words from The Holy Spirit as He leads. Be honest with them, but understand that their stubbornness may cause you to think they are not listening at all.
One thing that is important is; understand that though you may love and be in prayer over this prodigal son, you cannot take on the burden of ‘saving them’. Only Christ can do that. Only He can turn their heart back to Him. Of course your prayers, warnings and encouragements will help them, but just be careful to find a balance in that you trust that God is working in their lives and you are able to remain at peace.
Do not trust what you see, I can testify to this one! Things looked bad in the natural for me. When I became pregnant it looked like things got worse, but that was what it took for me to come to my senses. I actually needed my daughter more than she needed me, but in the natural people may not have understood that. Don’t trust what you see, everyone’s process of coming to their senses is different. For some it looks extreme, and for others, not so extreme. God is able to turn around any circumstance, rest assured. See: Isaiah 59:1 | Isaiah 55:9 | 1 Cor 3:19
Q: Will they definitely come back to Christ?
I can’t give a definite answer for this. One thing I do know in my heart though; is that Abba passionately pursues His children when they are no longer passionately pursuing Him. It is not His will that one should perish. Imagine your young child or little sibling about to run into a busy road – would you not dash right after them to pull them back? So it is with Abba! When I was backsliding, funny enough, I came to know Abba like never before. I came to understand His relentless Love and nature as a Father. I was being disobedient but I still heard His voice, and still recognised when a dream was from Him. So I believe that those who do backslide, still, in whatever way shape or form, hear and perceive The Father’s voice calling them home… And rest assured that if they are His, they cannot be snatched from His hand. See: 2 Peter 3:9 | John 10:27-29
Pray, speak words of love, life and purpose over them- and be sure to rejoice as you see them coming home!
Check out my testimony poem to see more of my story: Freedom Lives
Feel free to add your comments or questions below!