Last week we looked at the Rich Young Ruler and his internal wrestling with the faith of his parents, culture, and personal values. Today the Prodigal Son who also 'deconstructed his faith', and how to pray for those doing the same.
In Luke 15:11-32 Jesus includes the story of the Prodigal Son as part of a larger teaching found in the first 10 verses in this chapter, about 100 sheep and one gets lost and separated from the flock, and about a woman who has 10 coins and loses 1 and searches her whole house to find the 1. So that sets the context - the prodigal son is the lost coin, the lost sheep.
The unhappy son
We find a man with two sons, and the younger man asks for his inheritance so he may go out and start his own life. In ancient Israel the eldest son received a double portion of inheritance. (Dt 21:15-17)
The fact the younger brother wants his money now so he can go out and start his own life, tells us he does not want to have his older brother as his boss. He had grown up with his older brother being groomed to take over the family business and property knowing he would receive half whatever his brother got upon the death of their father. He wanted out. Now. And the father gave it to him, perhaps understanding his need to prove himself, but certainly sad at his son leaving the business.
How many young people (the older I get the more I define young people as those under the age of 40, lol) are today re-thinking their upbringing and making the decision that they cannot go on like they were raised. They want out, and that's what this young man did. How many young people have found organized religion stifling, restrictive, and out of touch? How many like this young man say 'I can't do this anymore', and leave?
The results reveal he needed that family structure
In Luke 15:13-16 we are told he went to another land, and there wasted his money on 'riotous living'. This is where he gets the name 'prodigal son'. The word 'prodigal' is Latin for 'wasteful', but more than that, meaning to move one's life in a way which wastes. It refers to a lifestyle of extravagance beyond one's means.
In verses 14-16 we are told there was a famine in the land and he had to find a job. He got the lowest job available, feeding pigs, which were unclean to a proper Jewish lad such as himself. He was the lowest of the low. We are told in v17 in the King James Version, at his lowest point of hunger and need, 'He came to himself'.
The Greek reads like this: "However, to himself having come, he was saying..." He was finally having an honest conversation with himself about his situation. Verse 17 says in that inner struggle talking to himself, he remembers the lowest servants in his father's house had plenty of food whereas he had none. He was starving. The pigs were eating, but not him. No provision, no true friends. All alone. He had to reach that low point that he might 'come to himself'. That he might have that honest assessment of his life, faith, and family relationships.
He needed that
He was finally having the conversation with himself that he should have had before he ever thought of leaving his home. If he would have had faith in the Lord within the confines of his older brother being his boss and 2x as rich in his inheritance than he, the Lord would have developed character within him and blessed him in future plans. But he didn't consider what he had and the value of the stability of his life. He didn't value his family, his faith, nor the values of his upbringing. All that was coming back to him now as he saw that even the pigs had something to eat where he had nothing.
Still thinking within himself he develops a plan. This is important. He determined he would return to his father, humble himself, and just ask for a job somewhere on the estate. Those deconstructing their faith will at some point begin to reconstruct their faith, just like this young man. They will think through a plan to return.
That which was a point of anger and injustice before - that the faith of his family meant his brother got 2x as much as him and that he would be his boss, was processed within his heart. He had to go through great difficulty and hardship before he was at peace with the situation, but he did process it. He had to do it by himself, away from his faith, his father, his brother, and how he saw his future with them in his life.
We know how it ended
He returned, his father saw him in the distance as he was approaching and ran to him, had a great party, and the elder son was offended. But our point is that the young man returned.
We must allow those we love who are currently deconstructing their faith to continue their processing. They are not alone. The Seed they have in them is incorruptible. God is a Spirit and it is in the unseen realm of their spirit that He wrestles with them. This can take years.
Galatians 4:19 says that Paul was ‘travailing in birth again until Christ is formed in you’. Paul is in intercession for them like being in childbirth, but the issue is ‘Christ being formed in (them)’.
Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians in 3:15-20 and 1:17-20 were for their inner being, where no one but the Father see. That the Father would by His Spirit, make them strong and give them revelation of the unfathomable love of Christ, and that He would give them the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in Him so they may know the depth of His invitation to them in Christ. That’s powerful. That’s how we need to pray for the ‘de-constructors’.
Right now they may be demolishing their faith, their upbringing, and even lashing out at the injustices of their early life. But the Father is still there, dealing with them by grace and mercy, showing them things, helping them get rid of the error and hurt they experienced, and rebuilding their faith one plank at a time towards a future return and reconciliation. And in that day as in our example above, there will be great rejoicing.
He is faithful. Pray according to the prayers above and as prompted for your loved one, and watch the Father work….
New subject next week, blessings,
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