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    “I can’t.  God can.  I think I’ll let him!”

I love this statement.  I think it should be the motto of every parent of a challenging, troubled child.  If your son or daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol, smoking cigarettes, cutting themselves, depressed, having sex, is suicidal, has an eating disorder, has a same sex attraction or is in trouble with the law there is nothing you can do to change them.  You are powerless.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try and do something.  Of course you want to do everything in your power to help them (offer counseling,  Baker Act them if needed,  take to a doctor or psychiatrist for an evaluation, offer rehab), but ultimately they must decide they want help or none of your efforts will do any good.  They must reach the point of being ready to change, ready to begin a new life.  Until then, sadly, all of your efforts to force them into another way of living will be futile.

I tried this with my daughter.  I was just sure that if we just took her to a counselor,  got her evaluated by a psychiatrist, got her on meds if needed, put her through a residential rehab program, brought the right people around her, etc.  etc.  then she would be “fixed”.  She would be just fine and all would be well!  I was so wrong.  I learned the hard way that I had no control over her.  I could not change her as hard as I tried.  I was truly powerless. This feeling of utter helplessness is so horrible.  The worst.  Especially when you see your beloved son or daughter destroying themselves and you can do nothing but stand by watch it happen.  Pure torture.  If you are in this situation now you know.  Gut-wrenching.  Makes you sick.  There were many days I wondered if my daughter would survive.

I had to learn to let go and wait until she wanted it for herself.  I am sure our efforts did make some deposits in her life that helped her when we was ready later on, but at the time, it was just that – a deposit she would go back to and draw on later when she was ready.  So of course you want to do that!   But until she was sick and tired of being sick and tired. . .  Until she wanted more out of life. . . until she wanted to be well no matter what it would take. . . until she wanted it for herself,  not to please me or her dad or anyone else,  she wasn’t ready.  She had to want a different life.  She had to want to live and only God could make that happen.

When the words  “I can’t.  God can.  I think I’ll let him”  describe your state of mind you can find peace in any situation, especially with your children.  I know it’s possible because I experienced it!   I think it sums up the concept of letting go and letting God pretty well.  It’s taking our hands off and trusting him to be “hands on” in their lives, doing what we can’t do.  We must keep trusting, trusting, trusting.

Our problem may be big, but God is BIGGER!

I have no power to change my child, but God is all-powerful.  He has all the power necessary to do that.

I don’t know what to do, but God knows exactly what to do.

I can do nothing to rescue them.  God can do anything to rescue them.

He can even move mountains if that is what it will take.

So, I will keep giving my child to him, stay out of the way and let him work.

“Have no anxiety about anything . . . bring your requests to God

and the peace of God will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”   (Phil. 4:6-7)


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(This is an excerpt from a great book, Praying Prodigals Home, by Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock.)

Of all the strategies we could suggest, waiting is perhaps the hardest.  Somehow we feel better about dealing with our prodigals if we can take action – it gives us the false illusion that we are in control of things. The truth is, we’re not in control.  We have to hand over the situation to God, remain prayerful and take action only as He directs us…….

For the believer, waiting for the prodigal’s return need not be a passive, “in limbo” state.  The Hebrew word for “wait” comes from a root word meaning “to bind together” and figuratively means “to expect”.  We don’t wait in fear and despair.  If our hope is in God, we wait expectantly for Him to intervene.  And in the process, we ourselves are drawn closer to Him with bonds of love.

Father, please give me Your wisdom to know how to pray for my prodigal. I lift his (her) specific needs to You now:  (name the needs).  Lord, I confess that I’ve felt hurt and angry at _________because of (mention the specifics).  I forgive my prodigal for hurting me and disappointing me; please help me to love him (her) with Your love and to walk in continual forgiveness.  Thank you for forgiving me and enabling me to forgive those who wrong me.

Lord, I’m grateful for the power of Your Word to give comfort and guidance.  Please show me appropriate Scriptures to pray for my prodigal.  I release __________ into Your hands and ask You to work in his (her) life according to Your plan and purpose.  I commit this person into Your care and trust You to draw him (her) to Yourself by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Thank You in Jesus’ name for doing a work of grace in _________’s life.  Amen.

**Ask God for His strategies of reaching your child, instead of depending on your own “formula prayers” to pray for your prodigal.

**Ask yourself how you can change your overall way of relating to your prodigal as part of your strategy (offering forgiveness face to face or through a letter, sending a gift or expressing unconditional love in a specific way)?

–Prayer Strategies                                                                          pages 58 – 60

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