How to Help Rescue Your Prodigal

Prodigal: “a person who leaves home to pursue a reckless, wasteful lifestyle” Webster’s New World Dictionary

Do you have a loved one who is a prodigal? Whether a family member or close friend, this person’s decision to pursue a reckless life and turn from the people and God who love them can throw us into a living nightmare. What should we do? How can we help them?

Don’t Blame Yourself (Luke 15:11-32)

The prodigal chose his/her path; it was not forced upon them (Jas. 4:17). When we blame ourselves, invalid guilt hinders us from hearing God, our source of wisdom. Psalm 1 says those who listen to the Lord, instead of to invalid feelings or thoughts, will succeed in all they do.

Don’t Be a Stumbling Block to Your Prodigal (Rom. 14:13, 1 Cor. 8:9)

Though we aren’t responsible for another person’s directions, we can make it easier or harder for them to make healthy choices. Unnecessary burdens make them susceptible to temptations.

A young woman who became promiscuous said she’d been Daddy’s girl until she reached adolescence. Her father, unclear on how to parent a teenage girl, withdrew from her. Feeling rejected, she sought to fill the hole her emotionally absent father left by seeking affection from other men. His distance created an unintended stumbling block.

We’ve all made mistakes, yet when we become aware of how we’re needlessly burdening others we must make changes. Prodigals don’t want to return to an unsafe relationship or setting. Stumbling blocks are unsafe.

Be Gentle when You Speak to Your Prodigal (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

The Greek definition of gentleness includes consideration and patience. Jesus describes Himself as gentle. God often uses gentle speech to break through spiritual deception and bondage.

In my college days of waywardness, I can’t remember my parents’ words, but I remember their tone. They were gentle.

In my college days of waywardness, I can’t remember my parents’ words, but I remember their tone. They were gentle. #Prodigals #RefreshingFaith Share on X

I pray you will make a difference with the prodigal in your life. Your help will be noticed and applauded by God (Pro. 24:11, 12). If we can help you with this or another relationship challenge, please contact us.

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This past year shook us in many ways. The men and women of the Bible also faced challenges—and they experienced a big God. Let Debbie’s Big God books show you how to live strong and finish well. Enjoy 40% off for a limited time. Use code LWBG40 at


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  1. J.D. Wininger

    Love this Mr. Larry! The lesson I’ve learned in dealing with prodigals (I was one once myself; and in some ways still am at times) is that while I should not condone their behavior, neither should I condemn it. I try and practice the approach of “While I don’t agree with your choices, they’re your choices and I respect that. However, understand that you made the choice so you have to accept the consequences that come with that freedom.” Hope that makes sense my friend. Perhaps it’s another was of saying, “I may not like you right now, but I’ll always love you.”

    • Debbie Wilson

      J.D., I really like how you summed it up! Thanks so much.

  2. Ann J Musico

    Wonderful wisdom here, Debbie. Thank you.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thanks, Ann! I like his thought to be gentle. Not a natural reaction when we feel fearful and out of control.

  3. Paula Short

    Thank you so much Debbie, for your blessed words of wisdom. I have a prodigal adult child who hasn’t spoken to me in 3 years, I will always have my arms open wide to welcome her. Blessings.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Paula, I’m so sorry. I know too many parents in your shoes. I pray she will come to her senses and return to you and the Father.

  4. Melissa Henderson

    We had a prodigal. Many years ago, many tears were shed and many prayers were whispered, spoken and written. We are thankful our son found his way back to God. He is a man of God, a wonderful son, father and husband. We couldn’t be more proud of him.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Melissa, thank you for this testimony of hope! Hallelujah!

  5. Nancy Head

    May God give us that gentle nature when others need it so much. And may He guide all the prodigals home.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen and amen! Thank you, Nancy.

  6. Katherine Pasoue

    Having gone through a period of being a prodigal, I recognize your advice is sound, as well as loving. Thank you for sharing a message that will help many trouble children and their parents.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Katherine, thank you for sharing your story. I know that will give many parents great hope.

  7. Lauren Sparks

    Going through this in some ways right now. It is so very hard.

    • Debbie Wilson

      I’m so sorry, Lauren. I think this is a very common problem. And our Father understands.

  8. Kathy

    Thank you for such good advice! We have a prodigal grandson, and I appreciate your insights.

    • Debbie

      Kathy, may the Lord bring you grandson home. I’ve heard many stories of hope. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Jeanne Takenaka

    Debbie, what a beautiful, empathetic post. I so appreciate your wisdom, and I’m tucking it into my heart and mind, in case I need it as our sons prepare to launch.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jeanne, thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  10. Barbara Latta

    The prodigal son’s father was a great example of parenting to all of us for how he received his son back into the family. Thanks for sharing!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Barbara, he is a wonderful example. I love how he threw a party without conditions. What grace. Thanks so much!

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