I’ve been reading Come Back, Barbara by C. John Miller and Barbara Miller Juliani, about a family’s struggle to love and believe for the salvation of their daughter who rejected Christ.
Mr. Miller has a great insight into the challenge to pray in faith for those children who have rejected and sinned against their parents repeatedly:
“What goes on in the minds of battered [not literally, but by their children’s sin] parents when it comes time to pray? Often a sense of defeat takes over the spirit, a cloud that can descend even when the parents have forgiven the young person and have real love in their hearts. The problem is that parents often have a fixed negative image of the child. He or she is seen as unchangeable, an image that may be powerfully reinforced by the recollection of the adolescents many failings: repeated acts of rebellion, words of rebellion, and looks of rebellion.
The devil knows how to use this image to undermine effective prayer. He suggests to the unsuspecting parent that this image of cold resistance is the final vision of the child. “This thankless child cannot be changed,” says the Master of Darkness. Listening uncritically to this voice, the praying father or mother then naturally lets the mind become fixed on the child’s stubbornness. Who can pray effectively when the mind is clouded by this picture of steely resistance?
To overcome this, simply shift the mind to the promises of divine grace found in the Scriptures. As a parent, focus your faith by meditating on a great biblical passage like Luke 15, in which you see the great images of faith. You discover the Father’s grace in action. Lost things do not remain lost; they are found. The dead come alive. The lost sheep is found by the shepherd, the lost coin by the housewife, and the lost son is welcomed home with almost scandalous warmth by a loving father. When you think about these things, you’ll realize that the Father loves even you, the parent, as a lost child that has been found. Will he not love your child the same way?”
I agree with Mr. Miller’s advice. We must cling God’s promises, though I wouldn’t use the word “simply” to describe the process of shifting the mind to God’s promises of grace. It’s a battle to believe God can change the hardest heart, bring glory out of devastation, and make rebels into servants. But God can do the impossible, even as he sought me when I was a self-centered, disrespectful, ungrateful, pleasure-seeking sinner and changed me.
Here are 2 promises (among many) to cling to and pray:
All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. (Isaiah 54:13)
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21)
photo by repolona