Fifty-five seems ancient to a forty-year-old, but to those who achieve the mid-century-plus-five milestone the season of life is bright with possibilities. Imagine a mortgage-free life. Picture the approaching carefree days of retirement peppered with tasks chosen for sheer enjoyment. Consider the second honeymoon of empty-nesting. Many Christian parents often discover this time has lost its luster, though, as their adult children chose to navigate life while leaving truth and faith behind.
At the child’s birth the parents vowed to do their best then sacrificed everything for Little Sammy’s voyage to manhood. Now Sammy’s decisions oppress Mom and Dad who sit in the quiet moments wondering, “Where did we go wrong?” The son (or daughter) spurns the values his parents desired above all else to impart to him, and Mom and Dad miss out on one of the greatest child-rearing blessings.
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4 NASB
Solid parenting requires teaching and modeling truth. Service to God and neighbors are priorities, and the home is structured as a greenhouse for spiritual development. But faith is an individual choice and cannot be forced on someone. Children must decide for themselves to embrace truth.
While raising their children to honor God devoted parents discover the reality of spiritual warfare. Children represent territory Satan desires to claim, and he will stop at nothing to turn a son or daughter from the path of righteousness. The forces of evil lose a battle when a child follows his parents in believing and serving the Lord.
What’s the solution? Can parents influence the spiritual lives of adult children? Lecturing and nagging do not spark the desired change. Legislating guidelines for the young adult’s new home is an ineffective and invasive attempt at resolution. Enabling the child’s poor choices in an effort to keep peace rarely leads to progress.
One action parents can employ to affect the wayward heart of an adult child has potential for unlimited change. Consider these simple words:
Pray without ceasing.
Buried in the book of Daniel, chapters 9 and 10, is an example of the intensity of this prayer. Daniel gave his attention to the Lord to seek Him and to find answers about the nation’s future. The word seek means to ask, beg, beseech, or request. The prophet fasted, donned sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on his head as signs of humility. He understood that only God can answer prayer, and he recognized the seriousness of prayer.
As the prophet prayed timidity dropped by the wayside, and boldness took the lead.
“O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open your eyes and see…O, Lord, hear! …O, Lord, listen and take action! …do not delay…”
Daniel 9:18-19 NASB Selected
Daniel chapter 10 explains the twenty-one day delay between the start of Daniel’s intense time of prayer and the arrival of the heavenly messenger who brought the answer. Satan dispatched his forces to impede the messenger. The Scripture describes the spiritual battle between the two sides. It’s scary stuff, even if some scoff at the account.
The tearful prayers of hurting parents reach the ears of God. He hears. He sees. He cares. The spiritual skirmish over the child’s heart is one the forces of darkness intend to win, but thank God for the option of influencing the outcome through prayer.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:11-12 NASB
- Parents should remain vigilant in prayer as they intercede for their adult children and implore Almighty God for His action. Young adults may spurn their upbringing, but they cannot overpower God when He draws them.
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…
John 6:44 NASB Selected
- Parents can cling to the hope that God shares their desire to see each person embrace truth and walk by faith. Wait with confidence, and trust Him.
God our Savior…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 NASB Selected
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 NASB
- Parents can demonstrate love. Is this assignment difficult? Certainly, but take comfort in the example of Jesus on his knees washing the feet of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed him (John 13). True love originates in the character of the giver, not the worthiness of the recipient.
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 NASB
Some adult children reject a relationship with parents. Overtures of reconciliation are rebuffed. Needed life changes seem light years distant, and parents reap hollowness from interactions. God understands the hurt.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Romans 12:18 NASB
Try without quitting. Love without limits. Pray without ceasing.
And hope in God.