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How to Pray for a Wayward Child

Pinocchio was a blockhead. His father, Geppetto, did everything he could to counsel his son, give him direction, and help him speak truth. Geppetto was a great parent, but that didn’t prevent his child from getting in with the wrong crowd and becoming influenced by a world that looked more exciting than the one Pinocchio knew.

One helpful thing parents can do is remember that they, too, were once children faced with worldly decisions. They can look in the rear-view mirror and reflect that God isn’t done with us just because we make mistakes. God doesn’t give up on any of His wayward children. He didn’t give up on you back then and won’t give up on your child or grandchild now. Keep praying.

A short review of the history of God’s chosen people offers us great examples of their wayward, continually errant behavior. Even though the children of Israel were guided by the great patriarch, Moses, and by the cloud to shield them by day and the fire to guide them by night, they had trouble listening to what God wanted for them and were intent on getting into trouble. Almost as quickly as God bailed them out, they started whining and complaining again. It appears God has always dealt with rebellious children.

So where does that leave us when we’re concerned for the welfare of a child we love? What can we do to bring them back to a safer place that protects them from emotional, physical, and spiritual harm as they grow? For one thing, we can remember that prayer is a powerful equalizer and makes a difference.

What are some ways a parent or caregiver might seek guidance through prayer?

1. Pray for help for yourself as a parent. In other words, pray that you are open to God’s guidance and direction, specifically about your child.

2. Pray you will see your child as God sees that child. If you don’t know what motivates your child or what interests your child, ask God to show you how you might find a meaningful connection and a place for conversation to begin.

3. Pray for honesty. Be prepared to own some responsibility for the difficulty your child is facing now. This is not to place you at fault but to allow you both to share honest feelings about why the trouble is brewing.

4. Pray for wisdom to act in ways that give your child the sense of being not judged but listened to and heard, heart to heart. Ask God to help you and your child reveal any secrets that are getting in the way of conversations you might have.

5. Pray for the right person or group to come into your child’s life and be a positive influence.

6. Pray for a spirit of forgiveness in the same way the father forgave the Prodigal Son in the Bible.

Train Up a Child

Proverbs 22:6 and Proverbs 6:22

Most parents are intentional about teaching their children how to make good choices. We want them to be fair to others and respect voices of authority. We may also intentionally train our children in spiritual matters, in learning more about what God would say are good choices. Proverbs 22:6 is often used to illustrate the point that if we train a child in the “way” to go, at some point, they will embrace the “way” for themselves. That could be true, but Proverbs 6:22 is actually a similar admonition to the one given the Hebrew children in Deuteronomy 6:8.

It gives us clear and specific instruction. Believers are responsible and privileged to tell others (including our children) what God has done. It suggests that we can do this all the time. We can tell them God’s stories when we walk down the road, sit down, or rise up. We can bind the stories to our hands or tie a scarf around our foreheads. The idea is to create a reminder always to tell the stories God has given you.

When we do, God can bring those stories to mind in the hearts of the people we love. When they have choices to make or struggle with determining right and wrong, they will have many examples. The more these stories are shared, the more real they become, and the easier it will be to bring them to mind.

Our prayers help us trust in God Himself, believing that our children are firmly placed in the palm of His hand and that He will never forsake them. When we pray, our hearts and minds can find peace because we know God loves our child even more than we do. Surrender your child to God and trust Him to work things out.

Along with praying for a spirit of forgiveness, you may be called to lean in and listen to your child more closely and intentionally than you ever have before. Pray about when to stand your ground and when to compromise so you can do the right thing at the right time. Pray for strength and a positive attitude to do all you can. Whatever happens, pray to trust God with the outcome.

Pray about whether you need a professional counselor to help you through the process. If so, then pray for the right counselor for your child. Choose someone they will be comfortable with.

Love is the answer!

When it comes to your child, love is indeed the answer. Pray that your attitude toward your child will be one of respect, grace, and mercy. If you struggle with that, stop everything and ask God to remind you how His great love has made a difference in your life. Rest in His warm embrace and know that He is with you as you seek solutions for your child’s difficulties.

Though Pinocchio stumbled along and told one lie after another, His father Geppetto never gave up. He loved him into being what God intended, a child with a warm and loving heart.

Trust, believe, and pray!

Karen's newest release, Prayers to Strengthen Your Soul: 365 Daily Prayers – Refresh Your Prayer Life and Connect with God, will help you connect with the still, small voice of God. With the demands and distractions of life, it doesn’t take long for worry and doubt to threaten your peace, overwhelm your mind, and steal your joy. The God of the universe hears your needs and longs for a personal relationship with you. All you have to do is listen and pray. Prayers to Strengthen Your Soul will refresh and guide your prayer life with daily Scripture-based prayers and thought-provoking questions to help you surrender your burdens and concerns to God, align your heart and mind with God’s will, and praise God through every season and circumstance. Draw near to God, find strength in his presence, and come alive as you walk faithfully with him. You can find her book here or learn more on her website.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/seb_ra

Karen Moore is the author of over 120 inspirational books, including her latest book, Prayers to Strengthen Your Soul: 365 Daily PrayersShe is also an author, coach, and speaker for writing and women’s conferences. Between Karen and her husband, they have six grown children and ten grandchildren, and currently work and live in Lady Lake, Florida. Her website is, and you can find her on Facebook @KarenmooreAuthorSpeaker.



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