In a recent IBSA chapel when Nate Adams told the story his son’s coming home after a season away from God, there were sniffles. When he invited others to share stories of their own children who had returned, there were tears. And as expected, from my back-row seat, I could see our dear friend Pat Pajak on the front row, his head bent and his shoulders moving up and down. Pat always cries when he hears of someone coming to salvation. Decades later, his own amazing salvation story remains close. For those who sit behind him, Wednesdays prove emotional when the big man cries.
Nate’s account of being a prodigal’s father touched a nerve that day, as it did later when his column was published here. One after another, my friends and coworkers shared how someone special to them had strayed. Some had returned and are walking with the Lord again, but others who were the subject of many prayers had not. The common thread that ran through all the stories was their willingness to believe for a loved one’s repentance, and the unwillingness to give up.
I thought of my friends who prayed for their daughter for many, many years. She had been reared in church, in Sunday school, in choirs, in youth group. She made a profession of faith and was baptized, but then she walked away. A prodigal daughter. Her parents were faithful and dedicated to their church. They often asked others to pray for her. They grieved—and prayed. Eventually a health issue in middle age threatened her life. God used it to get her attention and bring her home.
I was reminded of George Muller, the founder of orphanages in Bristol, England. In 1844 he committed to daily prayer for five lost people. A couple of them were children of his contemporaries. The first was converted after 18 months. The second came to faith five years later. In another six years, the third one was saved. Through it all, Muller never quit praying, for five decades. Soon after Muller’s death in 1898, the remaining two came to Christ.
Jesus’ instruction in Luke 18:1 applies here: “Now he told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up.”