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Spiritual Weapons for Wayward Kids

What can you do when your grown children begin to stray spiritually? I’ve seen a lot of parents hurt, mystified, and shaken by sudden and radical spiritual changes in the lives of their adult children. I realize, one day I may be one of them—and so could you.

In these moments, some parents grasp for control—trying to maintain a mythical strangle-hold of childhood authority. This always escalates a situation to become worse and creates greater distance relationally and spiritually. In a wild swing to the other extreme—some parents abandon their post of parental influence. They mentally, emotionally, and spiritually disconnect with an “oh well” resignation, as if there is nothing they can really do.  Others respond in anger—returning hurt for hurt.

Recently, Dana and I prayerfully and fearfully sat down with some parents who were facing circumstances in which we all felt powerless. Together, we rediscovered the weapons God had given us to fight battles that are far beyond our human control. And together, we saw God work a miracle. These are the weapons that God gives us all to use against impossible circumstances:

Unconditional Love and Acceptance—regardless what my child does, how my child hurts me, or how far out of bounds my child behaves—I will choose to respond with Christ-like compassion and unconditional love. This is a powerful weapon that speaks to the heart and the conscience. By the way, acceptance of a person does not equal approval of sin.

Godly Grace—regardless of what my child has done, I extend grace—unmerited favor. Just as grace is God’s response to my sin, grace will be my response to my child’s sin. Grace is always undeserved, and is the most powerful resource for creating an environment where repentence and change are possible.

Intercessory Prayer—this weapon brings all the powers of Heaven to work in the situation. It is the single most powerful and yet most neglected response to any strained relationship.

God’s Word—opinions and personal preferences matter little, but the principles of God’s Word are powerful. When battles of the will only escalate a situation, the principles of God’s Word speak to the heart with the potential of lasting life change.

Patient Endurance—change takes time. Repentence is rarely instantaneous. Parents who win these battles never give up (emphasis on NEVER.) They faithfully and persistently use these weapons until the battle is won.

These are weapons of the Spirit. Think about it:

  • Weapons of flesh will react, weapons of the Spirit will respond.
  • Weapons of flesh will lash out. Weapons of the Spirit will reach out.
  • Weapons of flesh desire retribution. Weapons of the Spirit desire reconciliation.
  • Weapons of flesh will seek control. Weapons of the Spirit will seek influence.
  • Weapons of flesh will make demands. Weapons of the Spirit will make pleas.
  • Weapons of flesh will acuse. Weapons of the Spirit will accept.
  • Weapons of flesh will return hurt. Weapons of the Spirit will return grace.
  • Weapons of flesh will argue. Weapons of the Spirit will reason.

Here they are again: unconditional love, godly grace, intercessory prayer, God’s Word, and patient endurance.

Take hope, parent! If you are facing impossible circumstances and you feel hopeless and powerless—there is much you can do to fight a spiritual battle for your wayward child! God’s work is not finished in your child’s heart, and God’s Word is still powerful to change lives!

In reality, these weapons are effective in any broken or strained relationship. About the time you think there’s nothing you can do, about the time you want to over-react or fight in the flesh—these are the only weapons that can truly make a difference. May God give us wisdom to fight our relational battles in the wisdom of His Word and the power, and filling of His Holy Spirit.

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  • Great article. I have forwarded it to some of my church members who struggle with how to deal with their wayward adult children. Thank you for your Encouraging Words!

  • This is a wonderful article! Especially the differences between weapons of the flesh and the Spirit! A couple in my church had a son who had done some wicked things, and he was out of church for 5 years. however, they never stopped praying for him. Because of their prayers, God convicted his heart, he repented, and now he is back in church serving the Lord.

  • This and all of your articles are filled with great wisdom. We are proud of you and your work for the Lord and so happy to hear your good report from the doctor.

  • Pingback: Restitution: An Often Overlooked Step To A Clear Conscience! | The Working Pastor

  • Thank you for your ‘Encouraging Words’, I have read them on and off for a while, but tonight, feeling a bit discouraged by an event of the day…..I sat down and read this…, my wayward children were not first and foremost on my mind as they usually are….today’s sadness comes from a fellow ‘christian’….anyhow, in reading this post, I feel so ‘encouraged’ about the problem/issue/circumstance or whatever you want to call it with my older children…not living for God, far from the place they were raised and sometimes thinking they will never find their way back!
    God is not weak and HE doesn’t get weary like we do. HE loves that child more than we ever could! We tend to get “put down’ by other christians that in their own minds think by loving our children we are condoning their way of life….we never do that! We show grace and mercy and love to sinners just like Jesus/God did and does daily for us!!! Thank you so much, again, for your encouraging words and the reassurance to know we are attempting to do the right thing by God.

  • Our 19 yr old son just moved across the country with his 20 yr old unsaved girlfriend. He claims to be saved but there has never been any fruit. Our home has always been very stable, and my husband is a godly man and leader. Our goal has always been to raise godly kids, not just good kids. (We have one other son who is 17.) We have always been faithful to church. We homeschooled during their first few years of school and then they attended Christian school. We know that we are not perfect parents, but we believe we have provided a good, loving, consistent home with the goal of pleasing the Lord and serving him. Now I get to my question… son has only been gone for 2 weeks. He and his girlfriend told me numerous times before they left that they want me to come visit. My husband says I cannot go. ( even if I stay in a hotel). Someone else in our church was telling us that when their children were rebelling against God (and claimed to be saved) that they would not fellowship with them, eat with them, step into their home, etc. I am sure this was based on I Corinthians 5:11-13. I feel very unsure of how to handle this situation. How do we extend unconditional love and grace? Does this scripture passage apply to a parent/child relationship?


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