Loving a Prodigal: The Enemy Looks for the Right Time

This is the fourth in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on TIME, which is the theme of the 2013 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals. This letter goes to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

One of the hardest parts of the wilderness journey with a loved prodigal is the roller coaster—the ups and downs, the unexpected turns, the dashed hope.I know.  I’ve been living it.  My loved one was making steady progress.  Better choices.  Greater stability.  Hope for a good future. I even wrote about a “Conversation with My Former Prodigal.”

Then hard things happened, pain seared, despair overcame.  Bad choices ensued. Old patterns returned.  I felt like we had reverted to 10 years ago.Why was I surprised?

We have an enemy.  And that enemy is after those we love:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion … looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10)

He is wily and smart.  He studies your prodigal and my prodigal—to know the right temptation, the most-likely-to-succeed stumbling block, the best time to attack.

Again, why should we be surprised?  He did it to our Lord.

When he followed Jesus into the wilderness, he was intent on destruction.  But he was clever.  He waited until Jesus was weak from hunger and thirst.  He used the Father’s own words—quoting Scripture repeatedly.  He offered Jesus shortcuts—an easier way—to what was already to be His: power, authority, immortality.

Jesus, of course, was not deceived.  He saw through the devil’s schemes.  He used Scripture to rebuke the devil, to resist him, to say “No!”

And then, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13

Satan is such an opportunist.

He is ever vigilant to capture our loved ones, to regain the advantage, to remind them of the pleasures of sin, to woo them back into places they have left. He watches for an opportune time.

We have some clear instructions:  “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

We can pray that our prodigals will remember the teaching they have received and resist the devil themselves.  But often they will not be at a place in their lives to do that.

So we must stand in the gap.

We must pray on their behalf.  We ask God to be their strong fortress, to protect them, to strengthen them.  We must take the offensive against the evil one, according to scriptural patterns.  (See Steps to Freedom in Christ and other resources from Neil Anderson and Freedom in Christ, and The Adversary by Mark Bubeck, plus many other resources on spiritual warfare.)

We must personally make sure we are resisting the devil and his temptations directed at us.  We must walk with Christ in humility and holiness and in the power of the Spirit.  All that we ask God to do on behalf of our prodigals we must ask Him to do for us as well.We must stand firm then, putting on the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

And thus deny the devil his chosen time.

In His Time,


What about you? What might be the devil’s opportune time with you?

C2013 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation. June 2 is our Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.