Loving a Prodigal: Always and Never

This is the sixth 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,

You are aware of the deal on “always” and “never”:

We know that, when we say our loved one “always” does something, or our prodigal says we “always” say some specific thing, it just isn’t true.  We are never that consistent—no one “always” does or says the same thing.

Then there’s the “never” jinx:  If that prodigal or we say to God we will “never” do something, there is a high probability we will do just that.

And all good communication or counseling teaching would say we should never use “never” or “always” in working through relationships.

But God seems to love these words, meaning “all the time” and “at no time.”He has some “always” and “never” instructions for us and then some promises to us.  Here are just a few mentions from Scripture:

Admonitions and Encouragement for Us[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

We love them, don’t we!  It’s a strong, deep love that gives so much and puts up with so much. Yet God calls us to some challenging “all the time”s: always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. Clearly that kind of love must be given to us by God Himself.

And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. (2 Thessalonians 3:13)

Over and over, as we live with and love our prodigals, we get to choose to do good to them, to do the right thing, to model what “good” looks like.  How weary we become.  Yet our Father, who is doing the same for us day after day, year after year, says, “Never tire of doing what is good.”

He shows us how it’s done, and He fills us with His Spirit to give us the power to keep doing good.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, (Colossians 1:3)

Of course, we pray for them.  We beg, we plead, we cry. But do we say “Thank You”?  God reminds us that our prayers for our prodigals should always include thanksgiving to God.  Thanks for what?  For God’s goodness and faithfulness, for our very much loved one, for the challenges and pain he/she causes us, for God’s good work in them and us—even if we can’t always see it.

Promises and Assurances from God“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Just before He departed the earth, the Lord Jesus promised his disciples—and us—that He would always be with them, with us.  We are never alone in this wilderness journey.  I think of Him leading the way, guarding behind me and walking beside me.

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Just in case we didn’t really believe that He is always with us, He gives us this powerful assurance. I especially love it in the Amplified version: [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] Wow!

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28)

I love this promise.  If our prodigals have become children of God at some time, though now they deny Him or walk away from Him, Jesus says He gives them eternal life and they shall never perish.  Thank You, Lord.  And as I see the constant attacks and pursuits of the evil one, how I claim that assurance that no one will be able to snatch them out of the hand of Jesus.

because he always lives to intercede for them.  Hebrews 7:25

We pray.  Oh, how we pray.  But sometimes I don’t know what to pray.  Too often I feel like my prayers accomplish nothing.  Then I remember:  Jesus always lives to intercede for them.  I am so grateful.

So my friends, may I encourage you to always believe and never give up.

In His Time,


What about you? What is God asking you to always do, or never do?

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.

Related posts:

Loving a Prodigal: In It's Time

A Little Rest and a Free E-Book

Grace Forgives