Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Linger

Once a month I write a letter to the wonderful Prayer for Prodigals community I am part of.  Often those letters, though specific to those who love a prodigal, apply to any or all of us in the challenging circumstances of life.   Today we consider an invitation to linger.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

“I have a regular phone call with a group of young believers,” the professor from a South Asian nation explained. “These new followers of Jesus need to learn to linger in prayer.”

I was struck by the word “linger.”

My husband and I spent a recent morning at the Bridges Vision Conference at Daytona. More than 1000 international students gathered to explore the person of Christ and their relationship to Him. Some were long-time believers, many were recent followers of Jesus and quite a few hadn’t entered such a relationship with Christ.

Steve and I had the privilege of sharing how God had worked in our lives with several groups of students—a special opportunity. We are grateful.

For me, though, the idea “to linger in prayer” lingered in my mind.

For much of my life, I didn’t linger much.

My husband would tell you that one of my frequent responses to requests to do something would be: “That doesn’t fit in my schedule.”

My younger daughter would tell you that too often as a child she heard her mother say, “Hurry up. We’re late.”

Even Jesus, who lingered often with the Father, would tell us that His disciples couldn’t linger with Him. In the Garden He asked the three closest to him, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:36)

I hadn’t thought much about a word for 2017. I didn’t choose one last year—and God had lots of surprises over the months.

But as I have pondered lingering, my heart and mind have felt increasingly drawn to it. Perhaps that is exactly what I need at this too busy season of my life.

To linger—with my husband who, though surely with more responsibilities than I have, is much more likely to linger with people.

To linger—with my kids and grands. So many good things happen when I do that. And for those of us who love a prodigal it is especially needful for us to linger with them and with other family members who might get neglected.

To linger—with the people who are a part of my life and the ones God brings into my life. For those of us with prodigals, lingering with others in a similar place can encourage them and us.

To linger—most of all to linger with God. Surely to cry out for my loved one. To pray for others in much need. And especially to dwell in His presence, sensing His love and compassion, gaining wisdom and strength and perseverance for this difficult journey.

Whether or not “linger” is your word for this year, I’m sure you would be blessed and helped by abiding with Jesus on a consistent basis. To petition for your loved one, but primarily to be loved by God.

A blessing for your new year:

May you live from a grateful heart, a humble spirit and kind actions.

May you hope in the goodness of God and assurance of His love for you.

May God surprise you with His blessings every day.

With love and gratitude that you are in my life,


What about you? Do you have a word for 2017?

C2017 Judy Douglass

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.