How to Win the Battle for Your Prodigal’s Heart

Winning the Battle for Your Prodigal’s Heart through Prayer

I’m not gonna lie, this ‘how to win the battle for your prodigal’s heart’ isn’t one I wanted to know how to write. However, this is a battle we can win because the main thing I want to tell you today is prayer works. They’re called prodigals for one reason and one reason alone. A Prodigal is defined  by Merriam-Webster as one who has returned after an absence. In a spiritual sense, I think we could say, one who leaves home, squanders their inheritance, but later makes a repentant return.

Most importantly, a prodigal has known the Father's heart; it's what makes them a 'prodigal.' Prodigals inherently know their way back home. Click To Tweet

A prodigal’s prayer of promise for your mama-heart: Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but someday you will.” John 13:7 (NLT)

Prodigals Prayer Winning the Battle for Your Prodigal's Heart

“Going to the river to pray.” Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash.

We can’t always know what God is up to, but because of His character we can know He’s up to something good! He loves our kids more than we do; our part is to have faith. We get to partner with God and pray the prayers that move His heart and bring the breakthrough.

But, what exactly is faith and how can it help us to win the battle for our prodigal’s heart?

“To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (GNT)

Sweet mama (or papa), I understand your pain in praying for your prodigal’s heart. I’ve felt the sting of regret and believed the lie I’ve failed as a parent. But, God’s Word has something very specific to say about those lies. Listen to God’s heart in regard to our enduring faith in this tell-tale passage from the book of James. The testing brings the power.

For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking. And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.  James 1:3-5 (TPT)

See, our faith gives us the endurance we need to win the battle for our prodigal’s heart. Praying hard and standing strong in our faith brings the change we want to see. Honestly, I am an authority in this. In fact, I might even be an expert. Why? Not because I’ve been praying for my prodigal for years, but because I was a prodigal.

I am a prodigal come home.


Like the woman who loved much because she’d been forgiven much, it was a radical encounter with Jesus that changed me. While in my deepest pit of sin, my heart changed and it brought me back to Jesus. I came home. Not after I had cleaned up my act, but in the middle of my mess. Thankfully, God doesn’t stop pursuing us when we are His. I can remember times of being heartbroken, but not so badly that I was ready to change. Can anyone else relate?

Fortunately, this is the place we can make the biggest difference in our prodigal’s lives. By letting love rule the day, we make the way for the breakthrough to begin.

It wasn’t religion that brought me back to Jesus. It was all about a relationship with Him. There was a distinct moment where I finally understood He saw my sin and loved me anyway. More than a “fix-it Jesus!” prayer, we’ve got to press in and pray for deliverance, transformation, and a radical God-encounter for our prodigal’s heart. This is why I say…

“Praying for our kids to lose their religion may just be the most powerful and effective prayer we can pray!”

Surprised? You heard me correctly. Praying for our prodigals to lose their religion may just be the prayer that works. Why? Because just Jesus is what they need and want. They aren’t interested in rules when they are hanging out in their rebellion. One encounter with God brings the breakthrough we long for in their lives. With this prayer, we can strip way the false doctrines, lies, and misconceptions they’ve owned along the way. By praying scripture over their lives we can break down strongholds and prepare the way for them to come back home.

Honestly, what is it that we want as a parent? Behavior change, right? We want them to stop doing what they’re doing and come back to Jesus. But, the thing God wants most is a heart change. Remember the Woman at the Well in John 4? Jesus knew only a heart change would change this woman’s behavior. He didn’t condemn or the woman caught in adultery either. He didn’t preach to them about their sin, never said, “I told you so…” In fact, he never asked them to change before they could be in relationship with Him. These tactics won’t work in our parenting. The key to behavior change is heart change…just Jesus.


So what are we to do to help win the battle for our prodigal’s heart?

Fortunately, as our kids become young adults and we lose the power to take things away or ground them, we have only one effective tool left in our parenting plan. For the prodigal, owning their relationship with Jesus instead of resenting their parent’s religion changes their focus from rebellion to restoration. Our responsibility is to pray. It’s essential. God says so in Ephesians.

In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters (and prodigals). Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. Ephesians 6:18 (MSG) *emphasis mine

The most effective keys we have for surviving the prodigal parenting years (yes, I said years, sorry this is a long process) are as follows:

  • Find someone who knows their salvation story. Retelling their story will strengthen your heart to have faith in the most difficult circumstances. I have a children’s pastor I call. I say, “Tell me again. You were there. You saw it all. It really happened.”
  • Recount the time you’ve seen God show up in their lives; a time God brought comfort in physical or emotional pain, a time of healing, a funny story when they were kids. One time my oldest said, “He was packing his suitcase for Heaven.” The cuteness will bring you joy.
  • Know this: they have a prodigal’s heart. They have known God at some point in their lives. Otherwise, we’d call them unbelievers. They are prodigals because they are marked by God.
    It may feel as though the world has kidnapped them, but the prodigal's ransom has been paid in blood by Jesus on the cross. Click To Tweet

I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from me. I and the Father are one.” John 10:28-30 (TLB)

  • Stay focused on the future by hanging onto hope. Pray scripture as promises over your prodigal’s life. Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB), Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) Phil 3:12-14 (TPT)
  • Exchange your way for God’s way. His ways are higher We won’t always understand His ways, but we can trust His character. Job 42:3

Sweet friend, mama or papa of a prodigal, I am right there with you in this one. I’ve been walking this road for longer than I’d like to admit. But, there is hope because Jesus is our hope.

We’re in a club we never signed up for; no longer members of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) at church, but Mothers (and Fathers) of Prodigals in real life.

We have no other choice than to surrender to God and to the many unknowns. But, we can experience Real Victory because we have authority when it comes to praying over our prodigal’s heart and life. Let’s rise up in victory and not let the enemy have any more ground in our own lives while praying for theirs.  We are better together and I’m in this with you.

A Prayer for Strength as You Battle it Out for Your Prodigal’s Heart

God, we don’t understand what you are doing, but we’re trusting one day we will! We don’t see how this is part of Your plan. Or, how You will ever bring good from our pain. It’s ugly, Lord. Will you make something beautiful in Your time? We believe, but, oh, help our unbelief. Help us to surrender to Your perfect timing when what we really want is change. And, we want it now.

Perhaps you are saying, “I don’t want to do today, Lord. I don’t want to say goodbye, again. I don’t want to show up in court or go to parent-teacher conferences.” I’ve been there. May God help us to remember that in our weakness, He is strong, our victory belongs to Jesus, and He is our wrap-around shield. He goes before us and behind us and walks beside us down this long Prodigal Road.  He isn’t surprised by any of what we’re facing today. I pray He gives each of us strength and discernment and even a little joy along the way. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

Living in Victory,


© Amy Elaine Martinez and, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amy Elaine Martinez and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Cheyenne L Olson on October 20, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    I love you so and I love your heart. This message brings tears to my eyes and hope to my heart. This is truly a spiritual battle. On our knees with will be won.

    • Amy Elaine Martinez on October 21, 2018 at 9:37 am

      Cheyenne thank you for your sweet words. Yes, this is a battle we can win in Jesus’ name. xoxo- amy elaine

  2. Rebecca Jones on October 22, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    I love that story, I think the father’s love must have really changed him. Too often we see prodigals go right back the way they came.

    • Amy Elaine on October 22, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      They do have a tendency to go back, but at some point I think I just grew so tired of myself and the consequences of my behavior. I knew surrender to His ways was the only way I could really change my situation. Thanks for commenting today, Rebecca!

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