Encouragement for the Parent of the Wayward Child

Parent, be encouraged. God is not finished with you. God is not finished with your child. Continue to pray as you also release yourself from being responsible for your child’s waywardness.
August 12, 2021

You did what the Bible instructed you to do. You participated in a family dedication service and agreed to raise your child in a Christ-centered home. You set an example as a Christ-follower and made church a priority for your child. Yet, you wait. Your child has wandered far from Christ, and you keep praying and waiting for your child to return to the Lord. If you are honest, you wonder what the second part of Proverbs 22:6 means regarding your child. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

When I was in seminary, I had a seminary professor who, like you, had been obedient to the Word to train up his child in the way she should go, but his child was far from the Lord in personal rebellion against God and the church. While Proverbs are instructions for wise practices and best suggestions for living in a relationship with God and others, Proverbs 22:6 is not a guarantee that each individual will submit their personal will to the Lord. My professor hoped that the second part of that verse meant that the truths shared with his daughter in infancy, childhood, and young adulthood would forever be cemented in her memory so that she would forever be reminded of the truth. He prayed that those things he had taught her, the things she had learned in Bible school, and the things she saw modeled by Christian leaders would continue to be things she heard and saw modeled in others around her. 

Here are four things to remember if your child is wayward:


God loves your child more than you do.

Psalm 139 proves that God was designing your child’s unique bent even before you knew about your child. God’s love was poured out for your child – even in your child’s rebellion. Romans 6:23 reminds all of us that even when we were sinners, Christ died for us. If God loves your child this much, you can be assured that He will continue to intersect your child’s life with biblical truth. 

You are not responsible for your child’s situation.

Too often, parents over-involve themselves in their children’s lives to the point that they feel that their success is tied to whether or not their child is thriving or oppositely; some parents blame themselves for their children’s failures. Release yourself from carrying your child’s burdens and lay those burdens with Jesus. (1 Peter 5:7)

Good Samaritans will speak into your child’s life, and you may never know (Luke 10:29-37), so pray for those Good Samaritans to speak truth to your child.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have counseled a young adult who is running from the Lord. Some of these young adults I knew as children and teenagers. Some I simply ran into as I went about my daily routine (divine interventions). Parents are waiting on the other side, praying for their children who have no idea their child has asked me for help. As I parent my young adults, I pray that Good Samaritans and influencers will continue to intersect their lives when I am not there to influence and advise. Every time I minister to a wayward young adult, I remind myself as a parent that in the same way, I am ministering to someone else’s child, I need to pray others will continue to intersect my kids’ lives.

Pray your wayward child hits rock bottom and remembers that Jesus has a better plan.

Pray Scripture and insert your child’s name in the passage. Proverbs 2:1-2 and Proverbs 4:11 are significant passages to pray daily over your wayward child. Just like Paul in the shipwreck on his way to Rome, that boat had to wreck for people to be saved. Those who could swim jumped overboard to swim to safety, those who could not swim grabbed onto the pieces of wood from the wrecked boat to get to shore. Without the wreck, there would not have been a rescue. Your child’s wreck might be the thing that leads them to the place needed for restoration with the Lord.


Parent, be encouraged. God is not finished with you. God is not finished with your child. Continue to pray as you also release yourself from being responsible for your child’s waywardness.