P.U.L.L. Your Children Back to Jesus (Pray, Understand, Listen, Love)

christian family stewardship christian parenting Apr 07, 2024
bring your children back to the cross and Jesus

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

– Luke 15:20



A sobering recent statistic has revealed that somewhere between 60-70% of kids raised in Christian homes will fall away from the faith as they grow older and enter the world. This is even true of children who were involved in their churches and attended Christian schools. Like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, parents who experience this heartbreaking reality can feel as though they’ve lost their child or failed them, desperately desiring to see them restored to the church and their faith. It is a helpless feeling that even the most diligent parents can experience, and many are unsure of how to talk to their grown children about their concerns. The helpful strategy explained below can be a starting point for parents, grandparents, or even friends who have loved ones walking away from the faith they once proclaimed to embrace.


P – Pray

The first and most important tool we have in our belts as Christians is prayer. Of course, the need to pray for a wayward child is obvious, but parents should also be praying for themselves, and that God would give them wisdom to handle their reality in a God-honoring way. Parents can pray that sinful choices and actions will have negative and disappointing consequences, and that poor influences will be removed from the life of their child. They can also pray that the eyes of their child are open to the foolishness of the world, that their hearts will be drawn back to the truth of the Bible, and that God will place godly people in their path to point them to Him.


U – Understand

Understanding why a child has walked away from their faith is an important piece of parenting well through circumstances like this. Rather than being reactive, striving to understand where your child is coming from will show them that you are interested in their thought processes and reasoning. If you are calm and curious in your conversations with them, they are more likely to feel heard and – hopefully – have a softer heart when you respond. If you can, getting the perspective of their friends is also helpful. They might have information that you don’t. Ultimately, accept that you may not understand why they are making the choices that they are, but try not to show your frustration. Your goal is to keep the conversation open, not closed, and anger will slam that door shut. We also encourage you to remember that many things are probably at play. First, there is the reality that all of us are constantly fighting against the world, the devil, and our own sinful nature. And second, getting to this place of rejecting Christianity has probably been a process in the making for quite some time. It took them a while to get here; it might take them a while to get out.


L – Listen

Just like frustration, verbal attacks are a sure-fire way to shut down conversation. Do your best to avoid the lecture circuit, no matter how much you want to give them a piece of your mind. If you demonstrate your willingness to listen, they are much more likely to do the same. You are also showing your child that no matter their choices, you are always approachable and ready with a hear them. Being quick to listen and slow to speak is always good advice! If your adult child has a family of their own, having this same posture toward their spouse is wise as well.


L – Love

No matter how you feel about your child’s actions, your unconditional love for them must be evident and immovable. This does not mean you must approve of the decisions they make or help them continue to make them. Enabling is not the same as unconditional love. No matter how many sins the Prodigal Son committed, his father still loved him fiercely. God is the same with us, and we are called to be a reflection of this to our children as well. Find opportunities to express your love to your child and demonstrate that no matter what they do, you still love them. You can build them up with your words, serve them with your actions, send them letters of encouragement, and speak well of them to others.



Watching your child reject the faith of your family isn’t something that any one of us would ever wish to experience. It is heart-wrenching, difficult, awkward, and hurtful. But having a specific plan to try and keep your relationship healthy can go a long way. Ultimately, the salvation of our children depends on the goodness of God alone. In His kindness, He has designed parents to be a means by which He draws His own to Himself. Take comfort in the fact that God loves your child even more than you do, and He holds all of you in His hands.


Key Points

  • Prayer is the best tool God has given us.
  • If you want to maintain your influence on a wayward child, it’s important to show them that you are trying to understand and listen to them.
  • God is sovereign over the salvation of our children.
  • God loves your child more than you do, and He can be trusted with the outcome.


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