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4 Prayers for the Mother with Wayward Children

Carolyn Dale Newell

Carolyn Dale Newell

Contributing Writer
Published: Jun 15, 2022
4 Prayers for the Mother with Wayward Children

I am able to encourage you through this journey because I have walked it myself. Never lose hope.

My life took a drastic change on September 18, 2006. That’s the day my eighteen-year-old daughter walked out of the house and out of our lives for eight years. It felt like forever.

Enveloped in helplessness, I began looking back trying to figure out which signs I had missed. In the weeks prior to her leaving, she had treated me with disdain, but she refused to answer me when I asked her what was wrong. Now I knew. She had been planning this all along.

I didn’t think I would ever make it through this feeling of loss and betrayal. Tears flowed constantly, and I wanted the pain to end. I slipped into a deep depression as suicidal thoughts plagued me. How could I survive?

If you are a mom with a wayward child, you have tasted that same sorrow, confusion, heartache, and possibly depression too. Eight years passed before she reached out to me. I wish I could tell you about a glorious reunion, but it has been a hard road to travel. Even now, she remains distant. I’m sure some families celebrate happy reunions, so don’t give up hope. I want to come alongside you and offer a hug and a prayer for the places your heart will take you in this heart-wrenching journey.

A Prayer for Sadness

Just between us, we’ll call this grief because that best describes how we feel. Thank God, our children are still alive, and it’s certainly not the same grief of a parent whose child has died. 

Yet, the house suddenly grows too quiet. Each new day greets us with the reminder that our beloved child no longer lives here. We might not even know where they live or how they are doing. We stumble through breakfast, only to have to get through lunch, dinner, and bedtime where sleep evades us.

Even a trip to the grocery store reminds us of their absence. We no longer buy all the junk food they ate. 

In spite of all the unknowns, we know Someone who knows exactly where our children are. God watches them, and now more than ever, we take comfort in that. We draw so close to God because He is our only connection to them. He loves us and He loves our children more than we do. He wants to pour out His comfort on us.

Lord God, thank You for being my loving Father and the God of comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). Even though I don’t know where my child is, You do. Lord, You heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds (Ps. 147:3). Right now, my heart has broken into a million pieces. This is a loss I cannot bear, but I know I can do all things through Your strength (Phil. 4:13). This feels impossible. Joy is so distant, and I can’t consider anything joyful about this trial (James 1:2). 

Please remove this pain, and renew my joy one day. Watch over my child while I cannot. Like the psalmist, my tears have been my food day and night (Ps. 42:3). That same psalm reminds me to put my hope in You. It reminds me to praise You (Ps. 42:5). Lord, I do praise You. I thank You for what You will do. I will lift up Your name especially when I don’t feel like it because You will carry me through this. Help me sleep tonight, and rescue me when I awake to this nightmare in the morning. I love You, Lord. For Your glory, see me through this. 

In Jesus’s name. Amen.

A Prayer Concerning Guilt

“You’re a good mother.” My pastor’s deep voice rang out. I couldn’t respond. Was I a good mother? Because right now, I felt like a failure.  

“You know that, don’t you?” He forced me to answer. “Yes, I know.” I sniffed back tears.

The people I placed blame on were her friends and co-workers. They had filled her head with junk. I didn’t know where they lived, but she lived with them. Even when they moved out of state, I heard she went with them. It’s weird to learn about your child from other people.

My pastor reinforced the good mother role so much that it sounded like a broken record, but through the years, I’m glad he did. As time passed, I had begun pointing out my mistakes as a parent. Perhaps I deserved this. Then I would hear my pastor’s voice in my head. 

I am thankful for his wisdom to cement that into my thoughts. At some point, we find something to feel guilty about. Was I too strict, or not strict enough? 

I shouldn’t have allowed her to work at that restaurant. 

I should have praised her more. 

I shouldn’t have yelled at her when she broke my candle. 

We can drive ourselves mad with thoughts of guilt and shame.

The only perfect parent is our heavenly Father. All of us fall short, but we didn’t drive our children from our homes and out of our lives. Satan snuck into their lives. We cannot protect them from everything. The world fed that rebellious nature, and the child made the choice to leave us. Please don’t bear the guilt and shame of their choices. Yes, we all could be better parents, but we are only human.

Lord Jesus, You bore my sins on the cross. You also bore my failures, shame, and guilt. Thank You for carrying that burden so I don’t have to bear it alone (1 Pet. 5:7). Help me recognize the deception of the enemy as he continues to plant those thoughts of being a bad mom. Help me take those thoughts captive and remove them (2 Cor. 10:5). Replace them with the truth that I brought my child up in the instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). 

Pull down the strongholds of shame and guilt (2 Cor. 10:4). Help me continue to praise You as I cry, and set my mind on things above (Col. 3:2). For Your honor, Lord, not mine. 

In Jesus’s name. Amen.

A Prayer for Hope

Never let hope die. Christ is our hope. We grow weary of praying the same requests daily. Lord, save my son/daughter! Lord bring my child home! That hope is all we have to hold onto. 

I remind myself that I am probably the only one lifting her name up to Jesus. Even now that she has returned to my life, my daughter needs salvation, and I pray for that daily. My hope has wavered from time to time, especially when I see the bad choices she makes, but God does the impossible. No matter how far our children stray, they can’t outrun the hand of God.

Heavenly Father, Your Word says You hold no good thing from the upright (Ps. 84:11). I know without a doubt that You are able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all I ask or think (Eph. 3:20). You are faithful. You plan to give me a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). Deliver me when the enemy tries to steal my hope (John 10:10). 

In those moments, I get discouraged, but I choose to believe You will answer this prayer for salvation and a future reunion (Mark 11:24). Help me on those tough days when I want to give up. I do trust You. For Your glory. 

In Jesus’s name. Amen.

A Prayer for the Holidays

On our first Thanksgiving without my daughter, we drove home from the lockdown Alzheimer’s unit where my mom now resided. Mom had no clue that her granddaughter had abandoned us. Thank God, I didn’t have to explain that to her. Sometimes, I wished I couldn’t remember she was really gone myself. I broke down and cried on the way home. 

Then the first Christmas came around. Usually, I decorate in October, but not that year. I did absolutely nothing as far as decorating. I could barely stand to hear the ladies at church talk about what they planned to buy their daughters. They got to have a family Christmas, but not me.

My husband thought something new for the holidays was in order. We traveled to Tennessee and went to the Dollywood theme park where everything screamed Christmas. It did help me, except for one night in one of the theatres waiting for the show to begin. A stranger asked how many children I had. 

“I don’t have any children.” I lied to avoid the embarrassment.

The month of May felt like torture. Everyone had birthdays in May: my daughter, Mom, and me. Then, as you already know, Mother’s Day is brutal. I refused to go to church on Mother’s Day. How could I stand when they ask all moms to stand? Why couldn’t I travel to some foreign country that didn’t celebrate this highly commercialized holiday to avoid hearing the words, “Happy Mother’s Day!” Nothing was happy about it.

As Christmas and Thanksgiving improved slightly with time, May never got any easier. Neither did September 18, the day she left home.

Lord Jesus, I wish I could run away and hide during these holidays. I remember making sugar cookies every Christmas, but no more. Where is he/she spending this holiday? Each time the phone rings, my hopes rise only to come crashing down once again. It’s not fair that everyone else has a normal family, but not us.

I know Your Word says, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4). I’m just not feeling that now. Everyone is so happy and busy, but I feel so alone. Yet, I know You’ll never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5). I come to You with my burdens seeking Your comfort and rest (Matt. 11:28). I believe You work all things together for good (Rom. 8:28) although I have no idea how that will happen. 

You are my refuge and stronghold (Ps. 9:9). As I pass through these waters of despair, You are with me, and these flames of grief will not burn me (Is. 43:2). Thank You for getting me through this day. I can’t do it without You. For Your honor. 

In Jesus’s name. Amen. 

Sweet friend, I pray for you as I close, and I pray these prayers and Scriptures will be a comfort. Even though others have meant my suffering for evil, God has used it for good. I am able to encourage you through this journey because I have walked it myself. Never lose hope.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes

Carolyn Dale Newell headshot with dogChristian speaker and author Carolyn Dale Newell uplifts the hearts of readers with encouraging devotions on her website, A Mountain of Faith. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, with her husband, Tim, and her guide dog and ministry partner, Iva. You can connect with Carolyn in her women’s ministry group on Facebook.