by Luann Prater
" 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.' "
(Luke 15:18-19 ESV)
"Kay was a prodigal. She had been stunningly beautiful, but now her beauty was hollow and worn. Downcast with shoulders slumped, she walked throught the doors of her childhood church.
"Heads turned and whispers hollowed her as she made her way to the front of the church during an invitation to come forward for prayer. She fell to her knees at the altar. A group gathered around her and prayed for what seemed like an eternity. She slowly rose to her feet and was asked, 'Did you pray through?' to which the weary wanderer replied, 'I think so.'
"I don't remember seeing Kay back in church again.
"In my church, the phrase 'pray through' was synonymous with striving, staining, and working to find grace and deliverance. When I became a prodigal myself and wanted desperately to find answers and deliverance, I remembered Kay's forlorn look and decided to keep wandering. It just seemed easier than trying to 'pray through.'
"Have you been wandering, looking for answers? Do you long to return to the Father after being far away but hesitate, wondering how you will make it back to Him and what it will cost you?
"When coming 'back home' we often have the same mentality as the prodigal sone (Luke 15:18-19). Feeling worn down and unworthy, we come to our Father thinking we have to work like hired servants to earn our place.
"After many years, I discovered that forgiveness and salvation aren't chores for us to labor over. They are free gifts from an amazing God! Jesus offeres these gifts to all who believe in His name.
"Jesus says, 'Come to me.' Period. It really isn't any more complicated than that. He loves you. He has been waiting for you and He welcomes you with open arms. We don't have to work for forgivenss or 'pray through' like those well-meaning people in my childhood church felt the need to do.
"God's heart for us is the same as the father's heart for his prodigal son: 'But while (the prodigal son) 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)."
This is the bulk of it. I hope it gives hope.