I Am a Prodigal Daughter

Most of us who have been in the church for any amount of time have read the story of the prodigal son.  A young man, sets out on his own, only to squander his inheritance, forcing him to return to his father’s home, broken and penniless.We have perhaps even heard a few sermons preached on this parable. And from time to time, we may have even heard others (or even ourselves) refer to people we know as “prodigals.”

What we usually mean when we say this, is that so-and-so had walked away from Lord, but has now returned. They came back to the Lord, just like the son who returned home in the parable Jesus spoke.

I used the word prodigal from time to time and I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t really know what it meant. I assumed I knew and that was enough. Until one day, I heard a wiser older Christian in my life explain that when you run across a word in scripture that you don’t know, you should find a dictionary and look it up.

How novel, I thought. How very elementary school.

But one day, when reading my Bible, I found myself at the story of the prodigal son. Of course, the word “prodigal” isn’t actually used in scripture, but I suddenly had the idea to find that oh-so-childish-dictionary.

I was surprised to find that the word “prodigal” actually has nothing to do with the concept of returning or coming back to anywhere. In fact, it means something different all together.

But what is perhaps even more surprising, is that the real definition of “prodigal” did apply to me. I was a prodigal daughter and all that time, I had had no idea.

I was a prodigal daughter because just like the definition says, I was:

“Wastefully or recklessly extravagant; giving or yielding profusely; lavish; lavishly abundant; profuse.”

If ever a definition fit me, this was it. I was struck with the reality of the prodigal story and how it had become my story, as well. Two years after coming to know and believe in Jesus, I walked away from Him, deciding that the Christian life was just too hard. I didn’t know how to live an empowered and fulfilled Christian life.

I didn’t know how to let the Holy Spirit guide me and be my source for all that I needed. So I decided that doing my own thing would just be simpler. That I knew how to do and that I could do well.

And so I said goodbye to the Christian life and spent 2 long years consumed with my own reckless behavior, filling myself with anything that would help me forget the Truth– sex, drugs, material things. Eventually, I lost everything. I was brought to a point of complete desperation and knew that I had no choice, but to return to the Lord. I knew that my only hope really was in Him.

But my eventual return to the Lord is not what makes me a prodigal daughter. While yes, I eventually returned to my Father, I also squandered and wasted His riches while I was away. I defined what it meant to be a prodigal.

What I had failed to realize during those 2 years apart from God, is that upon knowing God, each and every one of us is filled with His Spirit. I mean, I knew this intellectually. I could recite verses to explain this mysterious and supernatural occurrence.

But what I didn’t really comprehend was that God was living inside of me, taking up residence in my very being–the indwelling of Christ.

So, that when I chose to be reckless and irresponsible with His gifts, I was acting as a prodigal daughter. When I told the Lord, for example, that I could make my own decisions, I was being wasteful with the very Spirit of God inside of me. How often, I have used the gifts of God for my own purposes, extravagantly lavishing them on the world, instead of using them to further His Kingdom.

And if like me, you ever found yourself far from your Father’s house, what ultimately led you back?  Like the son in the parable, did you simply return home because you found yourself destitute and starving? Perhaps this a portion of why we return to the Father, but what really brings us home is repentance.

The son had changed his heart. I had changed my heart. I no longer wanted to do the things I had done. I wanted to repent.

The parable of the prodigal son is really about repentance. It is really a parable that reminds us that His kindness leads to repentance. It reminds us that no matter how much we may squander and waste the Lord’s resources and gifts, we are always able to return home when we do so with a repentant heart. The Lord will always welcome us with open arms. I was a prodigal daughter, but now I am home…just where I was meant to be.

Have you ever walked away from the Lord? Or have you ever felt that you have wasted or squandered the gifts the Lord has given you? If so, how?

36 thoughts on “I Am a Prodigal Daughter”

  1. If you really think about it, the one who was recklessly extravagant and had spent everything was God. He was reckless in forgiving his repenting son, reckless in not holding his sin against him, and reckless in not giving him the punishment he deserved. He also “spent” his everything (Son) on us. He gambled the cosmos on fallen creatures and this is why He’s praiseworthy (at least to me).

    I know, this has almost nothing to do with your post and I apologize, it just brought memories of the great God we serve. (back to the box now)

    1. Reckless.

      Moe, your words brought tears to my eyes. He is reckless, isn’t He? Reckless, unrelenting, inescapable, irrefutable, undeniable, and totally Sovereign.

      My God, my God….how we owe you so much, and yet You ask for nothing but to be our Father.

    2. Dude,
      It has everything to do with this post and I wish I had thought to put it into such beautiful words!

      “He gambled the cosmos on fallen creatures and this is why He’s praiseworthy (at least to me).” I mean, really? Perfection.

      1. Right? Moe blew my mind today too. It is sooooo good.

        I’m never letting go of this. I will always think of this whenever I read or hear the story of the prodigal son. Our amazing Lord…

  2. Have I ever walked away from The LORD? Yep. For 2 years, 9 months, starting in 1994, following the betrayal of adultery by my first wife, and the ensuing misplaced anger and frustration at God our Father in my spiritual immaturity. I purposely rejected our Father, but I would not deny His existence. Even though I believed I hated Him, I couldn’t lie and say He wasn’t God. He simply lost me, as far as I was concerned, and I wanted to be far from Him.

    He was patient. He waited. He went to the edge of His Kingdom daily, looking down to see if I was approaching Him again. Some of my brothers called to our Father, telling Him to let me go, I was a lost cause, I had rejected Him. He didn’t listen. He was my Father, and His love was relentless.

    One day, after that 2 years and 9 months of rebellion, hedonism, and a driving, unrestrained anger, I found myself burnt-out. Literally. I was tired, oh so tired. I had tried so passionately to let that anger burn against our Father, and to do everything I knew He didn’t want me to do, and it took a toll not only on my flesh but also on my spirit.

    And what did our Father do and say when I fell before His Throne in repentance, sorrow, fear, and humility? He reached down, put His fingers under my chin and lifted my down turned face, wet with the hot tears of shame, to look into His, and said, “I know. I know. I knew all along. I am restoring you with ten times the faith you once had, and I will remember this day no more. I am The LORD. I am your Father.”

    Goosebumps? Oh yeah. Truth? Definitely.

    Now I am the covenant son who is writing these words on your blog. Simple and as cut-and-dry as that.

    Nice post, Nicole. Thank you for restoring to me the joy of my Salvation and sonship by walking down the corridor of this memory. God is, indeed, a good God; He is, truly, our eternal Father.

    1. Donald,
      This could be my own story…

      Praise to our God who forgives with a merciful heart, full of His grace and kindness.

      Of which I am the most undeserving, but all the more thankful for, as a result.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I’m in a situation right now, wondering if I’m squandering, or if I’m just simply tired of doing what the world tells me to do. I know confusion isn’t from God, so I’m between a rock and a hard place.

    1. Sundi Jo,
      Not knowing the specifics of your situation, I would guess that usually when it’s the world we’re trying to please, we will be left feeling empty and hopeless. I always err on the side of doing the opposite of what the world says.

      Praying God brings clarity and discernment to you, friend.

  4. Being prodigal would be totally against my nature, so alas, I am not the prodigal. I have to watch myself from becoming stingy with God’s gifts. I force myself to be generous and have a smile on my face while I’m doing it. Relating to the story, I have to watch from being the other son. :)

    1. “Relating to the story, I have to watch from being the other son. :)”

      That was refreshingly honest and brilliant! It is no crime nor ill-thing to be obedient and wishing to please God as Father. Many people look past that in the Prodigal Son parable. Wisdom, right there. Nicely said, happygirl. It needed to be said aloud, and you did it.

    2. So interesting that you brought this up, that you relate to the older son. I had never considered this as an option for people, until a group of women I was in a Bible study with expressed the same feelings.

      It was eye-opening for me, to say the least and I think the parable was meant to represent both types of individuals. Jesus does not forget about the older children.

      1. Also interesting, is that I believe Jesus was directing his parables toward to Pharisees in this case. They would have most related with the elder brother, the rule-following obedient son. This parable would have literally shocked the Pharisees. And the exchange between the father and elder son at the end of the parable tells us that the elder son was really missing the gospel. He felt he deserved and had earned the Father’s favor. There is so much depth here and although at one point I was the prodigal, I often now can become like the elder son as well. When I begin to think I have a RIGHT to something based on my obedience, I DESPERATELY need to be saved from myself.

  5. I love that the story is titled by who the son was before repentance. It makes me think or remember that it is not us turning back that makes the story. It’s God loving us while we are still the prodigal.

      1. “It is not about us returning, so much as His heart always waiting and ready to welcome us home!”

        AMEN! He is our beginning and our end; He is our Alpha and our Omega; He is the Author and Finisher of the life stories that we are!

  6. I was much like you although mine lasted a lot longer. I was definitely prodigal wasteful trying to fill life with what I didn’t know I already had. You had it right on, you can know all the memorization and facts you want, until i was able to connect my heart to the beautiful overwhelming power of the spirit I was exactly the same. Didn’t understand how to hear Gods wisdom so literally decided would pay attention later. I mean if I had to be honest I think I even had an age I would start “being good ” like 25 to be exact. That shows the misunderstanding of the heart connection right there. So incredibly thankful to my heavenly father for literally overwhelming me with a few “God sightings” (very powerful intense moments of the spirit, my own def) and calling me to him. In which I eventually did respond, a few years after the “25” deadline I guess I placed for myself. As we all know, matters of the heart and spirit are not always on our timing. Especially when we didn’t understand the difference. What I do love is now that I do understand all that memorization and teaching from my younger years has a whole new meaning and God brings it up to me in such a different way so am very thankful for that. Thanks I was given that as a child. So thankful for Gods grace and love for me.

    1. Oh Jen,
      This gets me chocked up, having known some of your walk and where God has brought you. I love this. You said: “until i was able to connect my heart to the beautiful overwhelming power of the spirit ”

      Amen! That is it. I have watched God open your eyes to the power of His Spirit and it is beautiful. Love you.

  7. Wow – thank you! I did not know that about the definition of PRODIGAL. I can use that this Sunday AM in my Bible study before church.

    If you can spare abt 45 minutes or so during a commute, doing housework, cutting the grass, here is a link to an mp3 live feed link – it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and well spoken teachings I have ever heard on the prodigal son, his father and brother. I can’t listen to it without tears. Some of the insights and cultural nuances that are brought to light are well worth it. go to:

    http://www.ccphilly.org/resources/audio-messages/
    (Calvary Chapel Philadelphia website – no I am not a member there, but the teachings are crisp and wonderful)….
    click on TOPICAL STUDIES tab…..
    pick LUKE from the pick list….
    and listen to teaching # 1471 – The Prodigal.
    be blessed by it and thanks again!

  8. @moe…………..WOW!!!!! that was very insightful and a different take on that parable……..can everyone pray for me that my mind and heart be more opened to all things of Christ?!

    1. I’ll happily pray for you Justin, and I’m sure many others already are!

      “Father, I love the way you draw people close to you and open their eyes. Thank you that Justin is sensing you today, and realizing Christ is his answer. Please give Justin the ability to let down all of his defenses and just surrender to you, because you are trustworthy, and loving, and gentle and kind. Help him to experience you as you let the blinders come off of his eyes so he can see you better today, Jesus!! Release him from the things that are taking up space and hindering him from loving you and knowing you intimately. We trust you are the one showing him the way to you, Lord!! Please send people to support and help him. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!!”

  9. I don’t know what led you to write/post this, but I believe it was meant for me. I am having a hard time in my life right now and I have been trying to find my way back to God. I didn’t run away from him completely, but I’ve been doing my own thing for the last few years and talking to God and asking for help only when it suited me. I have screwed up so much lately and I really feel like I have worried too much about my appearance (cars, clothes, jewelry, etc) to the point that we’re broke. It’s made me wake up and realize that it doesn’t matter what i’m wearing or if i have the perfect accessories for that outfit. None of that matters. Anyway, thanks for this.

    1. Marena,
      My heart leapt for joy when I read your comment. I bet I did post this today….just for you, because that is how our God works. He cares so intimately and passionately for you Marena.

      God desires to lavish riches upon you, His glorious riches, which do not come in the form of cars or clothing, but that which rust and moth cannot destroy. He has a beautiful, perfect plan for you and it is abundant–overwhelming abundant, in Him.

      I am praying for you sister, that the Spirit continues to move on you and in you, that you would let the things of this world that don’t matter fall away, and that your eyes would be opened to His glorious riches in Christ.

      Thank you for commenting here and blessing me in the process.

  10. I love this post and the comments.

    I was a prodigal, too. I put myself in Jesus’ hands when I was twelve. However, over time I became too focused on the world and trying to find the Christian mold to form me, thinking it was God’s mold for me. It is too hard to try and fit into another mold and I gave up. I never fully stopped believing in God, but I jumped out of His hands, ignored Him and did my own thing. Except for drugs, we have a similar story. Six years later, God called me back again, using an ungodly deacon to drive me into His arms. That is when I really felt the impact of the words “none can snatch them out of my Father’s hands (John 10:29). I was truly humbled and infinitely grateful that He would have anything to do with me, much less welcome me back as His lost daughter. As Moe said, my faith became so much stronger as a result.

  11. Thank you for sharing your experience and insight. As you noticed the word Prodigal is not part of the text. It might interest you that in German Bibles the story is called by Martin Luther (First Bible translator into a modern language) “The Lost Son” (Around 1527) in line with the “Lost Penny” and “Lost Sheep” next to it. The original Greek text did not have titles. The idea of calling it “the prodigal (wasteful) Son” came with the King James Version (1611) (Back than the word prodigal was common vocabulary) though they used Luthers translation. Thus it is a moral judgment of the times of King James. The German title suggests that the son is rather victim himself than perpetrator, passive than active, overwhelmed in a world without the guidance of his Father (God), not even realizing that what he thought he enjoyed in the end almost ruined him (I don’t mean he isn’t responsible for his actions).The parable was told to (self-righteous) listeners who could not understand why Christ would receive sinners into his fellowship. God rejoices more over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous ones who (think they) don’t need grace.

  12. Wonderful testimonies and replies and prayers!! Please pray for my two daughters, especially my oldest 16 year old. She is angry at me and God because I had to take her phone away and stop her friendship with her boyfriend because of some very serious issues that are unbiblical and illegal and we are doing more fun stuff with them and being patient and kind and doing a lot of God stuff too. Praying that the soul tie would be broken and she would come to her right mind. She still talks to him on the Internet at her dad’s, she lies to him about this boy and he doesn’t check. Thank you for the encouragement.

  13. So so good! The article AND the comments! Thank you all for your openness. <3
    We have a prodigal daughter right now who has turned her back on God and on the principles and morals with which she was raised. Breaks her dad's and my hearts. Sure would love to have some input, suggestions of words to speak/send to her. We love her and miss her terribly. But we first and foremost want her restored with her Heavenly Father. Thank you again and any help would be so appreciated.

  14. I saw this only now. In 2017. So many years later. But this is what I exactly wanted. God is unexplainable. His love is something I think which cannot exist in a fallen world like this. I was saved from my sinful life and he gave me everything I wanted in my life. Money job dreams everything. But when I started drifting from his plans I started losing my desire for god. But he still kept doors opened for me. I returned to my old sin. Lost my soul. Did so many wrong things. Every time I came running to him, he said only one thing, ” I am not ready to give up. Let’s try one more time ” that is the greatest love. Even when I was not faithful to him even when i failed him over and over again.. he never gave up. There is no one greater than out awesome god. I owe you so much dad.

  15. I am the prodigal daughter and I have been living that life . I was big on going to the house of the Lord and one day at a time over a couple of weeks I quit going. I had turned my back on my Father and was using drugs and going through my given name father’s inheritance that was left to me,faster than that of a dangerous speeding bullet and I didn’t care about who I was hurting cause it was mine and even though I did share my riches with others it was all done in has to. Now I’m getting my life today back in order. I have my son back in my home and I struggle daily to be able to do right..

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