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How to Pray for Your Prodigal Child

Meet Janet Thompson: Janet's “Dear God” series of books are helpful and encouraging to women with many issues, but I asked her to write on the Prodigal today because I know it is dear to her heart and she can encourage others to UPGRADE their prayers.

“Are you wondering if you have a prodigal?,” Janet said. “Here’s my definition: ‘A child who is breaking the heart of his or her parents and the heart of God.’”  

Janet’s testimony and tips are positive and helpful:

I was a prodigal who raised a prodigal. I modeled worldly ways to my daughter, Kim, and she wanted to be just like me. When she was eighteen, I rededicated my life to Christ—I thought my daughter would follow after me. But she wanted nothing to do with this new “weird” mom.

When she announced she was going to live with her boyfriend when she left for college, I was heartbroken. I tried every way I could think of to dissuade her, but no amount of talking, pleading, or cajoling convinced her to change her mind.

Sobbing and sinking to my knees as I watched the taillights of my beloved only daughter’s little blue car disappear down the street as she headed off to college, I cried out to God: “Where did I go wrong?” “What can I do?” “Is it too late?”

Answers came in a devotional book which contained prayers in the form of paraphrased Scripture and a place to journal. Here are examples of verses I prayed for Kim, but you can take any verse in the Bible and personalize it because the Bible is your Guide for life. Make it personal and applicable:

Evening and morning and at noon I commit to pray and cry aloud for my daughter Kim. And You, Lord, shall hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17 NKJV)

I pray that my daughter Kim will know the truth and the truth will set him/her free. (John 8:32 NIV)

I started praying Scriptures for Kim:

Daily—I didn’t miss a day praying for her because I couldn’t stand the thought of her not being with me in heaven.

Biblically—Praying God’s Word back to Him kept me praying His will and not just my own will. I journaled my will.

Expectantly—with confidence that God would answer and act and in anticipation of how He would bring her back.

Persistently—I didn’t let myself become discouraged, even when I didn’t see any change in her and it seemed she moved further into the sinful lifestyle. I heard God’s still small voice that He wanted her back more than I did. So I kept on praying.

Sacrificially—I often fasted while praying.

Unceasingly—I never gave up, knowing my job as a praying parent was never finished.

Thankfully—always praising God for His answers to prayer even when they were different than I expected.

After five years of praying biblically, expectantly, persistently, sacrificially, unceasingly, and thankfully, my daughter started the long journey back to God and to me.

This past Mother’s Day, my "former prodigal" daughter Kim and I shared our story and our testimony of God’s faithfulness and grace at the Journey Churches Mother's Day Tea. (See photo, above).

Do you have a prodigal child?

Leave a comment if you'd like Janet and I (Dawn) to pray for you and your child.

Janet Thompson is a speaker and author of 17 books including “Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, & Encouragement for Hurting Parents” and her latest in a “Dear God series, Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man. Visit Janet at


The 1% Principle

Kathy Collard Miller "gets" UPGRADE. When I heard about her concept, "The 1% Principle," I just had to share it with you. I know her words will encourage you in your UPGRADE adventure.

Kathy writes:

Have you ever said things like:

  • I’ll never get angry again,
  • I’ll always show love toward that person who is unlovable,
  • I’ll never be discontent again,
  • I’ll always be joyful in every circumstance, or
  • I’ll have my devotions every day?

It's easy to think that such determination will bring us success—even that it's the only way we'll “upgrade” our lives. We may think that God demands such commitments. But have you noticed that when we can't follow through, we get discouraged and give up? Even thinking God has given up on us also?

The good news is that God is more patient than we think. And His patience allows us to grow in our sanctification "little by little." He's not impatient with us when it takes us time to overcome our struggles.

I Timothy 4:15 tells us that. It says, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all." Vine's Dictionary says the word Greek word "progress" is the idea of a pioneer cutting his way through the brushwood.

How does the pioneer do that? Little by little. He doesn't have a mile-wide ax to cut down a swath big enough for his house in a day. Instead, he takes one step and takes one chop in the brushwood with his ax. He progresses one step and chop at a time. 

That's the kind of "progress" the Apostle Paul is encouraging Timothy to have. Step by step. Chop by chop. Little by little.

One of the principles I write about and speak about to give the biblical perspective of this is what I call “The 1% Principle.” Instead of expecting or trying to make plans for 100% perfection, we make small goals—like 1% growth.

So let's apply that to the steps we wanted to make above.

  • I'll never get angry again becomes I'll concentrate on the time of day I often get angry and make changes that will support patience.
  • I'll always show love toward that person who is unlovable becomes I’ll find one thing I actually like about them.
  • I’ll never be discontent again becomes I'll find one thing to be satisfied about right now.
  • I'll always be joyful in every circumstance becomes I'll find one thing to appreciate right now.
  • I'll have my devotions every day becomes I'll have my devotions three times this week.

Such thinking in the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to make more progress because we'll be persistent rather than get discouraged and give up.

Reaching a 1% goal encourages us and empowers us to continue trusting in God for the progress He desires. And we'll give Him the glory for the progress we're making rather than pour contempt on ourselves because we haven't reached perfection.

What 1% goal does God want you to make? I believe you'll make greater progress that way than forming unrealistic expectations.

Just remember that pioneer's ax when you think of upgrading your life!

What 1% goal can you work on this week?

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of 49 books including Women of the Bible: Smart Guide to the Bible. She is also a popular women's conference speaker and has spoken in 30 states and 7 foreign countries. Kathy blogs at and lives in Southern California.





Eight Ways to Respond to Fear

Whether fraught with many fears or only occasionally caught in their grasp, it’s important to know how to respond when fear-causing circumstances arrive.

1. Face your fear. Financial upheavals, government turmoil, wars, natural disasters and the ravages of disease are just a few catalysts to fear; and many Christians suffer for their faith (Hebrews 11:32-38).

God means for us to face all our fears with Him. Jesus said, “… you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).   

2. Find the sting – Paul asks, “O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) The Message translates this, “Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?” Because of Christ’s victory over sin and death, the believer can have victory, not fear.

No matter the “sting” of difficult circumstances, there is comfort in the midst of pain, hope in the midst of devastation and more. Define the sting, and discover the antidote in Christ.

3. Feel the pain – Sometimes emotions run deep. Read the Psalms and discover man’s gamut of emotions, including fear.

Rather than running from emotions, give yourself permission to feel them so you can deal with them. Don’t hide, shut down or reject the truth of what’s happening. Behind many fears is the reality or perception of loss. Don’t get morbid, but acknowledge what loss feels like and choose to grieve well.

4. Free your mind – In the movie After Earth, the character played by Will Smith says, “Fear … is a product of thoughts you create. … Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” It’s true. We cannot escape the feeling of fear when it comes, but we choose what we do next.

We can counter the enemy’s lies. Jesus says to his abiding disciples, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). God wants to renew and transform our thoughts (Romans 12:2). He desires to give us a spirit of power, love, and a calm, well-balanced mind of discipline and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

5. Frame your responses – My dad encouraged me to think through my fears, asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?” He helped me examine my choices.

When fear comes, consider your options. Create a “how to” notebook as a resource of helpful information. Make a list of crisis steps.  Imagine acting with wisdom, courage and obedience, no matter what comes—like Daniel (6:7-22) and Esther (3:5-6; 4:1-16).

6. Feed your faith – The person who is armed with biblical resources is better prepared to face fears.

Feed your faith by memorizing and meditating on scripture and developing intimacy with God in prayer. Find mentors who have walked through trials with courage. Create a blessings journal and review God's faithfulness (Psalm 89:8; 115:1; Lamentations 3:22-23). Remembering how God’s presence got you through past trials will encourage you in today’s struggles (Psalm 91:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

7. Flourish in Friendships - Don’t go it alone. The Body of Christ is meant to come alongside with encouragement and comfort, and can do so because of the Comforter (the Helper) within (John 14:16, 26; 2 Corinthians 1:4). Reach out. Be transparent. Accept help.

8. Focus on praise – Be like Joseph (Genesis 50:20) and Job (Job 1:1; 19:25). Practice God-confidence and worship now, so it will be second-nature when tough times come.

What is your most powerful BIBLICAL response to fear?

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of and also blogs at Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God. She lives in San Diego with her husband Bob and a rascally maltipoo named Roscoe.


When You're Feeling Lonely

Meet Cindi McMenamin: Cindi’s books encourage women to dream, to rest and to find purpose in God. She is especially skilled in encouraging women to trust God with their emotions and attitudes. She has some powerful insights for us today:

Do you struggle with loneliness? Whether we are married or not, we can feel loneliness start to creep into our lives and change our attitude if we're not carefully guarding our heart and mind.

One morning as I was struggling with loneliness because of disappointments and unmet expectations in my life, I realized I was in my state of mind because I was believing something about my situation -- or about God - that wasn't true. So, I had to incorporate this principle, from my book, Women on the Edge, into my life to upgrade my attitude. You can upgrade your attitude (and those feelings of loneliness), too, by sorting the facts from the feelings:

In other words, when you focus on the facts (about God’s character and the promises in His Word) and not on what you are feeling, you can immediately upgrade your attitude and get through your day.

  • You may be feeling like everyone has abandoned you and you are alone. But the fact is that God has promised that He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
  • You may be feeling hopeless in your situation. But the fact is that God promises He will work all things (even this difficult time of feeling alone) for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
  • You may be feeling alone in your circumstances, like God is unaware and unconcerned with your pain at the moment. But the fact is that God is aware of what you are feeling at every moment. He has searched you and He knows you. He perceives your thoughts from afar. Before a word is on your tongue, He knows it completely (Psalm 139:1-4).
  • You may be feeling it is impossible for God to give you the kind of wisdom you need to deal with situations in your life as a woman, wife or mother, but the fact is God is able to give you the kind of wisdom you need, because James 1:5 says, “if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

In other words, when you focus on the facts (about God’s character and the promises in His Word) and not on what you are feeling, you can immediately upgrade your attitude and get through your day.

Which of these promises from scripture most encourage you when you feel lonely?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books, including Women on the Edge, When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, and When Women Walk Alone.

For more on her books, ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, see her website:




Spend Less and Save More

I met Ellie Kay, billed as “America’s Family Financial Expert”®, when I interviewed her years ago for The Christian Examiner. I found her insightful, discerning and fun.  I asked her to share some simple financial tips with UPGRADE readers.

Ellie writes:

How would you like to pay off your credit card, put your kids through college with minimal student loan debt, pay cash for your vacations and fund a retirement?

I believe that every family can upgrade their finances by unlocking the secrets of how to spend less and save more.

1. Develop a Plan

Go to my website tool section and find an easy-to-use interactive budget tool at  

Consider making yourself accountable to another person (or couple) to stick on the budget. They will check in with you monthly and ask how it’s going, what your challenges are and what you are going to do to stick to your plan.

Then, when you go to a store or visit a website, ask yourself, “Does this purchase fit into my plan and can it help me upgrade my finances?” Knowing that you are accountable will help you stick to your plan.

2. Don’t Buy Without a Discount

In a post-recession economy, consumers demand discounts and retailers are responding. Go to,, or to get codes that can help you save even more. Or you can go to or to compare prices on the Internet for the best price.

Then, try to get a rebate check on items you have to buy anyway by going to or

3. Don’t Use Credit

One of the things our family has done for years is to take out the budgeted amount for food, gas, entertainment and gifts, and put them in a cash envelope marked accordingly. When we see the cash dwindling, we’ll know we need to stop spending.

Debit cards are similar, if you are sure to keep up with how much case you have left in your checking account so you do not overspend. The point is that you do not buy on credit.

Which of these tips is your favorite for spending less and saving more?

Ellie Kay is a regular expert on national television with ABC NEWS NOW’s Money Matters and Good Money shows. She is also a national radio commentator, a frequent media guest on Fox News, and CNBC, a popular international speaker, and the best-selling author of fourteen books including her  newest release, The Little Book of Big Savings (Waterbrook, 2009).

For money savings links or to view Ellie’s blog, go to