A Book Review
By Dr. Gayle Woods
Those who have prodigal sons or daughters understand the feeling I had when I was given “Praying Your Prodigal Home” as a Christmas gift. Hope surged. Maybe there was some secret hidden in the book that I had missed. Maybe my prayers for my own son would be more effective after I read the book.
I also opened the book with some sense of skepticism. What did this person know about my heartache? Was the author really involved? You have to face this situation from a stance of experience. Mere research is not enough.
As I began to read my heart soon melded with the Richard Burr. He and his wife had suffered my heartache. They sat where I sat. Their son Jeff, showed great promise as a teen. He appeared to live for God. He was involved in Church work. Attending Baylor University, however, Jeff was assigned a homosexual roommate. Later his parents were to learn that Jeff’s pastor in Waco, Texas was also a homosexual. The parents were devastated in 1984 when Jeff flaunted his own homosexuality and told them he never wanted to see them again. He was so adamant in rejecting his Christian past that he changed his surname.
For 15 years they prayed. During this time they learned valuable lessons about praying for a prodigal. They discovered that this is not something that is to be hidden. You must share your burden with other concerned Christians. You also must not chase after your prodigal. You have to learn to let go. The prodigal’s father, in Luke 15, only went to the edge of his property and longed for his son. He did not follow him to the place of sin in order to stage a rescue. The prodigal must be released to God.
Richard Burr emphasizes the importance of praying the Word of God. He states, “The underlying combination of God’s Word with the ministry of prayer releases the divine power of God to produce unfathomable results.” (p. 33) Throughout the book he gives examples of how he and his wife prayed the Word of God as they interceded for their son. As he says, “. . . prayer without the Word leads to mysticism and false religion, and the Word without prayer leads to legalism and dead orthodoxy.” (p. 36) In urging the parent to intercede for their children, Burr underscores the point that prayer must go beyond a supplemental activity and become a foundational, fundamental ministry. (p. 48)
The author deals with the work of the Holy Spirit in His convicting and drawing power. He also points to the absolute necessity of true repentance and active faith.
I can confidently encourage parents of prodigals to digest this book. It will it be a source of encouragement in seeing how Jeff, dying with AIDS reconciles both with his parents and with God. A spark of hope will be ignited for your own personal situation. In addition, you will receive elementary instruction in the work of praying your prodigal home. It is my prayer that we will see a large crowd of prodigals rushing home as a result of our renewed hope and revitalized intercession.
Richard A Burr, Praying Your Prodigal Home, (2003). Christian Publications, Inc., Camp Hill, PA. ISBN: 0-87509-956-4.