Thursday, March 17, 2011


It seems I cannot escape the Parable of the Prodigal during the season of Lent. I felt a certain nudge from my Beloved to share the following prayer center I wrote last year on the Parable of the Prodigal. It beacons me to consider two very good questions:

  1. Do I know that I know that I know that I am God's dearly beloved? 
  2. Will I, with God's gracious help, love as the Beloved loves?

The prayer center is appropriately named "Beloved".


Light a Candle.

Read Luke 15:11-32:

Now read the following verse:
Then the Father said to him [to me, to you], "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours." Luke 15:31

Let me confess that I have been dwelling on this parable for quite some time (a few years, in fact!). God has a way of doing that to me – having me encounter certain stories of the faith to grow me, to show me something about Him and about myself. After praying through this story and just sitting with it, a few things come to mind.
First, this story reminds me that faith is a journey – a process – and each person’s journey is unique. Each one of the Father’s sons took a different path to the Father’s heart and, indeed, are even at different stages or places along that path or journey.
Second, the Father desires for all of his sons to make that journey to his heart – into his loving arms – and lovingly waits, rather impatiently even!, for his children to come home. The Father never demands that his children come home – it seems to be a matter of choice. And, third there’s a question this story seems to ask, "Do you know you are my Beloved?" It seems to me that the eldest son in this story stayed at home doing what he thought the Father wanted him to do, making good choices and being the responsible eldest son, somehow trying to make his way to the Father’s heart by doing good. The younger son, on the other hand, had to first break his Father’s heart, squander his inheritance, realize his "lostness", and then decide to go home to the Father. Neither son realized or knew that he was his Father’s Beloved and both seemed to feel they had to earn being the Beloved. The eldest son tried to earn his "Beloved-ness" by always making good choices, by being "good" and doing what was expected. The younger son didn’t seem to understand that he had always been the Beloved – that there was nothing he could do, not even leaving home and squandering his inheritance, that could change the fact that he was his Father’s Beloved. The Father met each of his Beloved Sons right where they were in their journey home to his heart and his love for each Beloved Son was constant. In other words, the Father gives the gift of being Beloved to his sons unconditionally – it is always there whether or not his Beloved Sons choose to accept it and live their lives from that perspective. For me, I am so grateful that the practice of our faith is a journey – a journey to the heart of God. I am, gratefully, finally able to claim who I am, "I am Donell, God’s Beloved!" I can relate to both of the Father’s Sons in this story. Okay, what about the Father? What am I to learn from the Father in this story? I cannot overlook the fact that I am very drawn to the Father character in this story. Can it be because I lack the capacity to love as the Father loves? Surely God is not calling me to love as the Father loves? I’m not capable of that of love, especially on my own. That kind of love just isn’t humanly possible. Or is it?

Answer the following questions:
  1. Do you know you are God’s Beloved?
  2. Do you live your life from that perspective – from knowing that you are God’s Beloved?
  3. If so, does knowing you are God’s Beloved change the way you relate to God and others?
  4. What question is God raising within you as you "prayerfully read" this story and how will you respond to that question?
Consider writing a letter, a written prayer so to speak, expressing what you have learned about yourself and your relationship with God through this story, and maybe even including in your letter your responses to the questions above.

 Loving God, your love for your Sons and Daughters is so deep and such a very precious gift. I cannot love others as you have called me to love without your help. So, help me, Loving God, to love others as the Father loves his Beloved Sons and Daughters. Help me to trust that "all that is yours is mine" and that I am your beloved.

Extinguish the Candle. 

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