What the Parable of the Prodigal Son Teaches Us About Spending Time With God

What the Parable of the Prodigal Son Teaches Us About Spending (2)

My oldest daughter, Beth, went to two church camps this summer. That’s two full weeks my baby of nine years was away from her mama. (And yes, I know, at nine, she’s no longer a baby, but to me, she will always be my baby girl.)

When she was gone, I missed her something terrible! Especially after she went off to the second camp, I immediately yearned to have her back. I guess the reason it was so hard the next week she was gone is because it was a camp I wasn’t as familiar with. She went to the second camp with a neighbor’s family and not with our church, so I knew she would be surrounded, mostly, by people she didn’t know. People I didn’t know.

She left on an adventure without me — emphasis on “without ME” — and I just wanted her back. When my independent (OK, I’ll say it) BIG girl left her mama a second time, she didn’t even glance back at me after I dropped her off with the neighbor and walked back toward our house. I know because I watched.

Throughout the week she was gone, this eagerness to have her back in my arms and under my care grew. When the day finally came she was to return home, my longing for my girl had grown into this insatiable hunger. I remember obsessing about how much I wanted to hug her and to love on her.

It’s often in times like these, where my emotions have been revved up so high it’s as if I’m about to ignite into flames, I suddenly hear God speak to me.

I heard Him say, “That’s how I often feel about you, my child.”

I have to tell you, I was a little shocked by this. Not because I don’t know how much God loves me, I most certainly do. He loved me so much He gave His one and only Son to die for me, for us (John 3:16). These words from my Savior gave me pause because it wasn’t as if I ever left Him for extended periods of time to go off on my own adventures, like my oldest had done.

Or maybe I had?

Is it not true that even though we aren’t ever physically from God’s view, spiritually we can be thousands of miles away from His loving gaze? As if we have turned our backs on Him to run off on our own in search of self-fulfillment?

Too busy for a quiet time? Too concerned with other priorities to go to church? Too preoccupied to pray with a friend or to witness to the lost?

Having my oldest away from me at camp for such a long time had just given me a glimpse into how our loving Father feels about us when we are spiritually far away from Him. He, too, becomes eager for our return, desirous of the time when He can yet again lavish His love and His peace upon us.

When Jesus told the story of the prodigal son, He created an illustration of God’s longing for His distant children and His great love for them. And upon a close inspection of this timeless tale, we can uncover just how we, when we don’t make time for God, have in common with this wayward child.

How We Are Like the Prodigal Son When We Neglect Time With God

The story opens in Luke 15, saying: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living” (v. 11).

In this parable, the father parallels God, and the son parallels a person in spiritual rebellion against Him. The first thing a reader should notice is that this son chooses to go off on an adventure far away from his father. This is a choice.

How often do we choose to do the same thing? How often do we start our days immediately going off on adventures of our own choosing without so much as a backward glance to our Father?

Then, notice what else it says in the opening verse to this story. It says that the son “squandered” his wealth. Now, remember where he got this wealth? The father. So technically, it wasn’t his wealth he wasted. It was the father’s.

Again, how often do we do this? How often do we wastefully cast aside what God desires to freely gives us in favor of squalor?

Notice where the son ends up as the story continues in verse 14: “After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”

Now let’s pause a moment and examine our own lives. How many times have we ended up in this same position? Having lived day in and day out the way we see fit, only to be so spiritually hungry we try to fill that void with whatever will seemingly do the trick? Relationships? Work? Social media?

If you are anything like me, you don’t really like the honest answers you just gave to those questions. But, praise be to God, the story of this father and son doesn’t end with the child longing to obtain a feast from the pig trough. There is hope revealed in verse 17: “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Do you need to do this today? Do you need to go to God and ask for forgiveness? Whether it be as a Christian to repent of a transgression or as a lost sinner in need of salvation, we can go to God the Father and ask for what we need.

And He is eagerly waiting for us to run into His open arms!

“But while he 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. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’ So they began to celebrate.” (vv. 20-24)

The Heart of the Father Towards Us When We Stray

Whatever is going on in your life today, don’t neglect your heavenly Father. As is so beautifully illustrated in the story of the prodigal son, God wants you to want Him. He loves us, and He wants to show us His amazing love. If only we would let Him!

When Beth came home from her second church camp, I was overjoyed to hear her knock on the door to our home. I flung it open, embraced her, and twirled her around while squealing, “I’ve missed you!” We then spent most of that evening together, enjoying each other’s company.

Each day, the Savior waits, eager to embrace you and enjoy your company. Don’t opt instead to tackle the day on your own. He wants to clothe you in His best and celebrate life with you. Call on Him, today.


Jamie Wills

Jamie Wills

Jamie is a high school English teacher, wife and mom. She is a marathon runner and writes regularly in her spare time on miscarriage, running, spirituality and everyday life on her blog -- posting things that God shows her that she doesn't want to forget, or "forget-me-nots." Jamie holds a master's degree in education and sponsors speech and debate at the high school level. Jamie is the mother of three children -- two beautiful daughters, Beth and Hannah; as well as Angel, a baby she lost in August of 2010. She currently resides in Georgia with her family.

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Why Ignoring God’s Word Is Not Smart


What comes to mind when you hear the word “summer”? Do words like “sun” and “sand” and “water” pop into your head? Do you envision lazy days spent outside eating ice cream after grilling lunch or dinner on the back porch? Perhaps you think more broadly and the ideas of family and fun spring to mind?

Well, please allow me to briefly share what comes to mind when I think of summer. (Disclaimer: I’m a high school English teacher.)

The word “time” springs to mind when summer is mentioned. Time to finally do all those things I’ve been pushing aside during the busy school year. Time to clean and organize my house. Time to help my children sharpen their reading and writing skills. Time for doctors’ appointments, and time for the car’s oil change and finishing that Christmas project I started back in December.

Time to put my life back in order before the next school year begins.

And that is what I have focused on since summer began. That to-do list.

All that being said, I have also managed to carve out time for VBS and a trip to see my family, along with squeezing in a couple visits to the pool with the kids. Really, when all is said and done, I’ve been mighty productive. So why do I feel so unaccomplished? So unfinished and incomplete?

Recently, I asked my Jesus those questions, and I instantly received the answer.

I am feeling so broken lately because I have been making time for every other priority in my life EXCEPT for God’s Word.

The moment the Holy Spirit showed me my error, the words of Psalm 51 sprang into my heart: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

Those words were written by King David after the prophet Nathan confronted the king about his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah. David was instantly repentant after hearing Nathan’s condemnation in 2 Samuel 12:9: “Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.”

David had ignored God’s Word when he took Bathsheba (you shall not commit adultery, the seventh commandment) and killed her husband, Uriah (you shall not murder, the sixth commandment). I imagine David, like me, had not been spending time in God’s Word to have made such grievous errors in judgment.

Ignoring God’s Word can have severe consequences.

We see this truth when the Lord says this to David through Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 12:10: “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.”

When we don’t make spending time in God’s Word a priority, disaster can and will, eventually, strike. A child of God found not spending time in His Word can be likened to a person driving a car in the pouring rain without the windshield wipers on. If you keep driving like that, you will crash! And David crashed hard.

As for me, I, too, have been ignoring God’s word. Like King David, this summer I have been living life according to my own whims and desires without taking any time to consult God’s Word — to consult God. By ignoring His Word, I have been leaving out a primary way God can speak to me and teach me.

Additionally, not spending time in His Word can lead to spiritual malnourishment. And that’s how I’ve been feeling this summer — starved. The reason I am feeling so fragmented lately is because I have deliberately cut off my spiritual sustenance and have been starving myself. No wonder I have grown weary and feel faint of heart.


Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

How could I make all this time for temporal things and totally ignore what is lasting and true?

Am I alone in this? Do you also need to make time for the One who created time? Let’s make some mid-year resolutions and resolve to ignore God’s Word no longer.

Here are two things we can do to foster a growing relationship with the Lord:

1. Start your day in His Word. Even if you only have five minutes to spare, stop and acknowledge the Lord by reading His Word. The world in which we live is dark and scary. It’s a battlefield for the child of God! Philippians 4:7 admonishes us to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and it just makes sense that it is best to do this BEFORE the day begins and not after the battle has already begun.

2. Study His Word. It is also important to become intimately acquainted with God’s Word. 2 Timothy 2:15 explains that you should “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” We need to make time to really study His truth. Happily, one of the results of having a time like this is establishing a deeper relationship with the giver of life Himself.

Making these resolutions is simple, but putting them into practice can be daunting. I get it! If you are a busy working mom like myself, making the above two suggestions top priority in your life is a huge undertaking. But we must try!

The consequences of failure in this area of our walk with God could create irreversible damage. Just recall the loss of David’s first infant son with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12) and the adversity he faced in the later years of his life with his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15).

So, if you are feeling as if something is amiss in your life, perhaps you are missing out on time in God’s Word. Resolve with me to ignore it no longer. I plan on ending my summer and starting the new school year moving in the right direction — closer to God’s Word and thus closer to God.

Just a closer walk with Thee; Grant it, Jesus, is my plea; Daily walking close to Thee; Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Will you resolve with me to spend more time in God’s Word? Post a comment about your plans, and let’s create a dialogue and solidify our intentions before the Lord.






Jamie Wills

Jamie Wills

Jamie is a high school English teacher, wife and mom. She is a marathon runner and writes regularly in her spare time on miscarriage, running, spirituality and everyday life on her blog -- posting things that God shows her that she doesn't want to forget, or "forget-me-nots." Jamie holds a master's degree in education and sponsors speech and debate at the high school level. Jamie is the mother of three children -- two beautiful daughters, Beth and Hannah; as well as Angel, a baby she lost in August of 2010. She currently resides in Georgia with her family.

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