Prayer Can Make the Difference for Struggling Parents

by | Jun 2, 2024 | prayer | 16 comments

photo cred. pedro lima on unsplash

In my life prayer has made all the difference. My prayers are to the God of the Bible, the all-powerful creator of heaven and earth who raised Jesus from the dead. I have an adult child who has struggled with various challenges (alcohol, drugs, mental illness, self harm) since adolescence. If you’re like me, I finally realized I had no power to change my child. How do we Iive with the fear and worry, the sadness and loss that comes with this kind of reality? How do we make peace with what we can’t change or fix? How do we not become another victim, losing ourselves along the way? Can we find any sense of peace?

I found peace by surrendering my daughter to God over and over again, then focusing on taking care of myself. There are many ways we can give our children to God and care for ourselves, but the best way for me has been through the practice of prayer.

Today is June 2nd the Worldwide Prodigal Prayer Day. The founder is Judy Douglass. Her theme for this year is “Fear Not” because fear is a big problem parents of troubled children struggle with. When you can’t change your child and you’re worried about what will happen to them, what can you do? Is there anything? I discovered something that made all the difference: Prayer. I’ve experienced many answers I never thought were possible. I also found some great books that helped me pray. I included them at the end of this post for you. And on this day you can submit your child’s first name to the Prayer for Prodigals website and many will pray for them, today and all year long. Send their name to: and we will submit their name for you. Or you can join the website yourself and add a request anytime. Go to: and follow the prompts.

12 Step recovery programs encourage struggling family members to pray. Every meeting ends with The Lord’s Prayer. My Judeo-Christian faith encourages me to do this too.

Philippians 4: 6 (NIV) encourages me to pray about anything that’s on my heart: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.

Prayer is my way of letting go, of surrendering what I have no control over. How could I do that? With God’s help. He is my source of hope and strength. And I can trust him because I know he loves my child even more than I ever could.

I believe prayer is the most powerful force in the universe, one that is often untapped. We tend to pray as a last resort, after we have tried everything else. However, there is no magic formula to get the results we desire. Prayer does not remove our child’s free will, or their ability to choose, but in my life, prayer has made the difference. My intercessions have not forced my daughter to do anything she did not want to do, but they have been a mighty resource of help and hope.


One of things I did was to ask others to pray with me for my daughter. I knew I needed help. Many friends who cared about me and about her joined in praying. Maybe thousands. I will probably never know. But what I do know is that I have seen God move. Their prayers accomplished amazing outcomes. I credit prayer with saving her life many times. She’s had many close calls: Near overdoses. Car accidents. Severe cutting incidences. Mixing alcohol and drugs. Dangerous predators. I believe the power of prayer is the sole reason she is still alive today … and she agrees. God protected her from greater harm than what she had already experienced. Bad things did happen, but through the intercessions of many people, she has survived and I was able to cope with what I thought I never could. Friends, I have seen miracles only God could do.

Through prayer my daughter found hope. I did too. Prayer kept her from giving up and ending her life. Prayer brought loving, caring, compassionate people into her world who sacrificed themselves on her behalf: Counselors. Emergency room nurses. Teachers in high school. Kind strangers. Faithful friends and mentors. God did the impossible. Every need was met: Counseling and psychiatric care. Safe places to live. Several stints in rehab. And most of all – hope.


photo cred. ismael paramo on unsplash

Prayer was the catalyst behind God’s care and provision.

Prayer brought about many more unexpected blessings:

photo cred. ktmd entertainment on unsplash

Dear brokenhearted parent, if you haven’t talked to God in a long time you might want to give it a try again. He cares deeply about you and your child. He loves to hear from his children, the same way we do.

These are a few books that helped me pray for my daughter when I didn’t know how to anymore. More are listed on our website. You can also go to this confidential, password-protected website to post prayer requests and find still more resources:

Stormie Omartian’s books:  The Power of a Praying Parent and The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children

Prayers for Parents of Prodgials by Linda Clare

How to Pray for Lost Loved Ones by Dutch Sheets

Praying Prodigals Home by Q. Sherrer and R. Garlock

Praying for Your Addicted Loved One by Sharron Cosby

Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenagers by J. Berndt


A final word from the holy Scriptures about prayer:

“. . . pray . . . on all occassions, with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18) NIV


  1. Jill Pearce

    I have been following your blog for a couple of weeks now. If you want to lift my son, Steven, up in prayer I would be thankful and blessed. He is an addict and probably an alcoholic too. He is almost 33 years old and has been an addict for 15 years at least. Thank you and God bless!

    • denayohe

      Thank you for sending me his name. I will add him to my prayer list. I prayed for him just now. May God deliver him and set him free. Break this bondage. This is so much pain for you to be carrying, Jill. I am so sorry. I know this heartache is like no other. I send out regular emails of encouragment and hope to a large group of parents. If you would like me to add you to this email group let me know. I always blind copy them to protect everyone’s privacy. If you like to read I would like to recommend several books to you. Let me know about that, too, ok?

    • denayohe

      Yes, Jill, I will add Steven to my list. May God deliver him from this bondage and heal him in every way – physically, emotionally and spiritually. While you wait may you find sufficient hope, comfort, strength and encouragement in Christ himself. “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone…” (Ps. 62:1)

  2. Melody H.

    Hello, Dena. Would you add my daughter, Kristin, to your prayers? You may remember I wrote to you before about her hospitalizations for severe depression and suicidal tendencies. Your blogs about trusting God helped me so much to be able to give her problems up to Him. When I was finally able to let go and do that, we both turned a corner. She is doing well right now, although she still struggles with dealing with stress in her life. Thank you so much for your posts of encouragement and for your prayers.

    • denayohe

      Of course, I will be happy to add her name. I am so glad to hear that my blogs helped you. That is wonderful how both of you are improving. Thank God! Yes, it is an ongoing journey, but I rejoice with you that today is a better day. Keep taking one day at a time, rejoicing one moment at a time.

  3. Caroline S.

    Hello, Dena! Thank you so much for taking the time to write the encouraging blogs that you do. Today’s has coincided beautifully with our return from our hurting parents support group where we had a powerful time of prayer for our children, who all happen to be sons. But, there can never be enough prayer so if you wouldn’t mind adding our son, Taylor’s name to your list that would be great. He is just 17 but has struggled with a drug usage and other related behaviour and just really needs the fulfillment of knowing Jesus. He’s been doing much better, but it’s an ongoing battle so prayer support is appreciated!
    Thanks, Caroline

    • denayohe

      Caroline, I am so blessed to hear that you find my blogs encouraging. That is my hope! Thank you for sending me your son’s name. I would love to add Taylor to my list! I would also like to promote your hurting parents group! There are so few of them across the country. I am thrilled to hear you have one to go to! Is it open for others to join? If so, let me know the details and I will let others know on the Prayer for Prodigals website that I am also involved with. We have a list of all kinds of resources and are are wanting to add more of this very thing to help other parents! You never know — someone who lives in your area who has this need might see it! You can email me the info if you’d like.

  4. Diana Hollister

    Hi Dena,
    Your words are inspiring. If you would, please pray for Devin, Elliot and Sam. 3 of my 4 kids who are struggling with addiction, (2 heroin) and one also cuts. We are in the midst of all of this right now. I am a single parent and it is so hard, I couldn’t get through each day without knowing God is by my side. I am so sad, but hopeful. I currently attend Naranon groups, but my kids are not seeking any kind of help. Thank you for sharing your story and for your prayers.

    • denayohe

      How are Devin, Elliot and Sam doing? I prayed for them just now.

  5. Suize

    Please add my daughter, Whitney, to your prayers. She is not involved with drugs, as far as we know, but at age 28, has completely changed and doesn;t have much to do with us. We are all Christians, but we believe she may be listening to the wrong voices. The people she hangs with are not believers. She has treated us very badly and it isn’t up for discussion. I have disabilities and I’m sure that plays into this somehow. She has become very secretive and we hardly hear from her. We used to be best friends.

    • denayohe

      I’m so sorry. Lord, work in Whitney’s heart. Soften her heart toward her parents. Comfort them and surround them with your compassionate loving arms.

  6. Terry Keith

    My millennial daughter, Kaylee is wandering somewhere in Southeast Asia. She climbs mountains and is possibly in Nepal. She has not contacted us since July, but she occasionally contacts my daughter-in-Law. I know that she has a visa for Australia. She was a Spirit-filled, homeschooled young person. I was a helicopter parent. She always loved and respected us, but now doesn’t want us to know anything about her. I recently found a note she had written thanking us for how we raised her. In the note she asked us to continue praying without ceasing. Thank you for your article. I believe prayer is our most powerful lifeline.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Terry, thank you for your comment. We are so very sorry for the wandering of your dear daughter, Kaylee; for how she pushed you out of her life. May she encounter the living God on one of her climbs. He is able to orchestrate the how and the when and the where of reaching her. We were helicopter parents, too. We understand. We all did the best we could as we looked to God for wisdom and guidance. This is how she’s chosen to respond. Remember what God’s first two children did – and he didn’t do anything wrong, did he? What a gift for your hearts to find that note. May it encourage you that God is working! Yes, continue to pray and never stop. May you live to see the day she returns to him with all her heart. (Jer. 24:7)

      “I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.” (NLT)

  7. Rosanne demartini

    My 38 year old son is struggling with addiction. Recently he committed to a 6 month recovery program motivated by the reality of potentially facing a year in prison if he relinquishes his compliance and commitment to 6 month recovery.. I am requesting your prayers for his commitment to growth and sobriety.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Thank you for reaching out, Rosanne. I am so sorry your son has struggled so much but so glad he is now in a program. Hopefully, he will be ready for a fresh start when he finishes in 6 months. I will also request prayer for him on the Prayer for Prodigals website (anonymously) and many more people will pray for him too! May God sustain you as you keep surrendering him into His loving hands. And may your son find a purpose for his life in Christ that will motivate his lasting sobriety. God bless you with increased faith and hope as you pray and wait.
      If you want to use the Prayer for Prodigals site yourself you can sign up by going to: and follow the prompts.
      Praying with you right now, Dena.