The 13 – 19th November is the World YWCA and World YMCA Week of Prayer. These sibling organisations, among other things, organise opportunities to unite their local associations around the world on important issues.

In light of this week, Ian Pearson, shares a story from Luke’s Gospel in the Bible and reflection on God’s unconditional love.

The Prodigal Son, from Luke chapter 15

Jesus continued: “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.  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.

 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants 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 servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“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.

 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

 “My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

The Prodigal Son image


This story gives us a clear example of the choices someone can make. The older Son is seeking happiness, in the short term he believes he is making a good choice and getting an immediate hit of happiness. He is blinded to see or feel the love that his father has for him and rejects that love and happiness to seek it elsewhere. He is basically saying “father you’re dead to me, give me what i’d get if you were dead”. 

He seeks happiness elsewhere and in the short term, he may have been happy, probably with people around him, so called friends who help to spend his money. However, that didn’t last. Let’s recall that this was a Jewish family, he was that low he hired himself out to work on a farm and feed pigs, Jews don’t like pigs, he was so hungry he’d ate what was being fed to the pigs. 

He comes to his senses and wants to return to his home and his family. If like me, you were ever sent to the head teacher, knowing you were caught red handed doing wrong, I’d rehearse in my head what I was going to say, trying to predict what was going to be said or what the reprimand would be. This is exactly what the son does, he doesn’t think he deserves anything from his father, other than to be treated as a servant. 

So what is Jesus trying to say to us? Jesus is giving us an example of the unconditional love of God the father. God has created us in his image and likeness and gives us each free will to make choices. God calls us into a relationship with him to experience his unconditional love, like the father in this story he waits for us to come home to him. He doesn’t put conditions on the relationship he loves us as he has created us. 

We are human and therefore we aren’t perfect, in life we make choices, sometimes the wrong ones which don’t always make us happy or at least don’t give us long term happiness. 

God, seeks us to have a relationship with, is always there waiting for us. 

Christians believe prayer unites us with others spiritually to rejoice in the joys of life and share in the challenges of life while also helping draw our hearts closer to God the creator.

As part of the Week of Prayer 2022, the World YWCA & YMCAs have created a booklet you can join with others around the world this week, or when you can.

Download the Week of Prayer Booklet

If you would like to request prayer (for yourself or others), related to anything that you want to share with the knowledge others will pray with and for you please fill out the form at the link below.

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