The Efficacy of the Prayers of Parents for Their Wayward Children
Many parents suffer from the bad behavior of their children. Especially in the present day it is not uncommon to hear of children whose disobedience or religious apathy or immoral behavior has deeply wounded the hearts of their parents, who often fall into despair, not knowing how to bring their children around onto the true path. “We've done everything," say the unfortunate parents, "to correct our son or daughter. Nothing helps! God has punished us!" That's true, of course, for the bad behavior of children is indeed a real punishment from God. But it is wrong to despair.
You say you have tried everything. What exactly do you mean? Reasoning, chastising, pleading, etc. That's all? Yes. Well, there's more you could do. You've forgotten what is most important--prayer. If nothing helps, as you say, then turn to prayer. You can be sure that it will serve as the most powerful means---both for your children's correction and for your own consolation.
The holy Martyr Mirax, born in Egypt, was the son of Christian parents, who raised him in the Christian faith and piety. But the enemy of mankind deceived him. One day the youth came before the Hagarene king Amir and publicly denied Christ. He mocked the Cross and became a Moslem. The admonitions of his parents had no effect; their apostate son would not renounce his error and remained in that false religion.
The parents, however, did not despair of his conversion. Day and night they prayed for his salvation. And what happened? Their prayers were not in vain. The grace of God touched the sinner's heart, and Mirax repented. He came one day to his parents and said, "My parents! My mind became darkened and I fell into a grave sin. But what's to be done? What has happened can't be undone. But at least from now on I want to repent and to be again a Christian." "Son," replied his overjoyed father and mother, "we prayed for you day and night, and the Lord heard us. We now give thanks to the Lord that He hearkened to our petition and turned your heart to Him. But what shall we do now? You know how cruel the Hagarene king is and how mercilessly he'll deal with us when he learns that we assisted your conversion. Go, therefore, to the king and inform him yourself of your conversion. We'll again pray that the Lord deal with you according to His mercy and help you in what is good." Without further deliberation, Mirax went to the king; he condemned the Hagarene faith and confessed Christ. Given over to torture, he manfully endured the agonies inflicted upon him. He was finally beheaded with a sword, and received a martyr's crown.
Therefore, parents, bearing in mind this example, do not forget that if you are powerless to correct your children, God has the power to set aright the fallen and by your prayers will raise your children from their fall. You know that sighing and moaning and despairing won't help, but prayer is always efficacious. So hasten to pray and cast all your care upon the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). Me, Who came to save not the righteous but perishing sinners, will hear your cry and will turn your wayward children onto the right path. He creates things even out of nothing, and He often makes the last to be first.
A Prologue of Instructions
(Translated from Pravoslavnaya Zhizn, Jordanville 1973, no. 1.)[OA/_private/oabot.htm]