"The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects." -Jas 5:16

Many parents whose children have left the faith feel guilty and constantly worried. They ask themselves, what did I do wrong? Is it my fault they left the faith? What can I do to bring them back? If you're feeling this way, seek forgiveness and peace through the sacrament of Confession, and persist in prayer for your child.

Let go of the past, and focus on what you can do today for your child's conversion. Stay close to the Lord, and pray.

Pray

Prayer in the morning or at night:

Lord, [your child's name] needs your help. [He/she] has left the faith and now [his/her] salvation is at stake. I have tried everything I can think of to help, but nothing seems to work. I know the decision to return is ultimately up to [your child's name], but it pains me so much to think about what might happen if [he/she] does not return. I love [him/her] and want [him/her] to be happy forever in heaven. I don't know what else to do except to pray. I am begging you, Lord, to please grant [your child's name] the graces of conversion. Please bring [your child's name] back to the faith. Above all, Lord, please grant that [your child's name] will be saved. Thank you. Amen.

Scripture passages to repeat when you feel hopeless or lose perseverance in prayer for your child's return:

"For with God nothing will be impossible." -Lk 1:37

"The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects." -Jas 5:16

"Rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles--to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." -Acts 26:16-18

Who to pray to for intercession: St. Monica

We recommend praying to St. Monica because she experienced the inner turmoil of having a child who left the faith and also the joy of having him return, thanks to her persistent prayer and the mercy and grace of God. Her child returned so fervently that he became a saint (St. Augustine).

Novena:

St. Monica, I know you struggled with the pain and heartbreak of your son's abandonment of the faith. I ask that you pray for me during my struggle of my [son's/daughter's] abandonment of the faith. I believe in the power of prayer, and you have demonstrated that God listens to heartfelt prayers for one's child. St. Monica, please pray and intercede for [your child's name] to return to the faith. I trust that you will help me, and I will follow your example by persevering in prayer. St. Monica, please help me to persevere in prayer, and please persevere with me. Thank you. Amen.

Cooperate with God

God does not abandon us to sin and guilt. God offers us forgiveness and grace through the sacrament of Confession.

If you are struggling with feelings of guilt over your child's leaving the faith, examine your conscience, seek forgiveness through the sacrament of Confession, and accept the peace that God offers.

Don't let uncertainty stop you. If you go to Confession and ask God to forgive you for anything you know you did wrong or are not sure about, you have no need to feel guilty anymore. You've been forgiven through Confession, and you need to forgive yourself too.

It's time to let go of the past, place your worries and desires in the Lord, and pray for your child to come back to the faith.

Reading about St. Monica's struggle might also help if you are struggling to persist in prayer for your child or if you feel like you are losing hope. Reading a book about her struggle can give you strength to persist. We recommend St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer by Mike Aquilina and Mark W. Sullivan. This book has brought hope to many parents who are praying for their children.

No matter what happens, never give up praying for your child's return. It happened for St. Monica, and it can happen for you too.