A few nights ago, a howling wind blew through my neighborhood, kicking up a fuss in the dark. It beat against my house like a prowler looking for an open window. Safe inside, I curled up with a good book and sipped tea while the wind rattled trees and chased their falling leaves into every corner of my yard.

Next morning, I found the damage. A favorite plant on my patio was toppled over, pot broken, soil scattered, and roots exposed. I scooped it up in a bowl and watered the little clump of soil still clinging to the roots. At the moment, it was all I could do. I hoped it would be enough.

Now, this little plant has weathered stronger winds than the one that sent it tumbling. It grew close to the house, safely under the patio eave, protected from full exposure to the elements. That’s an unlikely spot for a mishap, I would say—but a gust of wind can do mischief anywhere.

Why am I telling you about my wind-tossed plant? Because it reminds me of loved ones I’m praying for…family and friends who have abandoned their faith for one reason or another and strayed back into the world. Thinking of them, I hurt and I wonder how it could happen. I struggle for words they will hear and not reject. But mostly, I ask God to help me to keep praying and not lose hope for them. He never gives up.

In the Bible, James closes his letter with words tinged with sorrow but filled with hope. “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20 NIV).

But how can we bring someone back who is unwilling to come? After you have done what you must do and said what you must say, then what? Pray and keep on praying. James says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16 NLT).

I can’t change a person’s heart, but I know the One who can! God promises that when we ask anything according to His will, He hears and will answer (1 John 5:14–15). So don’t give up praying for that loved one. Scoop them up and water their exposed roots with fervent prayer. They may not be listening now, but God hears your prayers and He knows what is needed.

Broken vessels are the casualty of sin.

The Lord reminded me of this as I swept pottery shards into a dustpan and thought about tossing the uprooted plant away too. The enemy breaks so that he can destroy—but our loving Father never gives up on His prodigals. He watches and waits for them to come to their senses and return home. And when they do, He will welcome them with open arms!

Will you trust Him to restore what’s been broken? In the meantime, never stop praying.

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The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise. –Psalm 51:17