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9 Ways to Stand for Rebellious Children

Most people are thrilled to learn they are going to be parents. When we finally meet our precious gifts (Psalm 127:3), we are often overwhelmed by the experience. We have dreams and aspirations for them, for their life. We want them to be smart and kind. We want them to be likeable, respectful of others, successful. For those of us who are “religious,” we desire for them to share our faith and walk with our God, to grow in spiritual stature.

Are you the parent of a rebellious child? There is hope. Find out how you can stand for a rebellious or prodigal child and finally see the miracle you’ve been praying for.

No one ever said parenting was easy. When you first bring your babies home from the hospital, there is so much hope and possibility for who they will become and what kind of lives they’ll lead. It doesn’t take long to realize that raising great kids is not automatic—it’s a lot of work! And you’ll have to contend for them every step of the way.

Whether their children are young or grown, many parents face the unexpected situation of dealing with a rebellious child or even a prodigal. The disappointment is stinging and the road often lonely. It can be difficult to even know where to start. First, we’ll begin with the basics.

What is rebellion?

A stubborn or rebellious spirit is one that rejects truth, challenges authority, and refuses to take personal responsibility for attitudes or actions. Further, a rebellious spirit is one that often, but not always, begins to turn away from God. Rick Renner explains that the word witchcraft comes from the Greek word pharmakeia, which refers to “the flesh’s attempts to avoid being confronted and changed.”

It’s important to understand that not all rebellious children are necessarily prodigals. Nonetheless, even the smallest hint of rebellion in the home must be dealt with immediately. Rolling the eyes, becoming angry when asked to take out the trash, or balking at the household rules will all open the door to a greater severity of rebellion down the line.

Perhaps your situation is much worse—stealing, lying, violence, drugs or alcohol abuse. Maybe your child is so far away from God, you can’t even see the possibility of his or her return. Know this: There is hope for your child. You are not powerless. You can see the miracle you’ve been praying for with these seven ways to stand for rebellious children.

1. Work diligently to win the heart of that child.

Having their heart means having influence with them. As parents, WE want to be the ones who are influencing them, and pouring valuable truths into that God has shown us.

2. Put Feelings Aside

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” –Romans 8:14 (KJV)

You’re hurt. You’re disappointed, shocked—even angry. You blame them. You blame yourself. You don’t know where to turn or what to do. When a child is rebellious, it is frustrating. When they’re extremely rebellious, it can feel downright devastating.

Here’s where you have to be careful. The devil preys on feelings—any feelings. You don’t even have to swing the door wide open—all he needs you to do is crack it open just a tiny bit—and he’s in. He’ll have you doubting your ability to parent, questioning the moment-by-moment well-being of your child, and plummeting into deep despair. The game plan? Don’t even give him the chance.

Put all feelings aside and focus on the TRUTH. Don’t be led by thoughts or emotions—be led by the Spirit in everything you say and do regarding your child.

3. Give Them Room

“‘Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. There is hope for your future,’ says the Lord. ‘Your children will come again to their own land.’” –Jeremiah 31:16-17

Mothers and fathers, take God’s Word for it. Receive Jeremiah 31:16-17 for yourself. Stop weeping for your children and start believing the Word. That’s the only thing that will bring them around. If necessary, go to your kids and ask their forgiveness for neglecting them.

Many times, rebellious children feel lost, insecure and angry, and are trying to discover their true identity. Give them room. The closer you push in, the more they will tend to back away from you. That doesn’t mean you stop being involved in their lives; it means you focus on encouraging and blessing them, rather than criticizing, condemning or pushing them to have a relationship with God.

Continue to set proper boundaries in your home or with their behavior toward you, depending on their ages. And don’t stop there. Take every opportunity to minister love to your children. Whenever they come around you, express your love in some way.

But overall, be led by the Spirit and give them the room they need to “come back to you from the distant land of the enemy.”

4. Learn to Intercede

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” –James 5:16 (NKJV)

One of the most powerful and effective things you can do for a rebellious child is to pray for them. But you can’t just pray the sad, pleading prayers of a parent who wants reconciliation. No. You must learn to intercede. That’s where you put your own feelings aside and focus on God’s will for your child. Because God is the only One who truly knows what is going on in your son or daughter’s heart, praying in the spirit will be very effective as well.

There are many testimonies of rebellious or prodigal children making supernatural turnarounds solely due to the power of a praying parent. Just because you don’t see immediate results, don’t discount the power and influence you have in your prayer closet. Press in, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, keep on asking. The effective (based on the Word), fervent (continual, never-ceasing), prayer of a righteous mother or father will bring great results.

When you pray, declare the Word over them, prophesy over their lives, and praise God for the victory. You may not see it yet, but His Word says you have it!

5. Take Authority

“Behold, I give you the authority…over all the power of the enemy.” –Luke 10:19 (NKJV)

If your children are still living at home, the key is to address any sign of rebellion quickly. If you let simple backtalk slide one day, a rolling of the eyes the next, and then a refusal to complete chores or requests, it becomes a slippery slope toward greater and greater rebellion in your home. If you have young children, it begins now. Don’t wait and assume they’ll grow out of it—they won’t!

Even if your children are older, or grown and gone—it’s never too late to take your spiritual authority as their parent. We overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, so now is the time to bind and restrict the enemy in your family.

According to Galatians 3:13, Jesus already broke the power of the curse; then in Luke 10:19, He gave us all power and authority. That means we have the right to order Satan out of our children’s lives and to take authority over the spirit of rebellion. Begin by walking your home and declaring, “Thank God, my children are not going to hell. Thank God, they are taught of the Lord and great is their peace!” Instead of walking the floor worrying, walk the floor praising God for the solution!

You can even anoint their possessions with oil in the Name of the Lord Jesus and speak life over your children. Anoint their pillowcases, their doorframes, their cars. Whatever you do, stand and believe for your children, and kick Satan out of your family!

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6. Set an Example

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” –1 John 3:18 (ESV)

One reason some children are rebellious is that they haven’t seen the right example set at home. If you have lived with a spirit of rebellion yourself, that is the first thing you need to address.

Do you speak against your boss, the police, the government or the president? What are you modeling? And what spiritual door have you opened as a result?

Of respect in the home, Kenneth Hagin’s wife, Oretha, had this to say: “If a husband and wife don’t show love to each other, how can they expect their children to show love to others? And children need affection, too. It’s a sad thing for children to be raised in a home where no love and affection are shown.”

Spend time allowing the Lord to uncover any area of rebellion in your own heart. Clean up that area of your spiritual life, and close the door on the devil in this area once and for all.

7. Release Your Child to God

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” –Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

One of the most difficult things to do as a parent is to release your children to God. Even when they aren’t in a state of rebellion or out of relationship with those who love them, there is always the temptation to keep them tightly within our grasp. We are called to guide, protect, discipline and set boundaries, but we are not called to worry. In fact, we’ve explicitly been told not to!

Continue to stand and believe for your children, but don’t try to force the matter. No matter what, refuse to worry. Release your child into God’s loving arms, and trust that His promises are sure.

8. Never Give Up

“Having done all…stand.” –Ephesians 6:13 (ESV)

Maybe it’s been years, even decades. Maybe you haven’t seen or even spoken to your child for longer than you can remember. All hope seems lost. At times, you’ve even wondered, Should I just move on with my life and forget about this?

Remember the words of David, when he said, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14, NKJV).

Things may not change overnight, but you can be like Abraham and call things that be not as though they were. Say, “I’m not moved by what I see, hear or feel. I’m moved by what I believe, and I believe what God says!” Second Peter 2:9 says that God knows how to deliver. He knows how to do it, so give Him the opportunity. It doesn’t matter where your children are—right there in the room with you or a thousand miles away—grab hold of the Word and never give up. Sooner or later, the Word will grab hold of them!

9. Repent.

Most of the time, our children learn rebellion from us. We may not be as overt about it as they are, however, many children’s sins can be traced to a parent – even if it is manifested in a completely different fashion.

Allow me to also share just a sample of reasons as to how you may have unintentionally raised a rebellious child:

You are their friend, not their parent. Many parents make the mistake (early on) of trading down the authority they have been given. Although none of us want to have our children mad at us, God requires us to parent them towards his standard – regardless of their response. Since foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15), we (as wiser ones) must remove the folly from their heart. Friendship will come but only after proper parenting.

You threaten but do not discipline. Parents prefer threats because threatening is easier. Discipline is just plain hard. Threats, though they may work occasionally or for a season, do not produce the “harvest of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11) that discipline does. Every time swift discipline does not follow your threat, the reliability of your word is questioned.

You are inconsistent. Consistency is critical to be an effective parent. When you parent inconsistently, you reveal to your child that you operate on a sliding scale. You might discipline them for one offense on one day but let them slide on the next offense the following day because you are distracted or tired. Nothing will frustrate a child faster than being inconsistent with him.

You let them make too many decisions too early. “What would you like to eat?” “What would you like to wear?” “What would you like to do?” Our intention in these questions is harmless. What parent does not want to make their child happy? The problem lies in that younger children are not emotionally mature enough to handle making their own decisions in such matters. As a result, they become “addicted to choice.” They do not just become addicted to their choice, they become allergic to yours.

You over-indulge them. This should not need elaboration since we all know what this looks like. It is totally appropriate to bless your children. It becomes inappropriate when your children can no longer handle the blessing. How can you tell if they have become over-indulged?

  • They are no longer grateful for what they receive.
  • They have developed an “entitled” attitude.
  • When you say “NO” (to test their heart) their reaction is a tantrum, manifested in a number of different ways; crying, whining, begging, complaining, anger or violence

You parent behaviors, not their heart. Parenting behaviors is easy. Reaching the heart is not. Simply changing behaviors, though good for the moment, only teaches your child to obey when they are governed. It does not teach them to govern themselves. Instead of addressing the heart, they simply learn to be more discreet with their sin. It is true that only God can change hearts; however, he loves to use parents as his primary tool.

You give suggestions instead of commands. Most people do not obey suggestions. Suggestions allow your children an option out of your desires. Commands do not. Suggestions place the ball in their court. Commands keep the ball in yours. Commands do not need to be harsh – just direct. There is a world of difference in:

  • “Please move your bike, ok?” (suggestion to be obeyed eventually)
  • “Please move your bike now.” (command to be obeyed immediately)

Do you ask your children for favors or speak in an authoritative, firm but loving, “I mean business” tone.

You encourage friendships with the world. Have you kept constant watch on the influences in your child’s life? From neighbors to classmates to television and the internet – there is a world seeking to bring down God’s standards. Calculate how many hours a day your child is around worldly influences. Is it affecting him/her negatively? The Bible is clear, “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God” (James 4:4).

You shield them from God’s Word. It is amazing to me how many parents (even in the church!) do not place their wayward child under the consistent teaching of God’s Word. God’s Word is the ONLY remedy known to man who can change a human heart. If the doctor told you that chemotherapy would cure your child’s cancer, you would make sure your child was given chemotherapy on time regardless of their complaints. Of course a wayward child does not want to go to church or youth group, be with other Christians or endure a Bible study. They know it is the very thing that can combat their rebellious heart and they are enjoying their black heart right now.

A Prayer for Rebellious Children

There is a battle for our children. The enemy is after them, and some have fallen prey to his schemes. It can start small and subtle, or it can come on fiercely and quickly. The spirit of rebellion is one way the enemy seeps in almost undetected, causing hurt, confusion and often serious damage. While some instances of rebellion are more serious than others, the truth remains the same—your children need your prayers.

Whether your children are young and still at home or adults you haven’t seen in years, one thing is true—they need you. No matter how difficult the situation may seem, never give up on your children. Now is the time to take up your armor and fight the good fight of faith. Begin today with this prayer for rebellious children. Insert your child’s name into the space

Father, in the Name of Jesus, I praise You and thank You that You are a good God. Thank You that You love me, and that You love my son/daughter. Father, I thank You for giving me the honor and privilege of being _____’s parent. You knew him/her before he/she was born. You knit my child together in the womb, and You had great plans for his/her life before it had even begun.

Lord, You know the trials that I have faced in watching my child go against Your Word, making poor and damaging choices. I ask today that You heal my heart and renew my strength to stand for my child in Jesus’ Name.

Your Word says You will pour out Your Spirit upon my offspring and Your blessing upon my descendants. So, I declare by faith that my child hears the voice of Your Spirit and the voice of strangers my child will not follow. 

Father, right now, I repent of any rebellion in my own life, and I ask You to forgive me and show me any areas where rebellion exists, so that I can root it out of my life forever with Your supernatural help. 

I know that the spirit of rebellion is a demonic spirit and has no right and no place in my child. So, by the authority You have given me, through Christ Jesus, I command every wrong spirit, including the spirit of rebellion, to leave my child right now in the Name of Jesus’. No weapon formed against ______ will prosper, I send angels to take charge over my child, I plead the blood of Jesus over _____, and I declare Psalm 91 protection over him/her. I break every stronghold right now in Jesus’ Name. 

Satan, you cannot have my child! I resist you! Now go!

Lord, I know it is Your will for _______ to come into the family of God, to love You, serve You, and find peace, joy and happiness all the days of his/her life. I thank You for lifting the veil from my child’s eyes, for convicting __________, that his/her faith will not fail him/her, and bringing him/her to a broad place. 

I thank You and praise You that he/she will come home from the distant land of the enemy and return to You.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Pray this prayer for rebellious children, and keep on believing for your child, dear parent. Keep praying and keep standing. Expect to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. He is your strength, your strong tower, your hope. Though your child may seem far away, he or she needs you more than you may ever know.

As we surrender our children to God through prayer, we can trust that they are in His hands and He’ll do whatever work He wants to do in them for His glory. We can worry or we can pray. We can stress or we can trust. We can lose sleep by trying to control their every step or we can rest in the One who is already in control of their lives, whether they are acting like it or not.


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