17 Important Lessons from the life of the Prodigal Son

In Luke 15:11-19, we read the popular story of the prodigal son who was once under his father's roof until he suddenly made a decision to leave his father's will and to do his own. As a good father, "he gave him whatsoever he would". The prodigal son followed his decision to gratify his fleshy desires in opposition to the thoughts of the father.

From the record in the book of Luke chapter 15, Jesus told different parables which dealt with lost but found items – from the parable of the lost sheep to the parable of the lost and finally to the parable of the prodigal son who from self-willfulness requested from his father his inheritance without focusing on the appointed time and the result.

5 Lessons from the Life of the Prodigal Son by Falana Idowu Zion

The story of the prodigal son is a well-known Bible story. From these three parables, this article would focus on the story of the prodigal and thereby point out five (5) lessons that could be learned from the story.

Here are five lessons from the Life of the Prodigal Son.

1. Learn to grow beyond your self-will

In Luke 15:11-12, we read that a certain man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. Here, we understand that the younger son never considered his Father’s opinion on his next agenda. He acted upon his will and thereby asked his father for his possessions without thinking about the end. However, it should be noted in this passage (Luke 15: 11-31) that the Father in the passage is Jesus/God. So, as Christians, we should always consider the Will of the Father beyond our own Will so as to not make any error. The Father knows the end from the beginning and therefore has a lay-down plan for our lives. Acting on our self-willfulness is literally saying you know the way and thereby telling the Father to keep His plans for Himself. Remember, “When you follow your will, you neglect God's will. He’d never force it on you – He is a Gentle Spirit.

2. Learn to Manage Resources

When we read further in Luke 15:13-17, we see that not long after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.  16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. From these verses again, we learn that the result of mismanagement is hunger and thirst. If spent wisely, the prodigal son would have ended up getting the best of his inheritance, peradventure he invested his inheritance in a goodly thing, he’d have ended up getting the best out of it, however, since he had a wrong motive from the onset, he couldn’t have a good plan on how to make use of his inheritance or how to invest it in profitable things.

Likewise, as Christians, we must understand that it is necessary to overcome mismanagement. A true believer should never waste God's investment – He has given us the grace (II Corinthians 6:1) and we should never let His grace and death be in vain. He has given us talents, which he continually hopes we make use of and thereby get profitable rewards. God is never a waster of resources – He makes use of His resources wisely without any wastage

3. Learn the art of Self-Evaluation

According to Luke 15:17, when he came to his senses, he asked himself saying, "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger?" The prodigal son after all he had done realized he was out of the way and therefore examined himself, thinking of how glorious and wealthy his Father is – without wasting any time further, he made up his mind to go home and reconcile to his Father. Knowing your offense and when to turn back to the Father is the first step to receiving forgiveness, when you know your offense and know when to turn back, you're a step towards forgiveness. We know as human beings, being perfect may be a hard goal to achieve and we know we all are sinners, but knowing your sins and being ready to ask for forgiveness is an important step in the pathway of growing to perfection. Self-evaluation can never be overemphasized in the life of a Christian – we’d surely make mistakes but knowing your mistakes and being ready to correct them is a blessing.

4. Always acknowledge your offense and ask for Forgiveness

Again, in Luke 15:18-19 and verse 21, the prodigal decided to go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 21And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.  As said in the third lesson, we might not be perfect beyond mistakes, but knowing our sins and asking for forgiveness is a great step to perfection.

5. God is a Loving Father

 Luke 15:20-23

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:  And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

23 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Beyond the life of the prodigal son, we see the heart of a loving Father, who despite His son’s mistakes, opens his heart to receive and have compassion on him.

God is the loving Father. He knows we would always make mistakes, but He’s forever ready to forgive our mistakes and show us the correct way. For every mistake you might have made (or are making), and you think He’d never forgive you – here is another opportunity to remind you from the life of the prodigal son that God is a loving Father who is always ready to have compassion and mercy on you. (Matthew 12:7, Romans 3:23-24, Romans 6:23)

The story of the prodigal son is a story that teaches a lot about God’s love and compassion. We are not perfect, but He continually makes us perfect with His unending and undeserved love.

 The parable of the Prodigal Son is a well-known story in the Bible, which teaches us about God's love and forgiveness.

6. Hardwork is Valuable 

The value of hard work: The Prodigal Son wasted his inheritance, which he had received without hard work. His life turned around when he started working hard in the fields to earn his keep.

7. Our Actions Have Consequences 

The Prodigal Son experienced the consequences of his actions when he was left penniless and had to return to his father's home, where he was not received with open arms.

8. Forgiveness is Important

The father in the parable forgave his son despite his actions, showing the importance of forgiveness in our relationships.

9. Repentance is Powerful

The story of the prodigal son teaches us the power of repentance. The Prodigal Son realized the error of his ways and repented, which allowed him to reconcile with his father. This is just as the scriptures record that if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and seek my face

10. Our Decisions Have Powerful Consequences

Of a truth, God has given man the power to choose. However, we must understand that our decisions may have generic or specific impact and consequences on others. In the case of the Prodigal son, we see how his actions not only affected him but also impacted his family.

11. Humility is a Great Virtue

The Prodigal Son had to humble himself and admit his wrongdoing to his father, which was necessary for his reconciliation. This was significant to show humility as a virtue for believers in our world today

12. God's Love is Unconditional 

The father in the parable of the prodigal son represents God, who loves us unconditionally and is always ready to forgive us.


13. The importance of second chances

The Prodigal Son was given a second chance to make things right with his father, showing the value of second chances in our lives.

14. Materialism is Dangerous 

The Prodigal Son's wastefulness and love for material possessions led to his downfall.

15. There is great Joy in reconciliation

The Prodigal Son's reconciliation with his father brought joy to both of them, showing the power of reconciliation in our relationships.

16. Learn and Understand Timing

The prodigal son was not wrong to leave his father’s house. At different points in the Bible, male sons were required to leave their fathers and start a new life. However, the truth is that if you leave your father’s house at a wrong time, you will suffer for it. You must build capacity to withstand the outside world and as well understand God’s timing before you leave your father’s house.

Read: 6 Types of Nigerian Christians You Would find on a Bus

17. God has all that you need

You see, no charge of parental neglect was laid at the doorstep of the prodigal's father. He was a great role model, supporting his children in all ways (financial and emotion wise especially). He guided them and gave them a room to fail and a place to return. So we read that after a while, the prodigal son needed food - just as some need spiritual food in our world today. The prodigal son ran to his father who had this food in abundance (Luke 15:17). He understood that his father was wealthy and in the same way, believers today must understand that God has what will make you thrive [spiritually, health-wise, ministerially, etc] in abundance. You simply need to run to Him for help today and trust Him to surely restore you as His child, ("for this my SON" Luke 15:24) and strengthen you more.

Don’t Despise Backsliders when they Return

From verse 17, we see that the true change only came when he returned to his senses. A backslidden believer will only return because of the consciousness that they have gone astray. This consciousness is there because of God's love which draws them back so when it comes, you should not despise the backsliders. Instead, be happy for them and welcome them back into God’s large family. This aptly reminds me of Jaymikee’s Welcome Home theme song in the Mount Zion Classic Movie Series, Abattoir.


True fellowship with God entails true worship, studying the Scriptures and prayers among others. How is your fellowship with God like?  Is it growing, stagnant or declining? The last two shows a backsliding state. God understands. He understands that you can be busy with normal everyday life AND STILL HAVE A GOOD TIME FOR HIM. That's why He has given you the Holy Spirit to HELP you [with everything all together]. He's powerful! 

Are you like this prodigal son? With fleshy desires? Desire to get mad, watch pornography, masturbate, fornicate, lie, etc. What is your weakness? Do they control you instead of God's Spirit? (Galatians 5:16). You should beware of backsliding as that's the only way you can be cured. To do this, simply focus on Jesus as the source of your righteousness.

If you have backslided, please, say this prayer:

Oh Lord, thank you for your grace. I am sorry for going outside your will. Please restore me in Jesus' name. Amen.

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