The best Christian books on prodigals, prayer, forgiveness, and never giving up

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with the subjects of forgiveness and reconciliation most of my life. I’ve spent years researching people of the Old Testament, and as I read their stories, I see their need for these things in their relationships. It is a universal need of humans. Because I write about people who actually lived, I read books that deal with the things we all face. Truth is, time may change, but the human heart does not. I’m an amateur theologian and avid reader of books that will help me grow as a person and allow me to understand these ancient people who walked before us.


I wrote...

The Prince and the Prodigal

By Jill Eileen Smith,

Book cover of The Prince and the Prodigal

What is my book about?

Joseph is the pampered favorite son of the patriarch Jacob. His older brothers, deeply resentful of his status in the family, take advantage of the chance to get rid of him, selling him to slave traders and deceiving their father about his fate. It seems like their troubles are over. But for Joseph and older brother Judah, they are just beginning.

While Joseph is accused of rape and imprisoned, Judah attempts to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother. After decades apart, the brothers will come face-to-face in a stunning role reversal that sees Joseph in a position of great power while Judah begs for mercy. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?

The books I picked & why

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Forgiving What You Can't Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That's Beautiful Again

By Lysa TerKeurst,

Book cover of Forgiving What You Can't Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That's Beautiful Again

Why this book?

In The Prince and the Prodigal, Joseph has suffered a huge injustice from the people who should have loved him the most. Lysa’s book deals with the subject of familial hurt and pain, and though Joseph’s situation was not exactly the same, the principles of forgiving those who have wronged us even when we can’t forget what they did is the same.

Everyone experiences hurt or pain from another person. Unfortunately, the ones who hurt us the most tend to be the ones we love the most. I’ve read other books on forgiveness because it’s a subject I’ve had to deal with most of my adult life. When I picked up Lysa’s book on forgiving what you can’t forget, I did a lot of underlining because her words resonated with deep places in my own heart. 

One underlined place says, “Destructive choices always affect more people than just the one who makes them.” 

Joseph lived with the destructive choices his brothers, particularly Judah, made against him. Judah suffered his own consequences for those choices, but Joseph had the most to forgive. 


Prayers and Promises for Worried Parents: Hope for Your Prodigal. Help for You

By Robert J. Morgan,

Book cover of Prayers and Promises for Worried Parents: Hope for Your Prodigal. Help for You

Why this book?

This is an encouraging book for parents whose adult children have not only left home but left behind their relationships with family and faith. Those who watch them leave either angrily or in a slow fade, the result is the same. They are devastated. And there is nothing they can do about it.

In this book, Robert Morgan offers sample prayers and encouraging stories for anyone who is longing for a loved one’s return. He quotes Ruth Bell Graham when she said, “God loves to be reminded of His promises. He never rebukes us for asking too much.”

I don’t know if Jacob prayed for his prodigal’s (Judah’s) return, but I know that this book would encourage any parent who does.


Don't Give Up: Faith That Gives You the Confidence to Keep Believing and the Courage to Keep Going

By Kyle Idleman,

Book cover of Don't Give Up: Faith That Gives You the Confidence to Keep Believing and the Courage to Keep Going

Why this book?

It’s far too tempting when we go through rough patches in our lives to want to give up. When we long for something and pray for years and still wait, quitting sounds like the best option. I nearly quit writing after twenty years of trying to break into publishing because I didn’t think I could take any more rejection. 

In this book, Idleman points out that some people come to Jesus expecting Him to make life easier. But life is hard. Idleman says, “One way we know we’re running the race marked out for us is the presence of regular, unexpected challenges.” 

Joseph could relate to that all his life. I can too.


Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God's Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People

By Jim Cymbala, Dean Merrill,

Book cover of Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God's Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People

Why this book?

Even committed Christians lose heart sometimes. We all need a breath of God’s fresh wind, the fresh fire of His Spirit moving in our lives. I picked up this book at a time when I needed just such encouragement. 

Like Joseph, we all face devastating trials, heartbreak, emotional struggles. It’s part of the human condition. And I’d bet I’m not alone when I say I’ve known what hopelessness feels like.

I loved this quote from the book: “In the same way, God does His most stunning work where things seem hopeless. Wherever there is pain, suffering, and desperation, Jesus is.”

We may not realize it, but everyone everywhere desperately needs Jesus. Joseph needed Him in the pit and the prison. We need Him in our private pits and prisons too.


Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

By Timothy Keller,

Book cover of Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

Why this book?

Prayer is like breath to me. I am a writer who prays best when I’m writing my prayers in a journal or on the computer. 

In every book I write, my characters pray. They are people from the pages of Scripture, so they knew the God of the Bible. To know God is to communicate with Him. Joseph probably did a lot of praying. Judah…not so much. But eventually, I think both wanted to communicate with their Creator.

In praying, the book says, the Spirit of God “assures you that you are a child of the only One whose opinion and power matters. He loves you to the stars and will never let you go.” Prayer is a connection I can’t live without because it touches God’s heart and mine.


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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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