What does it mean to be a Prodigal?

What does it mean to be a Prodigal?

Luke 15:11-32

In this lesson we will look at the true definition of the word prodigal and see how it applies to the young man in the story. As a result of this we will apply this to us in a spiritual sense and see if we are being a prodigal.

The common definition given by people for a prodigal would be someone who has gone astray. Many people apply this to their children when they have raised them in church and then they leave and go to the world to live contrary to what they were taught in church. While this does resemble the young man in the story it is not the definition of the word. Let us look at the definition of the word.

Prodigal – Given to extravagant expenditures; spending money or other things without necessity; profuse; lavish; wasteful; not frugal or economical. [American Dictionary of the English language, Noah Webster, 1828]

This gives us a whole new meaning on the word. Note twice in the passage the young man who is the prodigal is said to have wasted his father’s living (verses 13,30). For this lesson we will look at the thought of a prodigal being a wasteful person.

What did the Prodigal waste?

1)  His money (verse 13)

  • Note in the verse he gathered together all that he had and when he returned home he had nothing.
  • We must ask ourselves how much money we waste.

2)  His substance (verse 13)

  • In the verse it says that he wasted his substance with riotous living.
  • Many times when we live a rebellious life we not only waste our money but we waste our health.
  • We must ask ourselves are we wasting our health.

3)  His time

  • The passage doesn’t tell us how much time he spent in the far country.
  • How much time have you wasted in your life? Time is one of the most precious things that we have because we have no idea how much of it we really have.

4)  His father

  • How many nights sleep do you think the father spent worry about his son? We must realize when disobey our parents we are wasting them in a sense (Proverbs 19:26)

5)  His inheritance (verse 31)

  • When the prodigal returned home the other son was mad that his father had made a big feast for him. But note that the father told him all that he had was his.
  • The prodigal had wasted his inheritance and that was all he would get.
  • If we choose as saved people to not work for the Lord we are not losing our salvation but we are losing our inheritance.


What does it mean to be a Prodigal?

Luke 15:11-32


1)  What is the normal way in which we use the word Prodigal?


2)  What is the definition of the word Prodigal?


3)  What did the Prodigal waste?



4)  What can we learn from this concerning being a prodigal?