Guided Reflection: The Prodigal Son (Older Son Perspective)

Age Range
Number of Participants
10-15 minutes

About the reflection

This is a reflection (suitable for ages 11-14) which helps the listener engage with the story of the Prodigal Son from the perspective of the older son.

For a larger group and at least two group leaders

  • If you have a larger group it could be a good idea to read from the parable beforehand and give them a moment to reflect on which of the sons they relate to the most, older or younger
  • After a moment of silence split the room into older and younger son
  • Move to pre-allocated rooms with each team leader
  • The younger son reflection can be found here

Getting comfortable 

Get the young people to find a comfortable space, either lying on the floor or in chairs depending on how alert you would like the listeners to be.

You can read out the reflection word for word from now…

Be aware of the floor beneath you… supporting you… try and relax all of your muscles and just let the tension go… starting with your feet… then your legs… your stomach… your shoulders… imagine that you are just melting into the floor… and finally… try and empty your mind… let your mind rest and let go of any thoughts or worries…

Be aware of your breathing… take a long deep breathe in… and then breathe out slowly… do that a couple more times…

Stay focused on your breathing…  concentrate on that movement of air in….. and out of your body… this time when you breathe in… imagine that you are breathing in peace and stillness… and as you breath out… let all the stress and worries leave your body… and just let go of any tension…

So breathe peace and stillness in… let stress and tension out…

It is important that as we move into this time with God that you have an open heart and a spirit of expectancy. Trust that God wants to talk to you and will in this time if you listen. As we open ourselves up to thinking about God’s love and our place in His family, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to be here to help us and guide us in this meditation…

Entering into the story 

I would like you to imagine that you are in a large field on a farm. It is the middle of the day. You can see clearly across the field. Look around you, slowly. What can you see? Are there any animals? What is the weather like?

You start to work in the field. What kind of work are you doing? Is it hard work?

You stop your work for a moment and look up. You can see the house just at the bottom of the field. It is your house. As you are looking a man exits from the door. It is The Father. What does he look like? How does he walk? As he starts to walk you notice he is heading towards another figure. He is walking towards your younger brother. What does your brother look like? What is he doing? As the father reaches they appear to be in conversation. You start to walk towards them. Can you hear what they are saying? You are now near enough to hear your brother say

“Give me the share of my inheritance now”

You look at The Father. What does his expression look like? A few moments later you see The Father reach at a cloth bag hanging from his belt. It must be your brother’s inheritance money! He hands it to your brother. What do you think of The Father giving it to him? Your younger brother turns, walks off down the path and out of the field. You watch him go. How does it feel to see your brother walk away? You turn towards The Father. What expression does he have on his face? You have just seen The Father give your brothers inheritance away. Do you think he should have let him have it? Do you say anything to him?  After a while you start to walk in the opposite direction. You walk as far as you can go, to the furthest field of the farm. You turn to look back. You can just about make out the figure of The Father, standing there. He is looking in your direction. Can you hear anything? Is The Father standing there, or is he calling you? You begin to work in the field again. What do you start with? How late do you work? Do you go home that night?

You continue to work in the fields. You can see The Father in the early morning light looking out to the road that your brother walked out from. He seems to be holding his hand up to his eyes as if trying to see him, but there is no one coming back. He looks over to the field where you are standing, hand up to his eyes.

Time goes on. You continue to work the fields. The Father comes out every so often to look out into the road again, and look back to you. The day grows late and the sun has started to set. All of a sudden you hear a loud shout! It sounds like a very happy shout! Can you hear what the voice shouts? You turn from your work and look to see The Father running as fast as can down the road your brother left on. You look closely at the road. You can make out a small figure. Could it be your brother? Any doubt is soon dispelled as you hear the father yell, loud and clearly MY SON! How do you feel, knowing that your brother is back now? You start to slowly make your way to them. As you get closer, The Father and your brother also get closer together. You stop just as they both meet in a HUGE embrace! In the embrace you hear your brother speak.

‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son”

But the father yells back to the house and says

Housekeeper! My son! My son has returned! We must celebrate! Quickly, bring out one of the best robes we have! Get a golden ring too, and new sandals for him! Prepare a huge meal too!

How does this make you feel?

The Father is alone again and comes to you

Look, son, your brother has returned! Come into the house now and celebrate with us!

What is your reply to him? Are you angry? Do you feel this is just? The father looks at you as you talk. Does he say anything back? When you finish speaking he says

My child, it is right that we celebrate now! Your brother was lost and was left for dead, but he is home now.
“Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours

Do you enter the house?

* At this point leave a long period of silence*

Now become aware of being back in this room, lying on the floor. Think back over the meditation and see which part stood out the most for you. Perhaps it was working in the fields or was it when your younger brother took his inheritance from the Father or maybe it was when your younger brother left. Perhaps the moment that stood out for you was when your younger brother returned or was it when the father asked you to come and join the party. When you know which part of the meditation stood out sit up slowly.

**** You might want to get the young people to now share how they found the reflection. Try and challenge them as to what God might be trying to say to them about the things that stood out. If they don’t know then tell them not to worry but to keep it in their minds and come back to it in their own time ****