I have a friend that mentioned her girls spend a lot of time worrying that they can’t hear God answer them. What a very insightful thing for young minds to worry about! It can be such a challenge to help little minds wrestle with the concept of a big God that is so different from us! How many adults struggle with that as well? Don’t we all like our “god in a box” stereotypes better than the awesome Most High? Our “god in a box” stereotypes are neat, controllable, and fit into our current lifestyles quite well, thank you very much! The real God pushes us, challenges us, dismantles us, and “wows” us beyond our wildest imagination!
So, specifically to my friend’s question – how do we convey to children the mysterious ways that God answers us or talks to us? How can we help children understand how to hear God’s voice? Certainly, it is confusing (again, confusing for many adults as well!) – but perhaps it is easier for kids to grasp than we realize. Maybe we just really need to think through all the ways God speaks to us as adults, and then figure out how to articulate that in “kidspeak.”
First of all, while admittedly we sometimes do receive “clear cut” answers during prayer, most of the time we hear from God in a myriad of other ways that are not so “obvious” (for instance, the Holy Spirit may cause something to pop out to us while reading God’s word, the lyrics from a song may touch our heart, a friend or family member may say something that we believe to be nothing less than divinely inspired, etc.) Therefore, we need to point out to our children all the ways that God can and does speak to us througout the day. We need to stress to our children the importance of “listening” to God all throughout the day. After all, “listening is where love begins…” (said Mister Rogers). For instance:
1. When outdoors or enjoying nature – “Look a this beautiful sunset God gave us tonight! God enjoys all of His creation so much and wanted us to know how much He delights in His work, which includes you! You are dearly loved by our Creator and He gave us a special gift to remind us of that this evening. Let’s just sit here and enjoy this gift and see if God speaks to our hearts while we are admiring His work of art.”
2. When listening to worship songs or hymns (since God often speaks to us through His word, I try to use Scripture songs for children as often as possible – for some great Scripture song suggestions, check out Seeds Family Worship, Hide ‘Em In Your Heart, and Songs for Saplings) – “Let’s do an exercise that will help us listen for God to speak to our hearts. As believers of Christ, it just as important for us to listen to God as it is to speak to Him in prayer. We need to learn to worship God and “listen with all our heart” to see what He has to say to us. So, let’s focus right now on relaxing, listening to the music, and allowing God’s words to “wash” over us. Try to concentrate on God’s love, how much He cares for us, and to think about the wonders and blessings He has given us. See if God speaks to your heart while you are worshipping through these songs.”
3. In everyday interactions with others – “I noticed you were a really helpful friend to Susie today. It was so nice of you to share your toy with her after she fell down on the playground. You really showed a desire to make her feel better and that desire may have come from God’s voice speaking to your heart. God’s voice is kind, peaceful, and truthful and always agrees with the Bible. The Bible says to “Love our neighbors as ourselves.” By helping Susie today, you were loving her like the Bible commands. I am so pleased that you wanted to make her feel better. Isn’t it amazing how God can show us how to act or behave sometimes when we aren’t even thinking about it?”
These are just a few suggestions of ways that we can make our children aware of opportunities to listen for God’s voice. Since my son is four, I tend to have a “preschooler” mindset when it comes to ideas and explanations, but I did find a really great article that would be useful if you have older children who are struggling with hearing God’s voice. The article include suggestions such as “journaling” for the children to get a sense of when God is speaking to them. If you are interested in taking a read, you can find the article at the link below:
How have you helped your children understand how to hear God’s voice?