You know, we will not always be around when the time comes for our children to make the tough decisions in life. They need a higher authority – one that will always be with them even after we are gone. One they can trust to guide them. We can count on our all-knowing Heavenly Father, God.
So how do you teach a child to listen for and to God?
I suspect if children are taught to pray, read scripture and be obedient, that it might actually be easy for them to learn to listen for God and obey His voice. After all, the Bible says:
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
Adults need the childlike faith mentioned in Mark to come to the Lord and to learn to listen and to trust what we hear. Children are much more ready to accept what they hear from God. They do not question like we do. They do not want to be sure the numbers add up or the plan makes sense. They just take God at his Word.
Prepare them to be taught. In order to be able to teach a child to hear God, they first must have a desire to know God. Taking a child to Sunday School and Church, teaching them to pray, and teaching them scripture are all important steps.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
When a child accepts Jesus as their Savior and wants to follow Him, the child will most likely have a desire at that time to know even more about God. If they have not accepted Jesus as their Savior and made Him Lord of their life, you can share the plan of Salvation with them. If they are not ready to accept the Lord, pray for them. (Need help sharing the plan of Salvation? Go here.)
Teach them to be obedient. Their image of God is often based on their image of their father. A child must learn to obey. If he cannot obey earthly parents who he can see, he will have a hard time obeying God who he cannot see. (The purpose of hearing God? To obey, right?)
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
The 5th Commandment
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Teach them scripture. Everything God tells them will be in line with His word. When faced with a tough decision, God will be able to use scripture to guide them.
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
II Timothy 3:15-16
The more scripture they know the better. Yes, memorization very important, but also teach them how to find verses they cannot fully recall. (I am familiar with many more verses than I can easily look up.)
Keep a prayer journal, and pray with them. God speaks when He answers prayer. As their prayers are answered – yes, no, and wait (the hardest for me is wait!) – help them to connect the answer with their prayer by finding it and dating it in their journal. By this they will know that God is faithful in hearing their prayers. They will also learn to recognize how God answers prayer.
After they have begun to see how God works — send them to God for an answer. Be sure to pick something small. See what they come back with. You may have to guide their first few responses – should they try to tell you something that is obviously not of God – but then again, you may be surprised! Keep reading….
When the boys were younger, we had them in choir. Choir ended for the summer. Then summer ended. And the next session was about to start. Drew, at the age of about 6, announced that he was not planning to be in choir.
Now that may not seem like a big thing, but the choir teacher had told me that Drew had sung something on key. I knew that God had given him some ability.
I could have let it go without further discussion. I could have pushed him into it. I decided I wanted it to be his decision, but I wanted to see what he would do if he first took it to God. I told him – Drew, God gave you the ability to carry a tune. I would think He expects you to use it. I elaborated some and said something like – ask God what He wants you to do.
After about a week passed, I asked him what God had told him. He said God had told him to be in choir. – But he did not want to be!
Now this, out of the mouth of a 6 year old! Some adults don’t know what God wants them to do, but he knew. And he readily admitted he did not want to do it!
I told him he needed to pray about obedience! And he did. A day or 2 later, he came to me and told me he had decided to obey. That fall, he was in the choir again.
I knew by the way he responded that he really had taken it to God. It would have been easier for him to have told me that God said he wanted him to do something else instead. I would not have been able to prove him otherwise. Instead, he admitted his willfulness. He had learned to hear the Lord – even at 6 years old.
It is my hope for you and yours that you will be able to instill in your children a love for the Lord and a desire to listen for their Heavenly Father’s voice and walk in obedience to Him.
Blessings from The Bouncing Beaver!
**Learning to Walk: A series of true-life stories. I hope you will find them motivational and encouraging as you strive to walk by faith. Names of family and friends are used only with their permission.