We teach kids at an early age to get good at making lists for God when they pray.
Believe me, I get the heart behind it. As a parent, we started praying over and with our kids before they could talk in hopes they would be used to the practice and discipline of it by the time they could speak.
But while we commonly build in times for prayer before the major milestones of our day (eating and sleeping, for example), I find it rare that families build in time for communal silence.
What do I mean by communal silence?
I mean waking up early to walk around the neighborhood in silence before work or school, simply appreciating God’s landscape. I mean taking time to sit at the dinner table as a family quietly for thirty seconds before starting a prayer to join together in spirit and quiet the noise of the day. I mean taking time to lie on the living room floor next to each other with eyes closed while listening to instrumental worship music to still the soul before bedtime. And yes, this can be done with kids of any age.
The youngest children may simply have to learn the practice of being quiet with their family at the dinner table or while in a stroller on a walk, while older kids will learn to put devices down and press pause long enough to tune in to something other than an iPhone or social media.tea
So how can we start teaching our kids to listen to the voice of Jesus when they pray?
Start small and start together. The tips above are a great starting point if you’re not already practicing the quiet presence of God.
But perhaps you’re looking for something even more practical…
For my family, learning to listen to the voice of Jesus and the Holy Spirit started with me asking my kids questions as they lay in bed before falling asleep, counting to ten, and then asking them if they heard, saw, or felt anything.
Remember, it’s safe to assume that if each child learns and experiences life differently, they will each hear and experience God differently. My youngest heard the most poignant things from God right away in these ten-second bursts. My oldest still admits to never ‘hearing’ God, but regularly sees pictures during these exercises, or feels things stir within her.
I must also warn you, be prepared to answer the question, “How do I know that was God?”
Of course, we will never have a definitive answer to that wise question, but I can tell you what I tell my children: God speaks to us in a way we understand and if we need clarification, we can always ask that of Him. If He lives in our heart, then it would only be natural that we would speak the same language.
If you’re looking for an even clearer way to start teaching even the youngest of kids to listen to the voice of Jesus through prayer, may I suggest Sarah Young’s book, “Jesus Calling Little Book of Prayers”?
If you’re familiar with the Jesus Calling series, you already know they are written in a voice inspired by God’s Word. This newest book offers simple prayers that will remind children that God made them, that He loves them, and that He loves to spend time with them. With simple language and engaging art, this sturdy board book will capture your little ones’ attention as they discover how to talk to Jesus in prayer.