Isn’t it crazy how a parent can understand the incoherent babble of a toddler or preschooler when no one else can? Why is that? Because they spend a lot of time listening, they have practiced, and because they really want to understand the child. We can become better at hearing the voice of God by spending a lot of time listening, practicing, and desiring to hear his voice. Can children and youth hear God’s voice? YES! Like anyone, they need to be taught and practice to get better and better at it. Here are some simple steps that can be adapted to use with preschool through high school students. This is from a tool that a good friend of mine gave me many years ago. Please share your experiences.
1) Begin by teaching them to sit still before Jesus. In words they can understand, teach them that we have to become quiet on the inside just as we become quiet on the outside.
“Be still and know…..”
“I will still and quiet myself….”
2) Teach them that talking to God is only part of prayer, the other part is listening! Sometimes He will want to tell us things for ourselves and sometimes He will want to tell us things to help others.
3) Explain the ways they might “hear” from Jesus:
• A spontaneous thought or impression may come to mind, or they may see a word or phrase.
• A verse or Scripture reference may come to mind.
• A spiritual song may come to mind.
• They may see a picture, or “vision”.
• They may get a pain they didn’t have before, or see a body part.
4) Go to prayer, expecting, asking, the Holy Spirit to speak. Tell Him you are ready to listen.
“Here I am, Lord, speak, and I will listen.” I Samuel 10:3
5) Teach them that when they think they’ve “gotten” something, to ask the Lord what they should do. Remind them that the Lord will never:
• Tell them to do something wrong.
• Say something that disagrees with His Word.
• Instruct them to do something unloving.
“….do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
6) Encourage them to share what they think they heard. Decide together if this could have been something from Jesus.
7) They need to know it’s okay if they don’t get something every time. Encourage them, though, that God desires to speak to His children, and He will speak to them, too. If no one gets anything, try again!
“I am the Good Shepherd… and my sheep know my voice.”
8) Sometimes, they will come up with really off-the-wall things! Pray for discernment—sometimes it really will be from the Lord—and proceed accordingly. Always be encouraging and appreciative of whatever effort they make.
9) Teach them that it’s okay to make a mistake. Whether we are right or not with the word, we have caused no harm if we say it with LOVE!
I just love your pastoral self!