Teaching Children to Focus on God
Listening to God is one of the most important skills we can ever acquire. When believers know how to hear Him, they become much less vulnerable to temptation. Early childhood is the ideal time for someone to learn how to focus on the Lord. If children don’t start this training as kids, it becomes more difficult as they go into their teen and young adult years.
Here are some practical ways to train your children to focus on God, an important step in learning to hear His voice.
Encourage preschoolers to pray throughout the day. This will set a pattern of daily communication with the Lord. But because their attention spans are short—usually just one minute per year of life—guide them toward short prayers of gratitude. For example:
“Thank You, God, for the pretty flowers.”
“Thank You, God, for the yummy ice cream cone!”
“Thank You, God, for our family.”
Prayers like these lay a foundation of thankfulness to God as the wonderful Creator of good things. Philippians 4:6 reminds us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (emphasis added). You will find that most preschoolers love to express thanks to God.
Find a good Bible geared to preschoolers, and read it to your children regularly. Kids love listening to stories and looking at pictures from an age-appropriate, well-written Bible storybook. For ages 1-3, try The Beginner’s Bible, and for older pre-schoolers, try The Jesus Storybook Bible. Once your children are past the book-tearing phase, you can let them look at the pictures and “read” the Bible on their own. A good children’s Bible will help them develop a love for God’s Word.
Elementary school kids should also have their own copy of the Scriptures. Look for a children’s Bible in an easy-to-comprehend translation designed for elementary students. (NIV Adventure Bible is a great resource.) Even before children become Christians, they can read the Word and ask God to help them understand it. You may want to guide your children to passages with clear application so they don’t get bogged down in difficult sections of Scripture.
Give them their own prayer journals. Then encourage them to ask God to help them understand a particular Bible passage and how to apply it to their lives. Have them write down anything God reveals. (But don’t expect too much—early
elementary students might write just one to three sentences.)
When you pray with your child before bed, get on your knees with them. (Also let them “catch” you on your knees in prayer during your times alone with God.) Kneeling helps us concentrate on Him and hear Him better, and is one way we can demonstrate humility before the Lord.
Encourage kids to write down some of their prayers. Have them begin with simply keeping a list of requests and the ways God answers. As children mature, you can encourage them to write out their prayers as letters to the Lord.
Last, don’t forget to pray for your children as they begin the life-long journey of listening to God’s voice. It’s not always easy to focus on the Father’s message to us, but it is definitely worth the effort!
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