Is He listening?
It’s a question that many children (and, let’s be honest, adults too!) often wonder about.
When we talk to children about prayer, we often describe it as “talking to God”. And that’s true, of course. We certainly want to encourage our kids to talk with God – anytime, anywhere, about anything. We want them to know that they can tell God anything – they can brag or cry, complain or giggle. They can share anything about their day, their friends, their family – the things that went well, and those that didn’t. They can ask for help or healing for themselves, or for someone they know. Talking to God is a great thing – and no topic is too big or too small.
And we assure the kids that God is listening – absolutely!
But – how do we know?
Well – when we talk to people, how do we know they’re listening? We can tell that someone is listening when they look at us, when they nod or smile at us. But we can really tell that someone is listening – and understands – by what they say back to us. By the questions they ask, by the advice or suggestions, even when they just repeat what we’ve told them. Which means we need to listen to the other person too… We wouldn’t be very good friends if we only talked, and never listened to the other person, would we?
Turns out – talking to God is only half the conversation. Turns out – we need to listen too.
In the book of 1Kings, the prophet Elijah is listening for God. And there’s a “great and powerful wind” powerful enough to shatter rocks (and that, friends, is a pretty impressive wind!). But God wasn’t in the wind. So then there’s an earthquake (more crashing – more busted rock). But God isn’t in the earthquake either. And finally there’s a fire – but God’s not in the fire. At last, there’s a “gentle whisper”. And guess what – it’s God. God, speaking just to Elijah, in a soft voice, a whisper, in the quiet…
So – how do we help kids listen for God? How do we help children hear God’s whisper?
I think it starts with us listening for God too. I think it begins when we make it a practice to leave a small space for quiet in our own prayer times – and in the prayer times we share with our kids. Make it a habit to slow down a bit, to pause for a breath or two between each sentence and thought you share with God. Just breathe – and who knows? You might just hear God’s whisper back….