Do your remember your first love? Hard to forget, isn’t it? When you fall in love there are few things that can distract you from thoughts of that special someone. That person has your undivided attention—whether or not you’re in the same location. Your thoughts are on them from the time you wake until you go to sleep at night.
However, when it comes to giving our attention to God—the One who loves us most—it becomes a challenge. As with anything in our busy lives, this kind of committed concentration takes intentionality! This is something that we, as adults, can do with practice. We can also find ways to help our children learn to focus on God and His ways while they are still easily impressionable.
When children are young, it’s a great time to start them in the practice of devoting some time each day to focusing, or listening, to God. If children don’t start this training early in life, it becomes more difficult as they move into their teen and young adult years.
Here are a few “attention activators” to help kids focus on God:
With preschoolers, especially, we can engage them in simple prayers throughout the day. Due to their short attention spans (usually one minute per year of life), it’s best to have short thank-you type prayers with them. Examples are:
“Thank You, God, for the pretty flowers.”
“Thank You, God, for this yummy ice cream cone!”
“Thank You, God, for our family.”
These types of prayers lay a foundation of thankfulness for God as the wonderful Creator of things they come into contact with each day. This sets a pattern of daily communication with the Lord. We’re reminded in Philippians 4:6 to, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and . . . thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Preschoolers love to express thanks to God!
As your child grows into the elementary age group, he’ll learn to read. This is the opportune time to start him in reading from his own Bible, and keeping track of how the Lord speaks to him. Even if your child is not yet a Christian, he can learn to listen to God. The way this happens is through reading the Bible and asking God to help him know and understand the words he reads.
Another fun and interesting way to get your child involved in listening to God is to have her write down, or journal, just a few thoughts about what she reads from her Bible. It may be just 1-3 sentences in length for younger children. As your child develops in her maturity and comprehension, she can start reading full chapters. Afterwards, she can ask God to help her understand what she just read and then write it down in her journal.
Pray for your children as they begin this life-long journey of listening to God’s voice. It’s not always easy to focus on God’s message to us, but definitely something we all need to hear!
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