I have a singer. She is six, almost sev­en, wants a pock­et knife, and sings con­stant­ly. She shares a bed­room with her sis­ter. And one day it was more than her sis­ter could take. The over­heard con­ver­sa­tion went like this: Intro­vert­ed sis­ter who loves qui­et: Please just shut up for a few min­utes. Can’t we have one morn­ing that you don’t sing?” Not so intro­vert­ed singer: When I was a baby God sang to me, I remem­ber. He taught me to sing. And I’m gonna sing.”

Is this true? Frankly, I don’t know, I wasn’t involved in the con­ver­sa­tion. Does she some­times sing just to irri­tate her sis­ter? Cer­tain­ly. Does she believe that God real­ly spoke through song to her? Absolute­ly. She says she knows it. Through song she brought great com­fort to her great-grand­fa­ther on his deathbed. Through song she has helped our home embrace a tone of love and celebration. 

It is my firm belief that chil­dren can and do hear from God. Just like adults, chil­dren can learn to dis­tin­guish God’s voice from the many oth­ers that are clam­or­ing for their atten­tion. We begin by under­stand­ing that we lis­ten and speak to God because we are in a rela­tion­ship with him. He is our Father and he inter­acts with us. 

All aspects of God’s char­ac­ter come from love, because God is love. God will nev­er be rude or self­ish or hate­ful, and he will nev­er speak to us in this man­ner. Instead his voice will be patient, kind, not brag­ging or pride­ful, not rude or self-seek­ing, not eas­i­ly irri­tat­ed; keep­ing no record of wrongs; not delight­ing in evil but rejoic­ing with truth (1 Cor. 13:4 – 7). The gospels are a huge help in know­ing the char­ac­ter of God. God is Christlike. 

Anoth­er way we can dis­tin­guish the voice of God is through tone. We know our mother’s voice because of the tone, or the way it sounds. It is sim­i­lar with God. We can learn to hear his tone. God’s tone leads and invites us, instead of dri­ving or push­ing us. He is qui­et, not loud. We can also know if we heard from God by the effects of what we heard. His words bring peace, love and joy, not anger, wor­ry, or dis­cour­age­ment. We will be more hope­ful, not hope­less. Our faith will be increased. We will be more under­stand­ing of oth­ers, rather than hat­ing oth­ers or think­ing we are bet­ter than others. 

Con­sid­er a silent lis­ten­ing prayer before din­ner or qui­et lis­ten­ing time before bed as spots in the day to cul­ti­vate lis­ten­ing. I love to hear what my chil­dren hear from God. After they share, we ask, does that sound like some­thing God would say. Does it fol­low the tone of scrip­ture, is the char­ac­ter like Christ? If so, we go with it. 

In what ways are your chil­dren hear­ing from God?

(I have bor­rowed much of the above from Dal­las Willard’s Hear­ing From God, and Jan Johnson’s Learn­ing to Hear God, A Per­son­al Retreat Guide.)

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Originally published July 2011