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.)

Text First Published July 2011