Recognising our children’s desire for God

“Can I get another ice cream?”

“Please, just five more minutes on the iPad?”

It’s often pretty easy to grasp the desires of our children. From a very early age, we begin to recognise the ‘hungry’ cry and we watch as they reach out to grab for what they desire.

I recently had the privilege of listening to David Ford, who has just published his commentary on the Gospel of John that has taken some 20 years to write. One of the things he has identified is that desire is at the heart of discipleship.

In John’s gospel, Jesus’ first question is: “What are you looking for?” And his final question to Mary in the garden after his resurrection is: ‘Who are you looking for?”

Both questions are about desire.

We see in our children and in each of us the power of desire. When we desire the right things in the right places, things can go wonderfully well. But when we desire the wrong things, life can go disastrously wrong.

When it comes to helping our children explore what it means to be a disciple, desire can be an interesting frame to help us.

Created by God, I believe that within each of us there is a desire to know God. And as children begin to navigate life, this desire can become apparent. It might be expressed in the questions they ask about God, the prayers they pray, or the inquisitiveness with which they listen to Bible stories.

The challenge is, amongst the busyness of life, how can we nurture and encourage their desire to know God?

For me, it’s been important to intentionally look out for these moments when they express a desire to know God. Just recently my youngest had a play date with a Ukrainian girl who has fled to the UK. She wanted to pray for her dad who has joined the army and she wanted to know God’s perspective. There was a desire to know God’s heart.

For me, it’s also been about creating space. That when a desire to know God has been specified, I take the time to talk about it together, perhaps taking time to read a story about Jesus or putting on a worship song that connects with that desire.

It’s also been about helping my kids to know that God has desires. The Lord’s Prayer includes the phrase ‘Your will be done,’ which can also be translated: ‘your desire be done’. It’s an opportunity to let them know that God desires our children to know him.

Amongst the desires for more ice creams and more screen time, let’s become more aware of the way our children often subtly show us a desire to know God.

By Andy Frost, director of Share Jesus International.

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