We all want our kids to have a relationship with Jesus. One of the ways we do this is through prayer. When you pray with your kids, does it feel like you do most of the praying? I know I do. But what I really want is for them to speak to God for themselves. It’s great to pray together (and we should), but how often do we leave them to speak with God on their own.
If you ask your kids what prayer is and how do you do it, what might they say? “You must say Dear God”, “you should always end with Amen”, “you must sit a certain way”. It can often feel like you are rattling off a list of requests and leaving a message on God’s answering machine than actually having a backwards and forwards conversation with Him.
Chat and Catch is a way to help our kids build that relationship directly with God. It was created by Rachel Turner of Parenting of Faith. You can learn more from her book Parenting Children for a Life of Faith: Helping Children Meet and Know God. Check out the links below for more information.
God wants to share the big moments and the little moments with us. Saying “let’s chat with God” implies a more conversational communication than prayer.
Catching from God implies a readiness and awareness to receive from God, more so than listening. We can use our whole bodies to receive what God wants to say to us.
So let’s give it a go!
To get them started, tell your child you are going to give them some questions to ask God. They can talk to God in their head (in that place where they can say their name in their head) , or they can whisper into their hands or a pillow. Under 6s in particular have not yet developed an inner voice, so whispering into their hands or a pillow is a great way for them to communicate with God. It gives them the confidence that what they are saying is just between them and God
As you suggest questions they may want to share with you what they said, so just remind them that it’s just between you and God and they can tell you at the end of the questions.
Allow time between each question for the kids to think of their answer and to tell God. Encourage them to start their response with something like “Hi God, I want to tell you that my favourite colour is……..”
- Your favourite colour
- Your favourite book
- What made you happy today
- Your favourite food
- Something that you like about God
- The worst smell you can think of
- What made you sad today
Mixing up small and big issues gives them experience of knowing that God cares about the big and the little things, so when something big happens in their lives, they have confidence to talk to God about it.
Now we are going to “catch” what God wants to tell us in return. “Catching” is about listening out for what God wants to tell us.
To prep your child for catching, we need to be aware of some of the ways God talks to us. He can use our whole body to talk to us:
- Skin – we can feel God’s presence, eg it could be tingling, warmth, a pressure sensation on our bodies
- Mind – picture your house – that place is where God puts pictures. He also directs our thoughts – when you say your name in your mind, that’s where God also speaks. God talks to us in that place, he draws our attention to things
- Dreams – not all dreams are from God. But you might wake up and just know it was different and from God
- Heart (guts) – you just know that you know
- Emotions – overwhelmed with peace, joy, love, justice – we can sense God’s heart for things
- Eyes and Ears – some may actually hear or see God
Now we are going to be quiet and we are going to ask God a question (again get them to whisper in their hands)
- What do you love about me?
- What’s your favourite thing about me?
Now allow them time to “catch” God’s response. See if they want to share what they heard.
While our kids are learning to hear from God and distinguish His voice, it’s important to debrief with our kids. As we generally have had more experience we can help them understand what they have experienced. We know God’s character so if they say something like “God told me to hit my brother” well quite obviously that’s not from God.
They will learn to recognise God’s voice only by perceiving it over and over again, with you helping them to identify and affirm it accurately. The more they experience it, the more they will know it and begin to recognise it on their own. Children need to learn how to take what they ‘catch’ and make sure that it is from God. This is a relatively easy process of matching what they hear to what we know about him from the Bible.
Why not take some time with your children to make a chart that has ‘From God’ and ‘Not from God’ written at the top? You can make up all sorts of silly thoughts and your children can put them in the right categories, so that they learn ahead of time how to identify what is from God and what isn’t.
What if they’re not hearing from God
If they aren’t hearing, encourage them to keep going. Suggest they talk to God about not hearing from him. Like anything new, sometimes we just need to give it a go. But we can trust that God is always talking and wants to share life with us, so keep going.
If kids are struggling it’s ok to not want to chat and catch. Sometimes just being in his presence is enough. Maybe put on some music and “be still and know that I am God”.
You can also chat without words, just emotions, or play a movie of something in your mind you want to share with God. Or go for a walk and take pictures of what you think God is showing you right now.
Now that you’ve given your child some framework for having a conversational relationship with God, it’s important for you to model it. This may feel awkward at first, but it’s important to give our kids a window into what our relationship with God looks like.
You can start by praying out loud instead of in your head so your kids can see how you do it. “Jesus, I’m so happy that the sun is shining. Thank you for the sun.” or “Jesus, I’m feeling a bit sad right now. Would you give me a hug?” Let your children hear and see you doing this throughout the day. Show them what doing life with Jesus looks like in your life.
Check out these videos of experiences other parents have had with this technique.
In relationship, we share the little things in life because, eventually, big things will come along, and we need to know that the other person in that relationship cares about and can handle both.