News Helping Your Child Hear God’s Voice“How do I help my child hear God’s voice?” It’s a question that we often get here at the Children’s Equipping Center. Parents, pastors, and children’s ministry leaders have a fervent desire to help their children learn how to communicate with the Holy Spirit and understand what He is speaking to them. However, there is no simple 5-step process that we can give as an easy answer to this question. In fact, we may be asking the wrong question. The right question is, “How do I cultivate an environment where my child can develop an intimate relationship with Jesus in which my child is both communicating to Him and receiving communication from Him?” In Luke 18:16, Jesus told the disciples to “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” We believe that with these words, Jesus expressed what was in the Father’s heart for children. Jesus gave His exposition on children’s ministry and answered all of our questions about how to equip them in one statement: the kingdom of God is theirs. It already belongs to them. In other words, the kingdom of God is just as accessible to children as it is to adults. In fact, Jesus told the disciples that to enter into that kingdom, they should become more like the children! As parents, pastors, and children’s ministry leaders, we must start from the understanding that our children were created to know God and know His voice, and then we must teach, train, and release them to do so. In the Children’s Equipping Center, we begin teaching the language of the Bible and the nature of God at age 1. We believe it is important to give them the language of prayer, show them the Father’s heart for them, teach them what Jesus has done for them, and introduce them to the Holy Spirit, which lays the foundation for their relationship with the living God. The young children are taught to believe that God has countless precious thoughts about them that He desires to share. We pray for them and teach them to pray for their ears to be opened and eyes to be enlightened and to believe for the promise of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:17. As children grow older, we like to train them to identify the different ways in which God can speak, for example through nature, the Bible, wisdom, situations, dreams, visions, words of knowledge, and of course, through His audible voice. We also help children identify various messages they could be hearing in their own mind by examining the content of what they are hearing. For example, God’s voice is truth and will not contradict Scripture or tell us to exhibit ungodly behavior or hurt anyone or break His commandments; it speaks about us surrendering more to Him and His desires; it always gives us a peace, even when asking us to do something hard; it always gives us a choice to obey or not; it is gentle and guiding; it carries authority; it brings conviction but not condemnation (telling us we are bad); it is always wise; it is in harmony with His Word, character, and nature. Satan’s voice lies and will never validate God or the Scriptures; it is self-centered, making everything about me (example: she was wrong and I’m right); it does not have peace; it is demanding and pushy (do it now, don’t wait); it commands and gives no choice; it is unwise and deceptive; it causes uneasiness and feels contradicting. We teach 5 Questions to Ask about the message you may be hearing: Does this word help me to respect the Lord and depart from evil? Does it increase my faith in my knowledge of God and understanding of the Scriptures? Will my actions following these words be full of and bear the fruit of the Spirit? Will these words strengthen me with might so I can keep going no matter what? Does it cause me to experience joyfulness and thanksgiving to the Father? We also release the children to practice hearing God’s voice for others, in a safe and supervised environment, for the purpose of encouraging and building others up. We hope we have given you a fresh perspective on the question of helping children to discern God’s voice, along with some ideas for teaching and training them. The Holy Spirit has divine ideas on how to equip your child, so ask Him for wisdom and guidance in how to best parent or lead your child or children into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Tips for Checking Toddlers into Class at ChurchAmy Dirks As you may have found, 1–2 year olds sometimes have a hard time staying in class or even getting through the door! Others come happily for a few months and when they hit 18 months or 2 years old, they cry whenever they are dropped off and usually do not stay through service. Although every child is different, here a few ideas that have helped children find joy in coming to class: Have Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa stay in class with your child for a few weeks. New environments make me cautious, too, so I understand! Have an older sibling or cousin sit in class with them. This is especially helpful for 1 year olds. Just let your child’s teacher know he or she would like to stay. Consistency is so helpful! If you miss a few weeks, it might take a few weeks for your child to get comfortable coming to class again. Get a drop-off routine developed. Here are few ideas: Pass your child directly to a worker in the classroom. They might cry for a few minutes, but some children feel safe with the person they were entrusted to by their parent. Bring your child into the classroom and show them the toys. As they see all the options, they might see that class is fun and want to stay. Then you can slip out. This does not always work, as many times children realize you slipped out and will start crying for a few minutes or not calm down. Yet for some it works. Wait for snack time! Sometimes just a cup of goldfish makes all the tears go away! Every child is so different and some might not want to go to class until they are 3 years old. It also helps talking with your child’s teacher to see if they have any other ideas specific for your child. I hope these ideas help you! Five Ways to Help Your Child Develop a Prayer LifeOur children are capable of knowing God in a deep way. By spending 25 minutes a week, 5 minutes a day of focused prayer, we can help children develop a life long thirst and hunger to pray. We must teach our children principles of enjoyable prayer that assist them in developing an on going dialogue with God and a thirst for communion with Him. Consistency is vital for most anything to be successful. I have spent over 30 years helping parents, leaders, and children understand God’s desire for them to grow in Prayer, Praise, Power and the Prophetic. This simple game plan if done each week, will help our children and our family grow to having a life long thirst and hunger for prayer. 1. Having a Heart of Thanksgiving – Monday Each Monday, help your child to make a list of everything he/she is thankful for. Make a new list every Monday. Encourage your child to recognize all he/she has to be thankful for, including God’s provision for all his/her needs, salvation, existence, and things God may have done for your family in the past. Using the list, spend 5 minutes together thanking the Lord together for Who He is and what He has done. Take turns, and pray out loud. By consistently doing this exercise each week, your child’s heart will grow in understanding God’s goodness and love and be trained to recognize God’s personal involvement in his/her life. 2. Have a Heart of Worship – Tuesday On Tuesdays, spend five minutes in worship. Children are born with the ability to worship, so encourage your child to worship the Lord with freedom. Encourage your child that Jesus hears, sees, and loves his/her worship. Allow your child to see you enjoying worship and putting all of your attention on Jesus. Read Scriptures together that reveal the beauty of Jesus and worship in Heaven, such as Revelation chapters 4 and 5. Find out your child’s favorite worship song – many have one that they already know and love. Sing this song together for 5 minutes. 3. Having a Heart for His Word – Wednesday Spend five minutes reading God’s Word each Wednesday. Each time, start by teaching your child to ask Holy Spirit for help in understanding God’s Word. You might choose to read your child’s Bible together or choose the Bible verses you have been studying yourself, which can build unity as you study the verses together. After you are finished reading, it is helpful to explain Bible verses to your children in words they understand. An easy exercise for helping your child grow in understanding of Scriptures can be summarized as read it, say it, write it, sing it, pray it. You can even make up hand motions, songs, or dances together that will help you and your child easily remember Bible verses. 4. Having a Heart for the Lost – Thursday Together, make a list of people in his/her life who do not know Jesus. Start with family members, and also include people like your child’s doctor, dentist, teachers, peers, etc. Depending on the age and maturity of your child, talk about salvation through Jesus alone and the consequences of not believing in Jesus. Each Thursday, spend five minutes praying together out loud from the Scriptures, such as Ephesians 1:17, for the people on the list to encounter Jesus and be saved. Take turns praying out loud, allowing yourself to be vulnerable before the Lord and your child, as you model heartfelt, fervent prayers. As you pray each week, your child will develop a longing for the lost to be saved. 5. Having Heart for the Sick – Friday Help your child make a list of people in his/her life who need healing. Then spend five minutes praying from the Scriptures, such as Acts 4:29-30, that God would stretch out His hand with healing for them in the name of Jesus. Take turns praying out loud, allowing yourself to be vulnerable before the Lord and your child, as you model heartfelt, fervent prayers. Add new names or take names off the list each week, remembering to thank the Lord and acknowledge His answers to your prayers. Lenny La GuardiapositionVice President of Ministries, IHOPKCExecutive Director, Children's Equipping Center, IHOPKCFor over three decades, Lenny and Tracy La Guardia have devoted their lives locally and internationally to equipping, empowering, and mobilizing young people, parents, and leaders with biblical truths and relevant strategies for ministering to children and youth today. Lenny and Tracy are the executive directors of the Children’s Equipping Center (CEC) at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, where they lead a missionary staff that equips children from all over the world. Currently, the CEC provides over 130 hours a week of children’s services. Lenny also serves as the senior vice president of IHOPKC’s Ministries and Justice Divisions, giving oversight to vital ministries that mobilize the values and priorities of the IHOPKC Missions Base in Kansas City and abroad. Lenny started the Grandview, Missouri, Police Chaplains in 2007 and currently serves as a police chaplain. Lenny and Tracy have been married for 38 years and have five children: Leonard, Leatha, Andrea, Adrienne, and Shontavion.