Recently we visited our children and grandchildren in another state. In both homes the preschool children began the meal with a prayer. I was delighted to hear the kids’ prayers; it warmed my heart. I was happy to hear their parents were encouraging their kids to pray, which led me to wonder how I came to know the Lord.
I did not grow up in a Christian home, and I do not remember very many prayers at meals, except when my grandparents were present or when we were with them. We attended church when we visited them, which I remember as being fun. My grandmothers mentioned that they prayed for me, which I thought was nice, but it did not mean too much. In my early 20s, I recognized that Christians had something I did not have, peace. They were comfortable with themselves and kind to others. As I was drawn to them, I began to observe and see how they did what they were told to do. For instance, “Bow and humbly pray” In some churches I observed, people did not bow and were not humble. I searched until I stumbled upon a church that seemed to do more bowing and praying.
Up to this point my experience with Christ was infant baptism, going to church when visiting family and observing Christians. In this new church, I began a Bible study with some older women during the day. Because my job was an evening shift, I was able to attend this daytime study. I had some weird ideas, but these ladies never corrected me; they simply suggested I read the book of John. I read, we talked, they guided with love, the love of Jesus. Soon I was confirmed, and I have been searching, growing, reading, connecting, and walking closer to my Lord each year.
This brought me to wondering how kids spiritually grow in their faith. As an educator, I know there are theories on how children’s minds grow cognitively, morally and in personality. So, it is reasonable to think that those same theories relate to children’s spiritual growth. Young children, like my grandkids, learn from the people around them, most often their parents. Then they are taught by their preschool, or play group, perhaps even at church in the nursery. As children grow, they attend Sunday school and learn from friends, church members, parents, and family. They then develop to the point they become decision-makers, guided by their parents, their friends, Sunday school teachers and youth ministers. In his online article* Do you know the ABCs of Spiritual Growth in Children?, Rich Chromey, D. Min., states,
Babies grow up. Children mature. The seeds of faith — acceptance or rejection — are planted early. As children grow, so does faith. Faith that doesn’t fit will eventually be abandoned. The goal of faith development is continual resizing and reinvention. We can’t expect a size 4 faith to last a lifetime. We must provide faith that’s culturally relevant and has personal meaning. … Children crave a faith that is understandable, relevant, and applicable. They want a faith that doesn’t wear out. Come to think of it so do I.
How do we make sure our faith does not wear out? Read the Bible: this is one of the most important activities for us to continue to grow spiritually. We will find new meaning and new faith as we search the Word of God. Gather with other believers: find a church, and attend; find groups in that church in which to engage. Perhaps one of these will be a ministry group, something that helps you serve the Lord. Pray: pray daily, talk to God, ask His direction, ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit, pray for others, open yourself to hearing God’s voice. Our Christian walk is not a one time, once and done thing. We need to continue to grow, to share, to experience the joy of Jesus. And as we read, gather, minister and pray we will find our faith in Jesus to be understandable, relevant and applicable.
* Dr. Chromey’s article is available at childrensministry.com/abcs-spiritual-growth/
“And the child grew and became strong; filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).