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Is God too busy to hear my prayers

What I believe to be true is what I will teach my kids (if I had any!): The moon moves around the Earth; brushing your teeth twice a day will keep them healthy and that God is up there in the sky being a distant and busy CEO! Yes, you read that right!

And if we were asked to examine who our kids thought God was really like….not just the ‘answers’ that a child can pluck from the bible or from the catechism or the school teacher…what they feel on an emotional level? What they pick up from mum/dad will greatly influence them on an emotional level. So, for me, sadly, I have always had a notion that God is a busy, distant, CEO type who won’t really 

see the necessity to truly nurture little old me….like my own parents….so I became self-reliant.

What type of God does your child experience?

Because we may never ask our kiddies what kind of a God they experience– we will never hear their thoughts and so never guide them. So, they make up their own ideas about God – deep within themselves: wrong ideas.

So before looking at 5 typical views that kiddies might have of God- we adults also need to ask ourselves these questions:

1. What is God really like from my personal experience?

2. What has shaped my view of Him?

As a child growing up, God was distant and didn’t really stoop down to help me. Over the years I have come to believe that He is not distant but is so close that it is beyond my comprehension. And He does ‘stoop down’ to help me. He is not aloof and He does desire my happiness. Well, this is all a work in progress and some days are better than others! But this is the general direction that it seems to be going!

What changed my view of God as the ‘Big CEO in the sky’? My personal experience of Him, which the Catholic Charismatic Renewal hugely influenced, and from seeing Him work in the lives of other Christians: friends from my own faith and from other denominations.

Here are 5 typical, polarised views that kids have of God which we need to gently guide

them away from – because any single view is not right. It turns God into someone who they can’t approach for one reason or other. And that’s exactly what we don’t want!

1. The busy, distant, CEO God

2. The jolly, happy, clappy God

3. The angry God

4. The mysterious God

5. ‘Buddy’ Jesus

Unless children really like God-they won’t connect with Him. This is the same for adults too, of course! We are all on this journey together…

The busy, CEO God

This God is so busy, praying about everything that is happening in the world; birthing babies and helping the dying go to the right place-He doesn’t have time to slow down and listen to little me. A child may feel their prayers are even too slow and not word perfect for the busy God!

To counteract this, we must first talk more slowly– adults talk twice as fast (at least!) as children under 7 years of age think. We must show them that God has all the time in the world for them. He loves their slow, lengthy prayers… He is close; He is here in the everyday; He is listening; tell them stories of how He was with you when you were cooking and what your conversation with Him was like. When you pray with them you could be vulnerable and not give a word-perfect prayer- make mistakes: “Oops, sorry God- I was thinking of something else…” It’s OK to be slow & messy.

The jolly, happy, clappy God

This is a God who is always happy- never sad- and only wants you to be happy too. Kids will want to keep God happy and charm Him by performing for Him: “Look at me God! I know all the answers! I can do all things for you and be happy always, even when I hurt – because that’s what you want!” Everything is OK.

Where did they get this idea from? Well, we may have helped by clapping and praising their prayers or their thoughts rather than saying:” Wow, you really seem to have connected to God in your prayer…”

Children who have had tough lives can’t connect with this happy, clappy God. They need to know that God is walking with them through their PAIN and their SADNESS as well as their JOY- whether they can remember a bible verse or not. God is with the broken hearted. God helps us heal the pain at a rate that we can cope with. Children need to know that their prayers are beautiful to God because they connect to God- not because they are word perfect.

The angry God

This God not only hates sin but also anyone who is sinning. He hates anyone who isn’t doing anything to perfection! He is waiting for something bad to happen to me. Children will be scared of this God (who wouldn’t be!). Kiddies with this view of God don’t want to pray- they don’t want to be near when you pray. 

They don’t want anything to do with Him. It may be because of how we describe sin to them. Do we say that “…sin is like we are hurting God…” A child could be thinking, ”So, maybe He only forgives us resentfully because of Jesus….but, really, He wants to pour out a massive amount of anger on us.”

Instead, give your little ones another description of sin. Sin steals away our JOY and PEACE and our connection with God & others and makes us feel isolated. But God has sent us Jesus so that we can run to Him and drop our sin at His feet. God welcomes this! He welcomes each of us with our sins! And God always gives us a way out of temptation called GRACE- which we all need to hold onto when we are tempted to sin.

He is a God of Love and Grace. The God who forgives. That’s what He is about.

The mysterious God

This is the God we don’t understand- the one who may ask us to move to the other side of the world at a moment’s notice. Highly unpredictable. Some children have a highly unpredictable life as it is- they don’t need an unpredictable God.

This type of God is scary to children. What will happen next?

We may contribute to this image of God by saying things like: “Well we don’t know what God is doing!” We give God so much mystery that they don’t have any solid foundation of God.

We don’t explain Sunday mass! The incense; the Gospel; the offering; the wine and water mixing; the elevation of the bread and wine; transubstantiation where God remains invisible but is present. The miracle of Lanciano is a great way to show them what is really going on. 

In this still present miracle, God draws back the veil and shows us His Body & Blood here

Unless we explain what God is like through our lived-out experiences kids will think up their own God. We can’t fully explain God but we can answer questions as well as we can- piece by piece- till they put our small explanations together and understand the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever can be relied upon and does consider them top priority.

Instead, we could say that He is mysterious 

because His love is so large. It’s like a massive hammock that we can be rocked in forever.

Buddy Jesus

This God wants to do everything that I want Him to do. He thinks that I am perfect and wants to hang around with me all the time. But like an awkward friend that never goes away…children get bored of ‘Buddy

Jesus’. This attitude can also lead to a self-centred life! Life is sweet because it’s all about me and Jesus! Their connection with God, without even realising it, is actually centred around themselves. This has also been a part of my view of God…but I am not sure where or who I got this from!

We can contribute by surrounding them with the good images that God loves them and approves of them without explaining that life is actually all about the wonder and beauty and awesomeness of God- and not all about us!

Tell your children what He is doing in all parts of the world. How He is rescuing people and helping them beyond anything that they can imagine. Tell them God’s stories- especially how He has moved in your life.

It will broaden their view of Buddy Jesus- He is everyone’s Buddy! There are so many views of Jesus for all of us to appreciate. Together with our children we can grow in understanding His fullness.

What is your child’s Heart like?

Asking questions that don’t have the right answers will show you what your child’s heart is like.

How do you think God rested do on the 7th day?

What sort of kid do you think He was he at school? 

This post is a summary of what is covered in day 3 of the free video online course at ‘Parenting for Faith’