I am sure you know the desires of your child’s/grandchild’s heart! Can I share my experience from life in a way that might be helpful? Not all children have or are aware of the desires of their heart – I know I wasn’t, at least not as a young child. As I reached the grand age of 8 years old, I started to want what my friends had. I remember that one Summer a school friend was to holiday in Turkey and I wanted to go there too!
Perhaps they want to be a ballerina or an artist or a competitive swimmer or runner?
Well, first we could support them by saying that that seems like a good idea and shall we ask God what He thinks? Discernment is tricky for adults at the best of times but for children without much life experience, they will need a lot of support.
I think that it’s always best to take anything to prayer. The God of the Universe knows if this desire is good for your child. Perhaps, in prayer, your child will hear the Lord speak clearly- but also perhaps not! It’s hard for anyone who wants something so much to hear anything other than ‘Yes!’
As well as praying about it, your child would need to have some giftedness towards this desire. For example, is his/her desire to be a world class runner backed by actually being good at running? Even if it doesn’t seem to be clear it would seem good to allow your child to have a go at whatever he/she likes. I remember wanting to do ballet as a hobby, but I gave it up as I didn’t have much of an aptitude for it.
It’s a hard lesson to learn sometimes, but at least there are plenty of other activities to try. Eventually, I became interested in playing the guitar by the age of 10 and I did have an aptitude for it. My school teacher who taught me even suggested that I take up ‘classical guitar’. But it wasn’t a desire of my heart and I eventually gave up.
Fr. Chris O’Donnell, a Carmelite priest has said that God never says no! So, there are 3 answers that God might give any of us regarding a desire of the heart:
3. I have something better for you
This is good news for all …that if I don’t get this desire of my heart, it’s because God has something better for me! From experience, I think that God will show us in some way or another if this is a desire that He thinks is good for us….and even if it is good, it maybe that we have to wait for it for a considerable time!
I offer the following as a suggestion:
A child may pray for the desire of their heart every day, once a week…it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that we need to help them ‘surrender’ their desire to God…because we don’t know if this is something that God might want for your child.
Explain to your child that ‘to surrender’ means to say, ‘God this is something that I really care about and want but if you would rather give me something better then I will TRUST YOU because you only want to bless me with things that are spiritually good for me because YOU LOVE ME so much and want the best for me.
Can I suggest that when your child prays and listens to God – as a parent you should be listening to what God might have to say on the matter too. God may speak to you more clearly, and with this information you can better support your child. Putting our heart’s desire out there is an emotional thing – we all know this!
Don’t be surprised if God does speak to your child! God may give your child clear prophetic signs (a word from God; an image, a vision, a bible reading; a sense in their spirit) which says ‘YES’ God is definitely going to give this to you….and it will be confirmed by receiving this gift from God/ winning that competition or getting a place at the Royal Ballet School!
If your child receives his/her heart’s desire-remind them to thank God!
As with all of us- we are fallible and can perceive that an image in our mind’s eye or a ‘sense in our spirit’ is from God when we are desperate for something! We need to be ready to deal with that too!
You both feel over time that God wants you both to TRUST in His timing? This is hard, because we don’t know when this will actually come. This is where you have to exercise FAITH and perhaps prepare for this gift to come. For example, perhaps your child wants a baby brother or sister and you both feel that God is saying ‘wait’. Thank God that it is coming! Thanksgiving is important for us all to cultivate!
And what if God says, “ I have something better for you”. This is perhaps the hardest to hear. It will cause immediate pain for anyone to hear this….it may cause a sense of feeling unloved by God. For example, your child may have wanted to play Joseph in the nativity but was asked to play an angel instead. Again TRUST is called for….and it’s only with hindsight that we can know why God has decided this for your child.
Try to offer some examples from your own life where God gave you something better than you asked for. Even using the example of who you married would be good. You may have been engaged to someone else/ wanting to date someone and it just didn’t happen. God had a better person in mind for you…and when they came along you married them! Only God would have known who was spiritually better for you even though you couldn’t see it at the time. This is an amazing resource for all of us who are interceding for our heart’s desire..
I really hope this has been of help to you. When we can really TRUST God as children it will be easier to TRUST Him when we are grown up and the stakes are higher! Of course, for a child, the stakes will already feel high 😊.