Call to Prayer: No junior Holy Spirit for children!
Posted on September 26, 2019 by Jon Trotter
By Priscilla GnanamanickamChildren don’t have a junior Holy Spirit.” This is what we were told by a missionary couple when we were young parents in India, as we were learning to listen to the voice of the Lord and follow him.
“Encourage your children to listen to the voice of the Lord speaking, like Samuel did.” They told us furthermore that children are like the canaries that miners used to take into the mines with them to warn them of toxic gases. They are more sensitive and easily affected by spiritual conditions, even though they may not be able to communicate or explain what they are picking up. These mentors admonished us to pay very close attention to children and their behavior.
So the practical way we go about it as a family is during our time together, talking and praying with our children about the needs of our family and of those around us. For example, we say, “Nanny is not feeling well. Listen to what Jesus wants for her.”
We encourage them to listen for a word, a picture Jesus might want to give them. Once they’ve heard or seen, then we ask them to pray or speak accordingly.
Jessica, Joshua, and Jonathan Gnanimanikham at the beach. Photo courtesy of Priscilla Gnanamanickam
Sometimes we come back from a place and one of the children might say, “It felt strange there,” or “So and so didn’t seem happy.” We then ask them to describe what they are sensing, or “smelling” and then ask them to listen to what Jesus is speaking and doing. Sometimes they have heard to bind the evil one and other times to pray what Jesus is praying over that person.
Most of this happens around our dinner table or while we’re driving together. One time we were getting ready to go on a road trip. My husband asked the kids to listen to the Lord as to which route to go. One of our children described what they were seeing. We knew it wasn’t the route we would have picked but chose to follow the Lord’s leading.
About 45 minutes into the drive, our van began overheating. We had to stop quickly. There were auto stores close by on this particular route and a safe place for the family to wait while my husband fixed the problem. When we got back in the van, we all could testify of the Lord’s goodness and provision.
As our kids have gotten older, they say sometimes, “Can we go and do something (instead of praying)?” We live in a culture that trains us to do and keep doing! But we try to remind the children that Jesus constantly went away to pray, to be with the Father and listen.
We also teach our children that we know in part and prophesy in part (1 Corinthians 13:9). When we don’t receive the answers we hope for, we encourage them to trust the One who is in complete control, as we “walk by faith and not by sight.”
One of the keys to listening is keeping our hearts clean. If one of them says, “I can’t hear anything today,” then we ask them if they are upset with someone. Anger, bitterness and unforgiveness hinders our communion with the Lord and hence our hearing ability.
This process of hearing the voice of the Lord together as a family unites us and helps us begin to be “the gathering”—the Ecclesia—in our home.
Priscilla Gnanamanickam is the wife of VMMissions Board member Johnnie Gnanamanickam. She and her family reside in Chesapeake, Va.