One of the greatest desires my wife and I have for our children is that they will learn that they can trust God in every area of their lives for their entire lives. This is not something we want to leave to someone else either. The truth is, it is something that their mother and I must strive to show them. As parents, we have the privilege, and responsibility, to show this truth to our girls. One of the most important things any parent can do, and should do, is help their children learn to trust God.
But how do we do this? I believe that there are a few things we can do to help them learn not only to trust in God, but also that God can be trusted.
1. Read the Bible together
The more we read the Bible together, the more we become familiar with the God of the Bible. We become more and more acquainted with His character. We see Him move and act. We see His covenant faithfulness throughout the Old and New Testaments. We see that when God makes a promise, He keeps that promise. We see that God is the unmovable, all-powerful force Who will get His way. We see that God loves us and desires His best for us, both for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29, Ephesians 1:1-14). Then we begin to realize, as we see His consistent faithfulness, that when He says things like, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5) and “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” and “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” He means it!!
Jerry Bridges says in his book Trusting God, “In the arena of adversity, the Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God—truths we must believe if we are to trust Him in adversity. They are:
God is completely sovereign.
God is infinite in wisdom.
God is perfect in love.
Someone has expressed these three truths as they relate to us in this way: God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.”
You see, as we read God’s Word together in our homes with our children, we see these three truths play out over and over again. Our children will see that God can be trusted when we feel lonely, when the circumstances of life seem overwhelming, when they are confused about relationships, and when life just doesn’t seem fair… God is always good and always in control.
2. Pray Together
As parents, we should pray for our children often. We should pray for their belief in God. We should pray for their decisions, their relationships, their minds and hearts, their friends, the list could get really long. But, we should also pray with our children. We should pray with them when they are scared, unsure, thankful… We should teach them to pray in every circumstance of life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), because God can be trusted in every circumstance of life.
As we pray with our children, we are teaching them that God can be trusted. We are also showing them that we trust God. We show them that we need God.
Some prayers we could pray together as a family are…
Prayers of Worship… (because He alone is God, He alone is sovereign, all wise, etc.)
Prayers of Thankfulness.. (for His blessings, for salvation)
Prayers for Our Own Obedience… (Lord, help me to obey, help in times of temptation)
Prayers of Confession (confessed sin, forgiveness)
Prayers for the Lost (friends, family, co-workers, etc)
Prayers of Supplication (praying for God’s provision for us and others)
This is certainly not a comprehensive list. But when we make a point to pray with our children, we are communicating, very loudly, that God can be trusted!! Our children need to know, not so much that there is power in prayer, but rather, there is power in the God to whom we pray!
3. Speak Often, Highly of God
It is no secret that we tend to talk most about the things we are passionate about. Sports teams (Duke Blue Devils, Carolina Panthers), hobbies (running, playing guitar), the current books we are reading, the people who are the dearest to us (spouse, children). The question is, do our children hear us speak regularly and highly of God? If they do, it communicates that we care about God, that we trust God and that God is a very important part of our lives. Our children will be more inclined to consider God if they know that their parents trust in Him.
Speaking highly and often of God is certainly what is taking place in Deuteronomy 6:5-7, which says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Notice the wording here… love God with all your heart, soul, and might… and, these words shall be on your heart. In other words, you are to be passionate about loving God! You should speak often of God and highly of God—when you are at home, when you are out and about, when you lay down at night and when you get up in the morning. That pretty much covers the entire day.
This certainly involves teaching the Scriptures to our children. But, it also involves talking to them about the God we are passionate about in all types of situations and circumstances throughout the day.
The way we do, or don’t, communicate to our children about God will certainly influence the way they view God! Are we giving God credit for His work in our lives? Are we showing and telling our children of the faithfulness and goodness of God? Are we teaching our children to see and hear God?
Before we move to #4, let me make one other observation. I believe it is also important to communicate to our children in those times that we, ourselves, are struggling to trust God. This is a great opportunity to stop and pray together for help from God!! I am so thankful for my wife, because she has shown me what this should look like! Honesty, transparency and vulnerability here are so important! If we don’t show our children that it is natural to struggle with trust, they will be susceptible to pile on the guilt and turn away from God when they are struggling themselves.
4. Let Them See You ‘Trusting God’
Finally, if we are going to teach our children to trust God, our children must see us trusting God. The old saying, “More is caught than is taught” is certainly true.
Ask yourself these questions… Do I trust God? What evidence is there to support my answer?
Our children have to see that God is important to us, that we truly believe that He alone is always perfectly trustworthy and faithful! They cannot just hear us say it! Do they see and/sense God’s peace in our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7) or do they know us to be riddled with worry and unrest? Do they witness us joyfully and liberally giving to God (to the church, to those in need) from our own resources, trusting in Him to provide what we need (Matthew 6:33), or do they see us holding tightly to what we have?
Simply put, the most effective way we can teach our children to trust in God is to whole-heartedly trust in Him ourselves.
So, we must ask ourselves, what exactly are we teaching our children when it comes to trusting God? Are we reading God’s Word together as a family and giving our children opportunity to know God? Are we praying to God, thereby showing our dependence on and thankfulness to Him? Are we consistently talking to our children about the goodness and faithfulness of God? And finally, do our children know/see that we, ourselves, trust God?