There is the story in Numbers 22 where Balaam heard God speak to him through a donkey. He actually heard a voice with his ears. He did not hear God with his heart, and he ended up causing a stumbling block to God’s people.
Most of us don’t hear God speak “out loud” to us, nor will our children. We must learn to hear God with our hearts, and we must train our kids to hear God with their hearts. How do we do that and what does it look like?
Now Balaam was not Dr. Doolittle, always talking to animals; yet in a way, he was a “do little” hearer. He heard God, knew it was God, but had his own agenda. He did not do what God said. When the Bible talks about hearing, it includes doing, that is, carrying out what God said. This is the kind of hearing God is after in us and in our children. This is the everyday, little by little, moment by moment obedience to God’s word that has a profound effect. When we know what God’s word says, let’s do it.
Two things are at the foundation for our children to hear God. First, we ourselves must lead the way and do what God says. For example, his word encourages us to pray. Do we pray? Do we pray with our children? Hear and do; simple. Not always easy to begin to do, but simple.
James encourages us to be doers of the word and not just hearers. Hear and do. Be kind to one another; husbands, love your wives. These are opportunities to be examples to our children of God’s ways. If we hear and do, their chances of hearing God increase.
Secondly, we must train our children to hear and do what we say. When they are young, we give them instructions and commands that we expect them to do. If we don’t follow through and insist on obedience, we communicate that obedience doesn’t matter. As they get older, that simple truth will transfer from ignoring us to ignoring God.
This is why the scripture says, “Children, obey your parents as unto the Lord.” Whether we train them to obey or disobey, it will affect their response to the Lord.
These are two vital keys to learning to hear God and do what he says.
If we don’t do what God says, yet we teach our kids to obey us, we are undermining their ability to hear God as they grow. They’ll probably be good citizens, good employees, good adults; but they will probably not be God-hearers. They will follow your example.
If we listen and obey God ourselves, but don’t train our children to obey us, they will not be obedient to God. They may be church-goers, religious, maybe even like Balaam, who heard God but did not do what God said.
Set the example of obeying God, and train your children to obey your words. This combination is simple . . . yet powerful. Example/training: every day.