And he [Jesus] said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 18:3
When it comes to faith, adults learn how to doubt. It just happens along the way. We’re skeptical. We’re jaded. We try to intellectualize everything. We’re not sure God hears our prayers, or that even if He hears, He might have more important things to do than answer us. We complicate faith.
But what about kids and faith? Children are amazing! Without difficulty, they believe God is sovereign. They believe that God is all-powerful, all knowing, that He’s everywhere. They have no doubts that God can reside in their lives. They believe God hears their prayers and will answer them. They have no doubts.
Years ago, we had a bit of a cat fiasco in our home. I’m not a huge animal lover, and my kids brought home a cat. This did not make me happy. My family took the cat to the vet to get fixed. When they returned later to pick it up, the cat was so spooked that it ran away.
Cathy called me at the office to tell me what happened. I felt bad for my kids, but I was happy. I thought to myself, “God does answer prayers!” Then I had to go home and empathize with my children and pretend that I cared.
At this point, my oldest daughter – then seven-years-old – decided to start a prayer marathon. She said, “Dad, I’m going to pray for the cat every day.” I tried to encourage her and said, “Great. We do the possible with faith that God will do the impossible. Let’s put up signs and go knock on doors.” But she just wanted to pray.
Two months later, we received a phone call from the vet. The cat had come back. I faced a major dilemma right there and then. Should I tell my family or not? This wasn’t an easy decision for me. I wrestled with what to do, but in the end decided to tell my family and use the occasion as an opportunity. I asked my daughter, “Have you been praying for the cat every day?” “Yes, Dad. I’ve been praying for the cat.” I said, “Well, I’ve got good news for you. The cat came back.” Then she said, “I knew it would. I had no doubts that God would answer my prayer!”
Right there, in front of me, I saw my daughter demonstrating faith, both pure and strong! That day still sticks with me as a huge reminder of what Jesus was saying when He told His audience about the importance of childlike faith.
Yes, in the adult world, life is complex, and we strive to become mature in our thinking, our attitudes, our relationships, and our behaviors. But in the arena of faith, as counterintuitive as it might seem, Jesus points to children as the model for mature faith. Children believe. Children trust.
Today, if you find yourself struggling with doubts, skepticism, and cynicism about God’s place in your life, it’s time for a change. It’s time to recapture the childlike wonder of faith and trust. And as Jesus reminds us, it’s the mature thing to do.
1. What do you feel are the biggest obstacles that prevent you from responding to God in childlike faith?
2. What changes in attitudes or actions must you take to remove these obstacles?
Hebrews 11:1; 2 Corinthians 5:7; John 20:27-29