When catch is hard
Because none of us are exactly the same, our ways of connecting with God will be different. It may take time for each of us to discover how it works for us. However, if ‘everyone else’ is catching, it is hard not to feel disappointed and believe that it will never work for you, or that God just doesn’t want to talk to you.
Rachel Turner answered a question from a listener in an episode of the Parenting for Faith podcast whose child insists that they can't chat and catch with God, which you can listen to below.
Here are some more ideas for helping children and young people who struggle with chat and catch:
Connecting with God is an individual journey, not something to succeed or fail at.
If someone has tried chat and catch and found it difficult they may be reluctant to continue. It may be helpful for you to share your experiences of prayer, successful and unsuccessful. When do you hear God? What does it feel like? When did you hear God wrong, or find it difficult to pray? Reassure them that just like it might take a while to discover the best way to walk through the woods, it might take time to discover the best ways for them and God to connect. So encourage them to try different ways of connecting, and maybe different environments too. The approach of ‘The Teenage Prayer Experiment’ might be helpful as well as providing lots of different ways to try connecting with God.
People sometimes describe a blockage that’s stopping them connecting.
In the FAQs in Parenting Children for a Life of Faith Omnibus there are some suggestions for helping children who feel there is something blocking their communication with God. For example, you could encourage the child to describe or draw the blockage, and then ask God to remove it (pop the bubble, knock down the wall etc). Others may find it helpful to chat to God about the blockage.
Keep reminding them of the many ways we can catch.
Because we so often use the word ‘hear’ to describe catching from God, we can miss other ways God may be speaking to us because we are so fixated on the idea of audibly hearing God. Modelling and framing how you catch from God, or hearing other people’s stories of how they hear, can be helpful.
See if anything needs unwinding
Some children may have a view of God which discourages them from chatting freely to God or suggests to them that God won’t be interested enough to reply. You may want to revisit session 3 of the course, and begin to proactively to unwind any wrong views your child has. They may also have a view of prayer which needs to be unpacked – for example, if God knows everything before I say it, why do I need to tell him? There’s an article here that may help.
There may be things in their environment which are making it harder to catch.
Many people find fidget toys a useful way to self-regulate or improve their concentration; others may find a special place helps them to settle; others may find that background noise or ear defenders lessen distractions and free their minds and bodies to be able to catch. Older children and teens may simply be very busy and may no longer have a bedtime routine or just be always occupied with activities and social media. They may find having a prayer space in their room helps them, for example, or deliberately building in time to put aside for chatting and catching, maybe alongside their family or alone.