Nurturing Faith: Knowing His Word or Knowing Him?

As we sat at the table, finishing our meal, talk turned to the sermon that day. We discussed the topic, the verse and the message. Even our 9-year-old had something to add. I loved listening to their voices discuss things I knew nothing of at their age. They compared and contrasted Scripture passages and shared their thoughts and ideas. As the meal ended and the cleaning began, I was lost in wondering about that chat. I found myself wrestling with a question that sits with me still today.

Knowing of or knowing him?

Do my children know the Creator as well as they know His word? Knowing God's word is important and I don't want to trivialize the significance of scripture. Yet we do need to recognize that we can have knowledge but miss out on relationship. James 2:17 says,"You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!" I want my children to have more than just knowledge—I want them invested in a relationship with God.

From the time they were born, my children sat in church. They are growing up in Sunday School classes and Bible studies and youth group events. They learn about God at school, home, and church and can answer questions quickly, giving chapter and verse. But do they know the one who created them with vision? Do they know the One who saved them from their sins? Do they know the one who sustains them day and night? Do they know God—or do they know only about him?

Moving from head to heart

Faith formation happens as the truths of scripture become anchored in our hearts and we invest in a relationship with God. As a momma who has sought to raise children in a loving, Christian home, I hope that my children know God well. I want to believe that they talk with him on their own, apart from times when we pray together. I want to say that they know the comfort that comes from a faith that will not fail. I want to believe that there is balance for them between what they know in their heads and what they believe and feel with their hearts. But how do we really know?

Ask about hearts

As parents we move our children from dependence on us to dependence on God. I was talking with a friend a long while ago, and she mentioned that though she was raised in a Christian home, no one ever asked her how her spiritual life was going. It made me wonder. Do I ask my kids? How tuned in am I to the condition of my children's hearts? Am I asking about what they are learning in their quiet time? How well is our family cultivating time for quiet reflection that takes the truth of scripture home to the heart.

Move from heart to hands

What would happen if we wondered about our children's faith the same way we wonder about their health? What growth could occur if we let our kids see and hear how important our faith is to us? Am I sharing my own spiritual growth? What would my children learn if we became intentional about enacting our faith? How could we approached faith formation in a variety of ways, at many times, using head and heart and hands?

Pass along what matters

I want my children to know about the greatest passion of my life. I want them to know what it is like to connect to the Creator of all. I want them to relax in His presence and seek His will. I want them to know that knowing about Him is not enough. Yes, that matters, but it’s not all there is. Our Heavenly Father longs to draw his children close.

There are things to think and things to feel and things to do and things to believe, and I get to help my children through the process of discovery. But first, I must know where they are. Maybe it’s time to ask.

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at

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