One might wonder why we would talk about Babies and toddlers in relationship to teaching children to walk in the supernatural power of God. After all, what can you teach babies about anything, much less spiritual issues?
How much can they learn? What spiritual capacity do they have? Does the Bible have anything to say about the spiritual lives babies?
The truth is the spiritual nurture and development of infants begins in the womb, and even before. Even in the Bible there were unborn children and small babies who had significant spiritual encounters and experiences with God.
But because they can’t communicate with us, we don’t know what they are experiencing, if anything. So, we assume nothing is happening in that arena of their lives.
As both parents and children’s ministers, we must look at the issue of babies and toddlers and ask what do we do with them in the present-day church culture? In our churches, our standard operating procedure is purely to set up diaper changing stations and babysitting systems we call nurseries.
The baby nursery is usually the last place any spiritual nurture takes places. It’s the last place anyone wants to work in the church, so we get older children and teens to watch them, which then takes them out of any spiritual atmosphere and gives them a good excuse not to have to sit in “big” church.
It robs everyone of spiritual nurture in the very environment that is supposed to be the place we get it.
We need to begin to view our babies from a spiritual perspective, and recognize the responsibility we have for the spiritual development of our children from the womb.
A friend of mine, Dr. Melodye Hilton, planted a church over 30 years ago with her husband. As she was setting up a typical nursery, the Holy Spirit spoke to her and said, “You are not to babysit in your nursery, or have any toys. But you are to teach them the uncompromising Word of God.”
She was quite startled!
She thought the same way you and I do: Are you kidding? She told the Lord, “You are going to have to give me ‘chapter and verse’ for that!”
He immediately gave her 2 Timothy 3:15, “from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
She began to see that our newborns, older babies, and toddlers should not be spiritually neglected by entertainment, babysitting, or a lack of knowledge.
Instead, as she studied the development of infants, she saw how this is the ideal time for them to receive healing, identity in Christ, and receive life-empowering ministry.
Infant ministry has been almost non-existent in the church. Few realize there is value and a necessity for true infant ministry from conception to age 3, which are the foundational years.
What takes place in the first 3 years of a child’s life can change the course of their lives, spirit, soul, and body. Real Scriptural training and ministry is relegated to a later time when children reach an age where they can talk.
However, there is a need to minister to the deep need inside children to know who they are in Christ. And that they have been planned and purposed for such a time as this.
In fact, Psalms 139:16 tells us He planned for our existence long before we were ever born! He says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. God is a writer. He has a book, and He talks about babies in it before they are even conceived.
This is just one of the scriptures that tells us clearly God has a plan for our lives!!
At what age does a child truly begin to learn? Studies have shown the human brain is never more receptive than the first five years of life. A child’s neurons (the circuits they use to think and learn) grow at lightning speed. In just the first six months of life, the human brain has already grown to half of its adult life.
Their brains are growing rapidly, with twice as many synapses as adults have. A baby forms 700 NEW NEURAL connections every second in the first 1,000 days of life.
A baby’s brain is a developing organ. It is not a mini-version of an adult brain. The fastest rate of brain development across the entire human life span happens from birth to three years of age.
So it makes sense that this should be the time to pour into children in the natural and in the Spirit!
For instance, trust is established in the first three years, along with identity, the ability to establish boundaries, and handle stress.
Science shows us for a baby’s brain needs to wire up well it needs people time—one-on-one, predictable, responsive care. They need someone to talk, sing, read, play, and cuddle them. TV does not replace human interaction.
The foundation for a rich emotional life is laid early in a baby’s life, as well as a spiritual foundation.
When we wait until children are older to minister to them about their identity as children of God and their destinies and purposed in His Kingdom
We are missing out on a huge window of opportunity to help shape and mold them into who God has called them to be.
It is possible, according to Dr. Hilton, to impart into babies from birth preparing them to fulfill their destinies.
For this reason, Dr. Hilton developed a unique baby curriculum called “Who’s Teaching the Babies?” which we will look at later at the end of this session.
The Bible has a lot to say about babies! The are several scriptures that remind us of what God thinks of babies even from the womb.
Psalms 139:13-15NIV— 3 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. (NOTE: God watches every embryo and fetus being formed and being developed. He pays attention to every child in the womb with special interest!)
Jeremiah 1:5 — Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (God has a plan for our lives! He has ordained every child for a purpose!)
Isaiah 49:1 — The Lord has called Me from the womb; from the matrix of my mother He has made mention of me. (Again, it says God called you and your children for His purposes while you/they were still in the womb.)
God was talking about you and you children before they were born. You/every child was on His mind pre-birth! Babies are valuable enough for Him to talk about before they ever take their first breath.
The Bible is quite full of stories about little babies.
Moses’ birth was significant and the events surrounding his infancy up to his preschool years is quite supernatural how he was protected from genocide when all the other little baby boys his age were annihilated, then he got set in the home of Pharaoh—the leader of the land to receive the best of everything. God was preserving him for His own purposes, and it started at his birth.
Then we know the story well about Isaac, the miracle baby and the promised son of Abraham and Sarah for who waited 25 years for him. Isaac, we know as a prototype or a type and shadow of the very son of God, Jesus.
There was Jacob and Esau, twin boys who actually fought in their mother’s womb for the spiritual birthright that was so significant for generations to come. (This was a prophetic act in the womb!)
Then there was the prophet Samuel. Again, born to a mother who could not give birth for many years. This is a son she literally prayed into existence. She literally prayed in her son’s plan, calling, and destiny before her was ever conceived.
Samuel then became the greatest prophet Israel ever had. He was the prophet at the time of King David. He was able to stand before the children of Israel as an old man as say “You have all watched me from the time I was a little boy, and you know I have lived right before God my whole life.”
There was the Shunnamite woman who could not bear children, and the prophet Elijah prayed and asked God to give her a son, and He did.
Samson’s parents couldn’t have children. One day an angel appeared to them telling them they were going to have a son who would deliver his people form their enemies.
He proceeded to tell them how to raise their child by not cutting his hair, drinking alcohol, and eating “Kosher” (strict dietary laws of the Jewish people) because he was set apart for the purposes of God before he was even conceived.
John the Baptist was a fascinating baby. He father was a priest in the temple. His parents were quite old and long past their years of being able to have children, yet an angel appeared to the father and told him a son was on the way. The angel even named the baby.
Soon after his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. The angel told Zechariah that John was going to be great in the sight of the Lord. He was going to come in the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah! The Bible says that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb! Talk about a spiritual experience!
Her cousin, Mary, who by then was pregnant with the baby Jesus came to visit her cousin.
As she approached and greeted Elizabeth, John, leaped in his mother’s womb at the sound of her voice! This unborn baby was obviously very sensitive to the Spirit of God!
Then there was the birth of Jesus himself. Being born as a human baby was the legal entry Jesus needed to come into the world as our savior. God used a helpless baby. He was born with a plan and destiny built into him.
It’s interesting to note how the devil tried to wipe out entire generations of babies in order to thwart the plan of God.
There was Moses’ infancy because the Pharaoh was afraid there were too many Israelite men. He was afraid they would revolt and take over his kingdom.
There was Jesus when Herod found out the King of the Jews had been born.
What can a fetus can experience in the womb?
There were some well-known science experiments that took place a number of years ago where the scientists wanted to find out how aware babies in the womb were of their environments.
They took a pregnant mother and hooked her stomach up to meters then had men who were strangers to the mother walk in the room one at a time and talk to the mother. The scientists would monitor the heart beat and other responses of the fetus as reactions to the men.
Then finally they would send the father of the baby into the room to talk to the mother. The monitor reactions of the babies were significant.
Just last year Medicine & Health came out with a study that said, “Psychologists say babies know right from wrong even at 6 months.” (PhysOrg.com)
Their research showed that contrary to the popular belief that babies were born with a “moral blank slate” this study showed they instinctively knew right from wrong in given situations.
They said, “There is mounting scientific evidence that “some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone.” There’s a video on YouTube about this. Of course, this would concur with the biblical doctrine that man is born in sin and needs a savior.
I have spoken with parents of very spiritually gifted and prophetic children, amazing numbers of these parents say they prayed over the baby, sang to it, played worship music to the womb, and read the Bible to the unborn babies frequently.
I met one woman who claims her child was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb and was practically born prophesying. That child was in my children’s ministry and she was truly an unusually spiritual child. Who’s to say? John the Baptist was…if not filled in our current way of thinking, a child can certainly be impacted by a touch from God.
Many of these parents had other children prior to getting saved and did not do these same things. The differences between them were night and day.
One pastor and wife did these things with first child, but not the two boys that followed. The girl is in ministry; the boys are not even serving God. Extreme—but it shows the point.
So, if this is the case, and if babies begin to learn about the world around them from the minute they are born…If fetuses like John the Baptist can be filled with the spirit while still in the womb, If a Jacob and Esau can fight for supremacy in the womb, If parents can impact their unborn infants by praying over them, prophesying over them, speaking the word over them etc., If children can have significant emotional impact both positive and negative while still in the womb, doesn’t it stand to reason that we as parents and children’s ministers can continue to minister to their little spirits in our church nurseries and in our arms?
We cannot –we dare not — ignore the spiritual development and nurture of the babies in our homes and churches and wait until they get older to begin developing their spirits.
Your thoughts? Please comment and share.
Also, note, I have a full teaching on this called Babies & God if you are interested: https://buff.ly/2zaBUKs