By: Catherine Ryan   |   Posted: November 11, 2022

Childlike Faith in Scripture: Be Inspired

Written by Catherine Ryan
Photography by Jehojakim Sangare and Piyamary Shinoda
a girl holds her Bible

Compassion’s Prayer Partner Network followed the theme “Faith Like a Child” this year. Over the past several months, our Prayer Partners like you have read prayers and stories of children in the United States and in developing countries who have shown that nothing is impossible with God.

Maya in Bolivia prayed for three years that God would heal her dad, who was sick. Even though he passed away, Maya’s faith remains strong. And there was Jhoel in Peru who developed a relationship with Jesus through his Compassion center. Now he shares his faith every chance he gets. And there was 7-year-old Evie in Columbia, S.C., who reminded us that it’s “important to pray because, if you didn’t pray, you would lose hope.”

But we can’t let this year of reflecting on faith like a child pass by without sharing some of the most iconic stories from Scripture that are such powerful examples of faith. You’ll probably already know most of them, but I encourage you to try to approach them differently. See them through the eyes of a child – with openness, wonder and trust. Perhaps with a new perspective, we’ll find in these children encouragement and inspiration to leave behind any jadedness or cynicism that the injustice of the world has instilled in us. Perhaps through them we might even be able to take a step back in faith, just a little closer to our youth.

Let’s try, at least. Shall we?

For me, when I think of a child with faith, the first story that comes to mind is David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17.

The Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him …

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

(1 Samuel 17:41-42, 45-46, 48-50, NIV)

One thing that strikes me about this story is that David wasn’t even part of the army. He was just there to deliver food to his brothers, who were part of the Israelite army. Some scholars believe he was between 10 and 15 years old at the time. Then, there was David’s reasoning for why he should fight Goliath: he was experienced in keeping his father’s sheep. David had experience protecting the flock from lions and bears, so how much harder could it be to take on a champion warrior like Goliath?

I imagine that, to a child, it made perfect sense.

Of course, David wasn’t the only child in the Bible to show incredible faith. It’s believed that Esther was only 14 years old when she found favor with Xerxes and became queen. Can you imagine how intimidating that must have been for a young girl? But Esther stayed strong in her faith and used her position later on to stand up to her husband, King Xerxes, and save her people from persecution.

We read in Esther 5:1-3, NIV …

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

And we can’t forget about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but in my head I imagine Mary as being a mature, full-grown woman. Yet, most historians believe Mary was most likely between 12 and 14 years old when Jesus was born. She was just a child – a child with incredible faith in God’s plan for her life.

We read in Luke 1:30-33, 38 …

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

a boy holds his Bible

These stories inspire me to think of children differently. Maybe they do for you too. The stories of David, Esther and Mary shed new light on the verse from 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV): “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Yes, children are vulnerable. They are precious. They need our help and protection. But children are also incredibly strong and resilient. They are smart and resourceful. They have the potential to do great things – not later in life as adults, but even now at a young age. And they often don’t get enough credit for it.

Children with their childlike faith can change the world.

Let’s let them, shall we?

Find out more about becoming a Prayer Partner and download this month’s prayer calendar.