I put my six-year-old son to bed the other night and reminded him to say his prayers. ten or fifteen minutes later he came down with a huge smile on his face, he wanted to call his mom and tell her something (his mother and I are not married anymore). It was too late so he went back to bed. First thing the next morning he came directly downstairs and called his mother to tell her about the feeling he had when he was praying. He explained to her, and later me, that he had this amazing feeling when he was praying and could not stop smiling about it. Watching this experience–like so many I have had as a parent– was like looking into a mirror reflecting myself at his age.
Of course this experience raises so many questions for me, and for perhaps should raise this questions for all Christians: How do we explain the witness of the Spirit to a child.
I actually do not have a good answer– a satisfactory explanation of spiritual experience like this is perhaps the biggest question I have in life. I know there are all kinds, including those that do not involve belief in God, but my son deserves one. And he deserves one in language he can understand. I reject many aspects of the explanation he is routinely given at LDS church, and I am not satisfied with what I did tell them. So I put it to anyone who reads this–how would you explain this experience to my son, if he was yours?