The Mouths of Babes

King David wrote, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength” (Psalm 8:2). And when children cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David” in the temple during the last week of Jesus’ life, He reminded the displeased Pharisees of that scripture: “Have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matthew 21:16).

Jesus taught his disciples to treat children with respect and to emulate them. (See Matthew 18:1-6.) And when seventy of his disciples experienced great miracles, He referred to them as children:

I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

Luke 10:21

When He visited the American continent, He commanded the people, “Behold your little ones,” just before angels descended to minister to their children (3 Nephi 17:23). A few days later, “He did teach and minister unto the children…and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter” (3 Nephi 26:14).

What makes children particularly receptive to spiritual experiences?

  1. Perhaps they haven’t had time to build walls around their hearts. These barriers can protect us from pain, but they can also prevent us from opening our hearts to God. In the words of William Wordsworth: “Heaven lies about us in our infancy! Shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing Boy, But he beholds the light, and whence it flows, He sees it in his joy” (“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” (1804).
  2. Perhaps they are more humble because they are more vulnerable. That may be one reason Jesus instructed His disciples, “Carry neither purse, nor scrip” (Luke 10:4). Their reliance on the kindness of others for basic necessities would remind them of their dependence on God.
  3. Children have a natural curiosity. They ask questions all the time, eager to understand not only what is happening but why. As we get older, we may lose some of that inquisitiveness, either because the people around us discourage us from asking or because we become complacent and think we know more than we do. Nephi reminded us that we learn “line upon line, precept upon precept,” and he shared the following promise from the Lord: “Unto him that receiveth I will give more” (2 Nephi 28:30). So we need to keep asking questions and looking for answers.

Yesterday evening, two young missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited our home and taught the gospel to a new friend of ours. They told him about a fourteen-year-old boy who saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in answer to a prayer. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:14-17.) Why would the Lord call upon young people in their late teens or early twenties to preach the gospel to people many years older than them? Perhaps the answer lies in the teachings of Jesus Christ quoted above. God reveals things to people who are young in years or young in spirit.

Today, I will approach spiritual learning with the trust, humility, and enthusiasm of a child. I will set aside self-consciousness, acknowledge my deficiencies, and kindle my curiosity.

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