Every Christian parent has a deep desire to see each of their children become believers in Jesus Christ, but it is incorrect to think that it happens only by means of a timely gospel presentation. We must remain wary of such dangerous thinking because children, without understanding or even truly desiring salvation, can easily be led to say a prayer if encouraged to by an adult. Instead, parents should seek to know when the child understands and is ready for a true, repentant heart decision. In guiding children toward belief in Christ, parents need to consistently and lovingly cultivate their children’s desire through the spiritual nurturing process.
The first place to start is with prayer. Pray daily that God would prepare the heart of your child for salvation and that he will guide you, as a believing parent, to spiritually nurture your child. Secondly, remember that the child learns much from their parents’ example of devotion to God. This truth is foundational and very critical in creating a desire in the child’s own heart. Thirdly, teach your children the nature of man’s fallen state and separation from God. They need to learn of God’s character and how Jesus paid the debt of sin, making it possible for each person to be restored to fellowship with God. Fourthly, expose them to God’s truth by taking them to church and Bible study. Respond to the teachable moments generated from exposure to God’s Word.
Often children who are spiritually nurtured will often make a solid decision to receive Christ as Savior by the time they are five or six years old. Don’t push them, however; let their understanding lead you, trusting that God will show you when they’re ready. For example, at the age of five, one of my sons was riding with us in the car after we had visited his grandfather, who had just undergone bypass heart surgery. On the way home he began to sing a made-up song, “I want to be with Jesus whenever I die.” I looked over at my wife and asked, “Are you listening to what our son is singing?” He continued, “I want to become a Christian but I don’t know how. I know I’m a sinner and Jesus died for me.” As he went on, it seemed clear that he understood all the ingredients the Bible requires for one to be saved. When we got home we sat down in the living room, asked a series of questions to make sure, and then we guided him to become a child of God. Each of our children had their own story, and each one received the Lord as their savior around age five or six. They began showing fruit of salvation and we began the process of discipling them.
From the web site: www.making-disciples.com, published in Changing the Landscape of Eternity, by John Thompson, Chapter 13, p. 179-180