With one word I can answer this: experience!
They have not seen these three nor have they seen God. But they have seen results with these three and so believe, not because of the story and the belief of the parents (or fibbing) but because they see the presents, the money, the basket – experience!
Kids believe parents at their word, yet being intelligent enough even at three years old they have doubts, but when they wake up Christmas day and see presents under the tree and hear mom and dad say “wow look Santa came!” They may have been skeptical about the tooth fairy but when they wake up and see money and the tooth gone and mom reinforces the optional truth with “see I told you they would buy your tooth”. The kid is THEN convinced (or rather deceived!).
In my home, we do NOT believe in these three, but we do believe in God. And so I have begged and pleaded with God to give my kids experience with him so that they could believe in Him.
We read in the first chapter of Acts the phrase “by many infallible proofs”!
One day while in the sixth grade my son (Jason) needed money for a field trip. He was crying because we had literally zero money. I said son please share these things with me, it was late at night just before he was going to bed and the trip was in the morning. He was feeling emotion worrying about the next day and what would he tell his teacher. So together we sat in Gods presence, told him what is our trouble and asked for guidance, then waited and listened. I was told to tell my son in the morning he will have his money and that I was to go for a night walk where God would give me the five euro.
I wandered around town for a few hours around 1 am I ran into a guy I know who works at a nightclub. We chatted and he asked me what I was doing out so late. I told him my son needs five euro and I am looking for it. He immediately offered me five euro – in the moment I asked Father if I should accept and he said yes. Though I walked away wondering – was this God’s provision? I remembered to take every thought captive to the authority of Christ, so I asked: “Father is that really from you or because I shared?” He reminded me that he told me to share with him and that I did not ask men for money but he put it on the man’s heart to give. I accepted this answer yet honestly not fully satisfied.
When I got home I was eager to see his joy when he would see the five euro (like waking up and the tooth is gone and now there is money). He was not excited – he was sad. I asked why and he said that he needed seven euro, not just five. I did not know this, he had told me about the five but not the two. So I said, “If God provided the five he will provide the other two, perhaps you will see it on the ground, or in the bus, or at the restaurant!”
At this time he would walk alone to school. But as a word of wisdom, I was to walk with him today. As we walked and approached the road for his school and should turn I saw a vision to go a block further and to walk around and circle back to the school. As I obeyed this my son said: “dad you’re going the wrong way.” I said I know but God has shown me to take us this way.
As we walked I noticed in the gutter a two euro coin and said to my son gently and calmly “look”. His eyes lit up as I expected them to earlier that morning and as he bent down he found what I had not seen another one euro coin. He was so shocked, so surprised, so full of joy and amazement. He told me right away how he would tell his friends.
I too was amazed and NOW fully satisfied that even the earlier five euro was from Him.
“Faith come from hearing, and hearing the voice of God.” Thus I pray often that my kids will experience him so that they might believe he exists and that they might slowly learn how they can trust him with all.
We have many other such experiences I could share. Most the time it is like this one at what seems to us the very last possible moment, not unlike when God parted the Red Sea.
may you be inspired and go and do likewise.
UPDATE April 4, 2017
We may think we are robbing our kids of fantasy and fun by not doing these games. But what we end up doing is robbing them of trust. I have interviewed many people – and between the ages of 8-14 one day they realized this was a lie and they all tell me they thought “Can I really trust my parents?”. This makes them then think “Is God made up too?”. So to counter this I ask for experience for my kids that God is real.
When my one son (Jojo) was four for Christmas he wanted a remote control car. I had not money to buy this – I asked him to ask God for one. So we prayed together for one. A week later the Red Cross invited him to a Christmas party. They gave him a gift, he opened it. And it was a remote control car.
My son when he was five wanted a tablet. Something I could not afford. I told him he could ask God. 14 months later when he opened a box from Grandma that had a tablet in it his response was “My tablet”. He knew God would answer one day and the day he got it he was not surprised God answered he was just joyful that this was the day. (I have his response on video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnen8djRPmQ&feature=youtu.be )
Recently I was walking with my soon to be 14yr old son (Jason). He told me his friends ask him “How do you know God is real” please know we are in Greece where all kids are Orthodox Christians all have been baptized Christian, most of them go to church at Easter and Christmas. They see my son’s faith, they see his courage, they see he is not afraid of men’s opinions – such as when a classmate is being a bully he is not mindful of others wrongly calling him a snitch (He does not tattle tale he asks for help). So I got to share with him how to answer that question. I told him he can tell them of his experiences of God (such as the money for the field trip), he can tell them that this is why he cannot be easily intimidated or manipulated due to spending time with God each day (Jason’s own Character is proof of God – it is proof he has been with God). That he can just lay his hand on their shoulder and say “God please show my friend you are real. and I thank you that you will”