Bed Time Ritual
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. ~Psalm 63:6 (NIV)
We pray with our kids at night.
We say the same prayer with each child.
Jesus be with me,
all through the night.
Bless me and keep me
’til morning light.
Nothing fancy. Just a habit.
Here’s what I know about habits, they are sometimes hard to start- to get into the habit. But once habits are formed, they become ingrained into the rhythm of our days. We no longer work at them (unless it is exercise… or is that just me?).
I’ve been praying this little prayer every night since I can remember. As a child. I tagged my own prayers at the end of this prayer. Sometimes saying the same blessings every night. Sometimes voicing new concerns. Sometimes sharing praise. But this little prayer was my starting point.
And now it’s my kids’ starting point.
I say the prayer with my one-year-old. In the last few weeks, I started to leave words out. To see if he knows what is missing. And of course, having heard it every night, he does! And he says “me!” very clearly. And “let” for light… so it’s adorable.
My daughter, says the same prayer every night. She is four. She says our little starting prayer, and then adds “thank you for my family and uncles*.” The same thing every night, but her own personalized version. From her heart. I sure didn’t tell her to thank God for uncles every night of her life.
My six-year-old, he has an entire list of additions to his little prayer, and now even a second prayer.
What’s a second prayer? Well, after the kids pray, I pray. I pray for them. I add to their prayers. And I am aware that I am praying for them, talking to my heavenly father. But I am equally aware that I am setting an example. That they are listening, and learning (as proven by my one-year-old’s ability to fill in the blanks). So my older son says his little starting prayer, and the thank-you-for-this-and-that he’s been saying for years. But one night, more recently, when I finished my prayer for him, he stopped me. He had a “second prayer.” And he said it. A new depth of prayers, touching on his fears, and his needs. And somehow they became habit. So now I know to wait (or, believe me, I am called to task!) until his second prayers are over before tucking him in and turning out the light.
A new depth of prayers. A new insight into that little mind. That tiny precious heart.
Prayer. A gift to God, for God’s glory, and still, somehow, even more a gift for us.
May you be blessed to experience prayer with children. May your prayers become so habitual that you hardly even notice you are praying throughout the day. That every breath would become a prayer, and that your heart and ears would be open to hear God’s response. In Jesus name, Amen!
*Oh to be loved for the amount of sugar you sneak children when their mothers aren’t looking. What a joy!