“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
When in the morning light I wake
Help me the path of love to take.”
This was the prayer I grew up saying with my parents. Thank goodness they didn't choose the "If I should die before I wake" version. I always thought that was cruel and unusual. Anyway, I loved this simple little prayer and still, when I think of it, it brings a smile to my face.
For some reason, we didn’t get into the habit of a rote prayer with our kids—they kind of fell into it themselves when they were young. Kate would always pray, “ . . . and please help there not to be a fire or a tornado.” (Those must have been her greatest fears.) To which my husband would reply, “What about a flood?” And the two would laugh and laugh, and Kate would say, “Keep saying that!”
It became a regular part of our days when our girls were young, praying together. Dinnertimes, bedtimes, sometimes even huddled by the door before sending them off to school.
And then there were times of distress. Times when the girls were really sad or struggling or really worried about something. For some reason these feelings usually came out in the car on the way to school, so I would spend the few blocks as we drove together just praying for them.
As our girls got older, somewhere around sixth grade, they were old enough and able to put themselves to bed. And somehow praying together became less and less frequent. One day, though, as one of my girls was struggling her way through middle school, she said to me, “Mom, why don’t you put me to bed anymore?” I took this as a very big “Hello?! I need you!” from my girl, so I asked, “Would you like me to put you to bed?” She nodded, yes.
We spent much of that year cuddling before bed, talking, and praying together. I wondered why I had let this area of my parenting fall by the wayside when my girl obviously still needed that from me. We continued on with a bedtime routine—not every night, but lots of nights—until she was in high school and didn’t need that anymore.
I think praying with our kids has a two-fold purpose.
First, it shows our kids that their needs are legitimate and important to us. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the “important” stuff of life—jobs, finances, our homes—that we forget that our kids have worries too. Let them know that their concerns are your concerns.
Second, it teaches our kids that prayer is not just a once-a-day event that happens before dinner or before bed. We can, and we should, be talking to God all throughout the day. He cares about our needs, and He wants us to come to Him with those needs . . . any time of day.
Today, one of my girls needs prayer. Caroline is having her wisdom teeth removed, and I’m sure she would appreciate any prayers you might be willing to send her way. And me? I’m not so good with medical “issues” so if you’d say a prayer for me, that would be great too.
Tell us . . . how have you incorporated prayer into your kids’ lives?
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