Praying does not come naturally to me. I generally know what I want to pray for but when I try to put it into words it comes out clumsy, disorganized. And praying out loud, well it just gets worse when there’s an audience. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, “God knows what I mean, right?” On two different occasions in the past week, it has come to my attention that Episcopalian’s have a reputation for not praying without a book or verse to recite. Well, I must say that this works out to my advantage, and makes me feel a little less guilty about my awkward prayers.
I was discussing with my family my desire to include prayer at Hannah’s bedtime each day (one of my new year’s resolutions). My brother reminded me of the prayer our parents taught us as children. Of course! I’m guessing you’ve heard this little rhyme before…
Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
My memories were brought forth as I recalled reciting this before bed. At the end of the prayer we were guided to then say, “God bless, _____,” and the blank was filled in by all the people, places, and things we wanted to keep in our prayers. Of course, after family and friends were named, this ended up being an all-encompassing blessing on everything childhood. “…And Winnie the Pooh, and my pound puppies, and the stars, and the moon, and…” What a beautiful way to open a child’s mind to the concept that we can watch over others just through the power of the mind. So simple yet so profound.
Now, on to finding a prayer for saying Grace and one for myself before bed. For now, I’ll stick with my awkward but honest free verse style.
Do you have any prayers from childhood that you remember? Or other suggestions for a nighttime prayer for children?