When I was little my parents would kneel before our bed each night and we would say our nighttime prayer.
"Angel of God my guardian dear to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this night be at my side to light, to guard, to rule to guide.
Then we would go through and names all the people in our family, our teachers and our friends.
Then when I met my husband, he shared the prayer his family said at bedtime, which was virtually the same, except after the list of people they wanted God to bless, they would end by saying:
"may God bless all my friends, relatives and enemies."
"Why do we pray for our enemies?", would be a typical question one of our 5 children would ask. In talking with a friend about this prayer, she suggested we drop off the enemies piece, as it wasn't fair to have children think about enemies before bedtime. We have found that this prayer opens our children up for sharing about their day, the interactions with children at school, on the playground or in their sports. Our older children will often relate this to what they have seen on the news or a historical topic in school, such as civil rights. I believe the bedtime routine is often the window into the child's soul. When they are cuddled up in bed, feeling safe, warm, we snuggle in close, and they have our undivided attention. They can share what is weighing on their hearts and we can listen. This is a gift for both child and parent.
Today our school published the Fall newsletter and shared this prayer. I was struck by how blessed my children are and yet, are reminded of all the children in our community and world who need our prayers.
A PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN
We pray for children who sneak ice cream before supper, who erase holes in homework assignments, who can never find their shoes.
And we pray for those who never get dessert, who have no safe blanket to drag behind them, who don’t have any rooms to clean up, whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser, whose monsters are real.
We pray for children who spend their allowance before Tuesday, who throw tantrums in the grocery store, who shove dirty clothes under the bed, who never rinse out the tub, who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool, and who squirm in church and scream in the phone.
And we pray for those whose nightmares come in the daytime, who have never seen a dentist, who aren’t spoiled by anybody, who go to be hungry, and cry themselves to sleep.
In your eyes, gracious God, all of us are children. Help us to grow
What is your nighttime ritual of prayer?