“When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, ‘O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!’ You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. -Psalm 4:4-8
As I have mentioned from the pulpit recently, I have been reminded of easily forgotten practices that we learned as children that are worth passing on to the next generation. One of these is bedtime prayer. Teaching children to pray each night as they go to bed serves a multiple of purposes that will serve them well as adults:
1. They learn how to calm down their bodies and minds after a busy day and be silent so they can fall asleep. As they grow older this skill will help them calm their minds when they are overwhelmed with thoughts of the day–and things to do the next day.
2. In developing the practice to pray each night before bedtime, they will hard wire into their minds the importance of sleep and rest to health. As they grow older, they will need this practice to maintain a sound mind and body so that they can be successful in life.
3. Learning to pray at bedtime will teach them the value of forming a lifelong habit of turning to God in prayer. As they grow older, they will discover how helpful this becomes amidst troubling or confusing times in their lives when they need God’s guidance. OR when they are sorrowful and need hope. Having learned the importance of prayer early in life, they will be more resilient in the face of failure, and more equipped to learn and grow in faith.
4. Learning to pray at bedtime will teach them that God is always ready to hear from them–and wants to know about their day. And God’s love for them is unconditional. God will always be there for them–even when family members cannot. As they grow older, they will need to remember God’s this when they inevitably sin and fail. They will need to recall that God forever sees them as His wonderful and gifted children–at whatever their age. They will learn that God does not expect them to fix the world or save it. Only God can do that. God only requires that they be faithful and continue to pray.
5. Finally, they will realize that whatever comes their way in life, they will never be alone. God will always be with them. Moreover, as they gather with the people of God in worship to pray, they will find a fellowship and hope that will buy them up and sustain them.
Learning to pray is a lifelong journey. The earlier we learn to pray, the better. But at whatever age we learn to pray, we open up a wonderful journey to live life to the fullest as children of God.
I welcome any of you who would like to share your remembrances about learning to pray as a child with me via email at email@example.com. If you choose not to share it with me, I encourage you to share your remembrance with someone else. Sharing this experience with another will help keep your relationship with Christ alive.
Blessings, Your Pastor, John