Do you find time to say bedtime prayers with your kids? Or is it more a case of making them a snack, making them another snack and tucking them in (three times). Then when they come out to say they’re not sleepy, you offer to pray for them as a last-ditch attempt to get them to go to sleep? No judgment here, it can be hard to be intentional about parenting when it is non-stop for 18 years (and then some).
But parenting is a gift, and I think it helps sometimes to step back and look at the way that we do things. What if we are missing out by praying the same prayers over and over and by not being intentional about praying with our kids?
One of my favorite Bible verses is “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6 KJV) I love the interaction of the sacred with our day-to-day life with everything surrounding childbirth and raising a family. When pregnant, I loved praying for the child that I was carrying, asking that they would know God and find happiness in their lives. Parenting is such a privilege because we get to carry this little person’s laughter and sorrow, their rage and happiness, their hopes and fears. God places us by their side, to love them and give them comfort.
How do we train up our children in the way that they should go? How can we pray for them in a way that leads them into their destiny?
Crafted bedtime prayers
Graham Cooke talks about the concept of crafted prayer in his book Crafted Prayer (Brilliant Book House, 2003). You can find more information in the book but an overview of the process is to ask for revelation from the Lord, and then when you have received it, to craft a prayer based on His word. For each of my children (and myself), I have a file on my computer where I copy any words that I, my husband, or someone else has prayed over them. In this New Year, why not think about crafting prayers for your children? You could copy them out to make a bedtime prayer for kids that they can read over themselves when they are settling for the night.
Name meaning prayers
In a similar vein, the meanings of our children’s names can hold a lot of significance. While pregnant with my children, I ‘always prayed that God would give me the name for the child. Have you asked God for the spiritual significance of your child’s name? We can see in the Bible that God places a lot of spiritual significance on names. He renames people after a spiritually significant moment (eg Saul/Paul, Abraham/Abram, and Sarai/Sarah). We can pray the significance of our child’s names over them as they grow.
What’s in a name?
My eldest son is called Samuel Jonah. Jonah means dove but also symbolizes the wildness and rebellion of Jonah. So he is my wild dove. And he lives true to his name, having a peaceful disposition but also playing his heart out on the football pitch, which is his absolute passion. When I was still pregnant with Sam, my husband’s grandfather said he’ll be a footballer, pointing to my enormous bump. We didn’t even know if we were having a boy or a girl but it was true. His destiny was being foretold.
But God knew
We couldn’t settle on a name for our daughter until two weeks before the birth. My husband decided on Ivy and I knew I wanted June as a middle name. These names mean faithful warrior. We didn’t know why she should be called that, those were just the names we were drawn to. But then, as I have mentioned in other blogs, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and she has had to show strength and determination every day of her life. God gave her that name before we even realized the significance of it. But God knew. Because He knows the lives that our children are going to lead before we do. It speaks volumes to our kids to let them know that words have been spoken over them, that dreams have been dreamed for them.
You could think about adding the meaning of your children’s names into their bedtime prayers.
Lead by example
As Christian parents, our job is to nurture our children, but also to show them what a life of faith looks like. They will look to us to see how we react to situations. This is a challenge and an honor. When teaching your children to pray, talk with them about what you would do in that situation. Talk to them about how prayer has made a difference in your life.
Write it down
When my children tell me that they are bored or can’t sleep, I suggest they write down their prayers. I do this too. I think back on the day, thanking God for one thing and then writing down anything I am worrying about. The Bible says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6-7)
Bedtime Bible prayers
My children often ask for prayer for the same kinds of things. They might be worrying about something or can’t get to sleep. So why don’t we fight these worries head-on with God’s word? “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” (Eph. 6:14) Why not use these scriptures in your bedtime prayers with your kids?
Fight ‘I am scared’ with “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”(Psa. 23:4)
Fight ‘I am anxious/afraid’ with “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?” (Psa. 27:1)
Fight ‘I can’t get to sleep’ with “In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psa. 4:8)
Remember that God has everything we need for this life. Come to Him and show your children how to as well by building a habit of bedtime prayers for your kids.