I’ve been digging through the annals of my own mind for thoughts about prayer, and I thought today I would write about the nighttime life of prayer in our home. I don’t know if this will be of interest to you; it’s nothing spectacular, but maybe a few of you will find it helpful.
I’ve already talked earlier here about how Diane and I pray every day before we go to sleep. We also usually pray with each of the kids before they turn in.
Our oldest Josh turns 17 this week, and we’ve already moved into that state where he is sometimes up later than us. Still feels weird. So, the end result is that sometimes he “puts us to bed,” so to speak. Elisabeth turns 15 in April, and she occasionally does this also. Anyway, Josh and I have been doing a devotional together for the last half a year or so from R.C. Sproul’s Tabletalk magazine. This is usually just on weekdays, but after we read and look up the verses, we pray together.
I also pray with Elisabeth and Annie when I say goodnight to them, and Diane has her own goodnight time with each of the kids, and also prays with them.
Our nighttime prayer with the kids is brief. Sometimes I invite them to pray; sometimes I just pray. I have verses for each of the kids that I am claiming for their lives, and occasionally I will mention these verses to the Lord as I pray. The nighttime prayer also turns out to be a good time to bring to the Lord whatever is on their hearts.
I’ve thought lately that I have fallen into prayer clichés at nighttime, often mindlessly asking the Lord for a “good night’s rest”. I think it’s good to be aware of this, and just writing about this here makes me more conscious of the need to change. Now, there is nothing wrong with saying, “Thanks for the day…give us a good night’s rest,” except, of course, if your mind is in neutral and you’re not really communicating with the Lord, just mouthing empty phrases. Guilty, I guess.
We pray with the kids at other times during the day, too. Mealtimes or long conversations talking through life’s concerns provide good opportunities. We have a family devotional time 3 or 4 times a week at breakfast where we pray for another country and memorize Scripture. At the end of this time together, we usually all go around the table and close in prayer. Sometimes we take each petition of the Lord’s prayer and use that as our format. And then driving to school, I will often pray for Josh before dropping him off.
That’s about it. My hope and prayer for my kids is that they will grow to be men and women who pray. If you don’t mind, I would be blessed if you would say a brief prayer for them now. I so want them to know the blessedness of a life of dependence on Jesus, and that’s really what prayer is all about.