I really tried to think of a manlier title for this. But in reality, it is what it is… So let’s talk about Night Night prayers.
In my last post, one of the ways we make preparations for those following us is through our prayers. Let me say, that if you are a dad reading this, this is probably one of the most, if not The Most, important thing you can do for your children. Don’t just pray for your children (always do that) but pray FOR your children while you are WITH your children. Let them hear your words. We have the power of life and death in our words. We can encourage. We can direct. We can strengthen. We can instill hope. We can comfort. We are modeling a conversation with God that will one day shape their own.
This can be a bit challenging and awkward at times, even for me, as a pastor. As men, we are not very good at voicing our feelings and desires for ourselves. It’s even harder for others. But as men, it’s also part of our responsibility as the leader in our home.
As you read this, you’re probably thinking:
“Praying out loud, for someone? That’s weird!”
“My kids know I pray for ’em…I tell ’em all the time.”
“I don’t know what to say, or where to start.”
“What if I mess up?”
“How long doe is it have to be?”
The only way to be able to do it, is just do it. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. It’s not a performance. Push past the awkwardness and it will become a time that you and your children will look forward to. As dads, we will never fully know the impact of the quiet intimate moments in conversation and prayer has on our kids.
In my home, we make bedtime prayers a priority almost every night. Late nights of church events, ball games, homework, and other distractions get in the way from time to time.(Yes, we do miss nights…maybe even two or three in a row. It’s not a to-do list, it’s a conversation.) My girls (even my pre-teen) have come to request our “night night prayers” before they go to sleep.
Maybe you don’t know where to begin. Just start tonight. Let your kids know that you want to pray with them before they go to sleep. Here’s kind of my flow and what this time looks like. It’s not perfect, it’s no secret sauce, and it’s definitely not the only way, but maybe it will give you a start!
I begin each night simply thanking God for all we have, even simplest of things that we often take for granted. (My youngest has this down. That is pretty much all her prayers include at this point. One night she even thanked God for “daddy’s eyebrows and ears!” I’m glad I have those too!!) In a culture that seems to be more consumed with Black Friday than Thanksgiving, gratitude is desperately needed. It changes our “not enough into more than enough.” Craig Groeschel states that “it’s not the happy that are grateful, but the grateful that are happy!” Science has actually proven that this does help relieve depression, stress, and anxiety. The earlier we can teach our kids gratitude the better.
I ask God to watch over my family as we sleep. “No Bad Dreams, only Good Dreams. No headaches, belly aches, backaches, leg aches, or foot aches.” I know it may sound silly, but I believe God hears it. I also enjoy not waking up in the middle of the night with a tiny person standing over me. My girls would often suffer from bad dreams and growing pains. Thankfully those have subsided significantly. (PSALM 4:8)
I pray that we would have a desire to know God’s Word and be obedient to it. (Scripture encourages that we can ask for the desire and the power to know and do God’s will.) I want our eyes open to opportunities to serve and encourage others courageously and compassionately the next day. How we end our day prepares us for how we start our day.
This is simply asking God for what we need or want to see happen in our lives. We also pray for others whether they are sick, hurting, or lost. My middle child, Addison, has a strong compassion for kids without families. So we spend some time praying for them. Jesus gives us the green light over and over in scripture to ask for what we need. If it lines up with God’s Word and Will and brings Him glory, then it brings Him great pleasure to give it to us.
I pray a scripture over my daughters that represents a promise I want to see fulfilled in their life. (Check out Circle Maker by Mark Batterson for more on this.) Since I am raising girls, right now I am praying for their husbands. (YES EVEN MY THREE YEAR OLD!) This could and will change in the future, but for now, I want them to hear me praying for their husband. This was really, really, REALLY awkward at first. But, who they marry is the 2nd most important decision that they will ever make. I want to make sure they choose wisely. I actually say, “Father, I know one day my girls will grow up and will get married. I’m asking you to pick their husband. Just as you singled out Abraham, I’m asking You to single out their husbands who will direct their families in Your ways. ” (GENSIS 18:19) My girls hear those words each night I pray.
We wrap up acknowledging God is our provider, protector, and comforter. We are most grateful for the peace and salvation we have through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Without Him, we would have nothing.
And everybody said??
(Sorry… that was a bit churchy)
I know this may seem like a lot. Honestly, it probably took you more time to read this than it will actually take you to pray it with your kids. On the other hand, there may be some of you who read this and will shoot it full of holes because of theological error. Last time I checked heart was more important than theology.
One of the things that I want more than anything, is for my prayers to echo in the ears and hearts of my kids long after I’m gone. That’s a bitter sweet thought to have, but I believe that it’s also those prayers (and their own) that will guide them too.
So regardless of how old you or your kids are…start now!
I’d love to hear what specific things you pray for your kiddos! Comment below!