"Yeah, team! Hallelujah!"

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GOAL #2: Bedtime Prayers

My posts generally include sharing my heart, but I feel especially vulnerable writing about a very special routine in our family and how we connect with God and each other.

For the Littles

When the girls were very small, we decided that prayer before bed was going to be a priority for our family. Our routine was quite simple: dinner, bath time, pajamas. While their hair was drying, Daddy played with them and usually got them really excited and hyper. Then he declared it was bedtime and we all knelt around the coffee table in the family room.  Most nights we read a section of a child’s storybook Bible and then we prayed together. 

We definitely had a plan for bedtime prayers so we could keep our easily distracted toddlers engaged as much as possible. We had the girls say, “Thank you, God, for…” and they would fill in the blank with whatever they were thankful for. We also included asking God for needs that the kids might be aware of, such as healing for a sick loved one or safety for a traveling friend. At the end, we would “God bless” every relative we could think of and finished with “AMEN.” After prayers, we gave “hugs and kisses around,” which translates into “hug and kiss each other and go to bed.”

For the Middles

In the middle years, we got rid of the coffee table so we migrated to the couch. The traditionalist in me sometimes misses kneeling though I don’t think it made us more holy or our prayers more answerable. As the girls got older, they saved their pajamas for after prayer time. Somewhere along the line, we added the introduction to our prayer time: “Thank you, God, for our team,” and the rest cheer back, “Yeah, team! Hallelujah!” Not only did it remind the girls that we are a team, but it also kept them involved in prayer time.

Our prayers have always been quite interactive. When Harold’s great aunt came to visit one year, someone prayed and thanked God that she was with us. The girls erupted with a “Yeah!” which was a surprise to one with hearing loss and a strong belief in reverent prayers. At the end of the prayer, she asked, “What happened?”

Back to our prayers. “Yeah, team! Hallelujah!” We continued to pray for things we were thankful for and for personal and family requests. Harold and I often prayed for peaceful sleep and happy dreams for the girls since some struggled with both. 

And then we added an ending: “Help us to love what you love, and hate the things you hate. And thank you, Jesus, for being with us all the time. AMEN.” And of course, there were still “kisses and hugs around.” I’m not sure when we first started this prayer, but I heard the first part on Focus on the Family and knew that it was for our family. Harold readily agreed. The original was “Love what you love and hate what you hate,” but the oldest daughter was concerned and pleaded that we shouldn’t hate anybody, so we made adjustments. We added the second part because we wanted the girls to know that Jesus would never leave them, no matter where they were geographically or spiritually. I’m not sure I considered it to be a permanent part of the prayer, but it has stuck.

For the Teens

Today, our girls at home are in their teens and twenties. Not much has changed, except that two live away from home and sometimes Skype in for bedtime prayers. We even include visiting friends in our bedtime prayer routine and bless them and their families. We all gather before we go to bed, well, at least before Harold and I head to bed and often share about the day's events and talk about what our schedules hold for the next day. We take turns leading bedtime prayers and no one is required to pray, but we each speak out to pray for what stirs our heart. We still thank God for our team and for the many blessings in our lives. We still pray for the needs of our loved ones and pray for each other. It is such a precious thing to hear one child praying for the needs of another. Since our girls are very aware of world events and the persecuted church, our prayers often include missionaries or countries featured in the news. We still end our prayers with the same memorized sentences, followed by hugs and kisses around.

I believe that no matter how your kids are, they never outgrow bedtime prayers and connecting with God with a thankful heart. Does your family pray before bed? I’d love to hear about your family’s routine.