Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep…

I’m currently taking a break from writing this blog to work on a special project to give hope, encouragement and tools to awaken in faith and pass it on to the next generation. Leading up to this, I’m reposting a series I did on Deuteronomy 11 to especially provide parents with practical ways to live out their faith with their children. Please enjoy, and I look forward to sharing more soon.


I’ve heard many parents say they simply can’t find a time to have a faith talk or faith walk with their children. The schedule is constantly changing and the family is just too busy. We could go back and forth about priorities but that argument has not helped children grasp the gospel any better. Rather than engaging in that debate, I’d like to propose consideration of one simple question:

Do your children sleep?

If the answer is “no,” then you may want to schedule an appointment with a medical professional.

If it just doesn’t “seem” like it, then welcome to parenthood.

But if the answer is “yes,” then you already have a built-in opportunity to extend the arm of God into the heart and life of your child.

Bedtime Routines

When children are young, routines are a must. I’m not talking about planning out every minute of every day to control your child. I’m referring to the rhythm of expectations that your child experiences.

When they wake up, they generally expect breakfast. Skipping breakfast would break the rhythm and make for a rough day. Nap times are generally part of the routine in order to give them a break from the craziness and provide them with opportunity to get all the rest their little bodies need. At the end of the day, there tends to be a time when all little ones need to wind down for sleep. A wise parent knows the needed rhythm and works within that rhythm.

When children are older, things get even busier. From school, to dance, to games, to parties – your life may be made up more of transitions than actual activities. Even at this stage, however, there is a time or curfew when the rhythm slows and sleep comes. I know of many teens who take this time to finish homework, read a favorite book, or listen to music. Depending upon the activity, those things may also stimulate the mind rather than put it at rest.

But, since a wind-down to sleep is inevitable, why not consider taking literally a minute or two to give a glimpse of God’s love and put their hearts and minds to rest in His arms?

Bedtime Blessings

Our family has developed a habit of saying a blessing on each child as they lay down for sleep. It doesn’t happen every night, although perhaps it should. Some nights we give everyone an opportunity to pray. Some nights we do both. When given the choice, though, my children typically ask me to bless them.

I started after doing a table talk with my children as we observed Shabbat. We had a family meal and used the visual imagery of candles, hand washing, and bread to draw attention to what God has done for us. In many cases, a Shabbat also includes a blessing upon the children:

For a girl: “May God bless you and make you like Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel.”

For a boy: “May God bless you and make you like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

I would say this over my girls, but then I also got into the habit of personalizing it a bit by including the names of their Christian heritage with which we are truly blessed – their great-grandmother’s name, grandma, and mom.

Another one came from memorizing the brief “priestly blessing” in Numbers 6:24-26.

The LORD bless you and keep you;

The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

This was a good starting point for me. It helped me and my children realize that, even though I was the one speaking, the blessing was really from God.

Bedtime Reminders

There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you determine to do this:

  • Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be some flowery prayer of blessing from Saint So-and-So of AD 300. Simply pray a blessing of a sentence or two that God brings to mind or share a short Scripture.
  • Keep it personal. Don’t just say the same thing for each child or the same blessing each night. Even if you use the same Scripture, take a moment to personalize the blessing saying your child’s name and applying the blessing to what’s going on in their life right now.
  • Keep it Gospel-focused. It’s easy for the blessings to be about my wants and desires. Those aren’t really blessings, though. They are baggage we offload onto our children. Instead, be sure your desire matches the desire of God. If you begin by praying a Scripture blessing, this will help both you and your child keep things focused in the right direction.

Over time, you will have several blessings to pray over your children. You may even offer for them to choose which blessing the really want to hear for a particular evening. It gives you a picture of what their hearts need when they ask for a blessing from passage like Philippians 1:6, Matthew 5:14-16 or Hebrews 13:5. Not only will they hear what God has to say to them, but they learn to trust in the Word as their foundation for faith and godliness.

So, I assume your child is going to sleep tonight. If so, you have time to pass on your faith through blessing. Regardless of their age or the awkwardness getting started, why not ask them for one minute of their time to bless them? If your relationship is strained and they aren’t interested, stand by their door and say it. Whether they want it or not, they desperately need to know that God loves them and wants good for them.

How about it? Why not choose a blessing above and give it shot, and share your experience in the comments below to encourage others.

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