Sam Donoghue descibes the special prayer time he keeps with his children.
Do you remember that only a few weeks ago we had routines? I know it sounds like a magical land that barely exists anymore, but only a few weeks ago our houses really did have routines. Children had to get up to go to school, which meant we at least aspired to get them to bed at a reasonable time, and that meant a bedtime routine. We would obviously fail regularly and generally sit down in the lounge once we’d got the kids to bed and wonder how it was so late when we started the process so early, but we did at least try!
Now we barely know what day it is. However, there is one bit of bedtime routine that I would encourage you to hang on to if possible; bedtime prayer. I’ve always been a fan. For starters, for me it’s one of the few places in the day when praying with my kids has always felt completely natural. Also, if you talk to children about when they feel closest to God, commonly it’s tucked up in bed, drifting off to sleep. So we have before us a natural time to pray, combined with a time when children tend to feel close to God. It is, if you like, a spiritual open goal!
I suggest we keep it simple. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t raise your bedtime game and try and develop all kinds of liturgies and resources! I’m just suggesting we keep it simple to make sure we hold this time as special. Use simple lines that open up simple prayers:
While I’m tucking you in shall I pray for us?
What’s been good today we can thank God for?
Who have we remembered today we could thank God for?
When has God been close to us today?
Is there anything you’re frightened of?
What are we looking forward to?
Who could we ask God to help?
You get the idea. There are many, many simple questions you could ask that would help open up things to pray about.
Finally, don’t worry if it all gets a bit ‘samey’. Even if after a few weeks you end up saying the same words that’s fine. I didn’t realise I did this until l changed it and got corrected by my child for saying the prayers wrong. There is nothing wrong with that – I think we call it liturgy! Remember the aim here isn’t to write new and elaborate prayers to show how clever we are but regular simple words that remind you and your kids that God is close to us.