“Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep, Thy love stay with me through the night and wake me with the morning light. God bless Mommy and Daddy”….and then I’d list my siblings, grandmother, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends.
We were Protestant and Protestants didn’t kneel. Nor did we say, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
The prayer ritual remains, but now that I am not a child, I pray for family and friends in the morning. However, there is something very comforting in ending the day with a prayer that reviews the day, a practice from the examen of Saint Ignatius.
Br. Luke Ditewig, of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, offers four questions that he prays near bedtime.
“There are many ways to pay attention to God’s action in our lives. One way that helps me is to stop and pray near bedtime. I ask myself these questions: “For what am I most thankful today? When was I most fully alive? How did I receive love? How did I give love?” * For often in these moments, God was catching me: appearing in a surprising form, being right there to save me. Stopping to reflect, I now see and say “thank you.”
When I’m hurting or afraid or anxious, it can be hard to go to sleep. So by reviewing the day, I remember I was caught, I was loved. Holding these memories close to my heart, I can go to sleep, trusting for gifts of love tomorrow.” **
* Questions by Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn. (1995) Sleeping With Bread: Holding What Gives You Life. Paulist Press.
Their similar book (2006) Making Heart-Bread is great for teaching this to children.