Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep...can you finish the rest of this prayer? Most of us learned this one growing up. Perhaps it still has meaning for you, but maybe it just became a rote recitation. Bedtime prayers are an important part of any Christian family’s routine. Praying together as a family is key. Teaching your child to talk to God as the last thing they do before their head hits the pillow is a great habit. Here are five simple bedtime prayers for kids. Each is based on scripture and can be molded to fit any child and situation. They are a great starting point to helping kids see the empowerment of prayer and the part it can play in their bedtime ritual.
Prayer for Self
When kids are young, their prayers are self-focused. They think mostly about their day, their issues, and their stuff. That’s quite normal. And praying for yourself is a good thing to do. Philippians 1:3 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” This prayer spoken by King David is just a short sentence but holds a deep meaning. A child praying this can ask God to help them have a pure heart and make good choices. Here’s an example of bedtime prayer to pray for oneself.
Dear God, help my heart to be pure. Help my spirit to be faithful to You. Help the choices I make to be good and pleasing to you. Let my thoughts and words be kind towards others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Prayer for Others
It’s easy for kids to think about themselves, but a harder task to get them focused on others. But it must be taught. The second greatest commandment from God is to love others. Kids can learn to pray for the people in their circles, so their focus becomes less self-centered. In Philippians 1:3, Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” He was writing to friends. Before hitting the sack, help kids turn their prayers towards others. This could be family members, friends, classmates, or neighbors. They can be thankful for these people in their lives and also go to God on behalf of their struggles and concerns. Read the model below.
God, thank You for all the wonderful people you put in my life. I’m thankful for my parents and my siblings. Thank you for my friends and classmates. Thank you for the neighbors that live near us. Please help grandma to heal soon. Help Sally as she is sad about her dad moving away. Help me to be an encouragement to the people around me each day. Amen.
Prayer for the World
When kids can look beyond themselves and their circles, there is a whole world to be prayed for. Although it’s vast, and impossible to cover it all, help your children to better understand what’s going on in our country and world by talking about current events. Hurting people in other parts of the world, the worldwide pandemic, and missionaries that your church supports are a few ideas of things to focus on to get you started. 1 Timothy 2:1 is a great reminder to pray for everyone, everywhere. It says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people.”
Here’s a sample prayer, “Dear God, Thank You for creating our world and everything in it. Please be with our missionaries in Haiti and Taiwan. Help them to be safe and preach Your Word. Guide our military wherever they are stationed and keep them safe. Be with all the hurting people in Afghanistan right now. Heal their land. Help all the people who are sick, or who have lost a family member from a terrible disease. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Prayer for Peace
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Sometimes, just like adults, kids struggle with shutting off their minds at bedtime. Thoughts of worry or things that need to be done the next day can run through your brain, making you mentally tired, yet making you escape sleep. A calming way to wind down is to turn these verses in Philippians 4 into a prayer for peace. Add in verse 8 and ask God for peace and to focus your thoughts on good things.
God, help me not to be anxious. I bring all of these things to you, all my negative thoughts, all the stuff that is making me feel worried. Please give me peace that only comes from you. Bring peace to my heart and mind. Help me to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Amen.
Prayer of Praise
Last but not least, teach kids to pray prayers of praise. God is our everything, and we owe everything to Him. He created us to praise and worship Him. Psalm 9:1 says it like this, “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” God is so good, and although He already knows it, part of what we should be doing is boasting about Him, so lead kids in thanking Him specifically for His good deeds. It could go something like this.
Dear God, You are amazing! You are awesome and wonderful! Thank You for creating the earth. Thank you for making me! Thank you for sunrises and sunsets. Thank You for beautiful mountains and cool rivers. Thank You most of all for sending Your Son, Jesus, to be our Savior. Thank You for saving me. We praise You because You are the one true God. There is no one like You. We love you so much. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
Talking to God should be part of a child’s daily routine. Ending their day with this communication will set a good habit of growing closer to Him. Whether it be prayers for specific personal needs or for the closest people to them, God wants to hear it. Teach them to expand their thinking into praying for those they don’t know. Also, remind kids how to focus their thoughts on excellent things and ask for peace to surround their hearts and minds. And don’t forget to put focus on the Creator of all, by offering specific praise for what God has done.