We pray with our daughter (20 months) every night before bed. But we don't pray a specific 'memorizable' prayer. We pray how we would normally pray, just out loud and we keep it short. We do have a board book though that has nighttime prayers and sometimes we read that before bed as well.
We only do memorized prayers for mealtimes. Bedtime prayers are not memorized, just whatever our son wants to pray.
I think you just need to talk to God when you pray, not something memorized or rote. We sometimes do a rhyme for our meals but generally we just let our son (2 years) say whatever he wants to say to God.
We do a combination of: 1). Song: We sing "Be Still and Know that I am God," but there are many options to choose from.2). Bible Verse: We speak Numbers 6:24-26 as a blessing over our daughter every night. Again, this is one example and the Bible is filled with many more.3). Specific & Personal Prayer: Following this, we say a specific prayer to God on behalf of our daughter (i.e. praise for how she is growing, that she grow to have a personal relationship with God, help whatever character issue she is currently struggling with, etc.). As she gets older, we will invite her to include her own praises and requests.
We don't pray a set prayer every night either. We just talk to God and our son has learned to pray like this too. We generally thank Him for different aspects of our day or different things we've noticed about Him that day, this part he gets very involved with and has things he wants to add. We pray about our personal growth, physical, spiritual and emotional ( similar to what MHO is her #3). We pray for others in need during and share personal concerns we might have; he is also very involved in this part with specific people he wants to pray for.I have also made a prayer book that we go through after breakfast. We've done this since around 14 months maybe. It has categories of people (family, friends, ministers, govt. officials,...)with each page showing one picture and name. We pray for one person per category each day. You can see it at this link http://engagingtoddleractivities.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/family-prayer-book/.
We do prayers before meals. But we do "Now I lay me down to sleep" before her bedtime. Except we changed the words because the original is kind of morbid. We do the following, "Now I lay me down to sleep - I pray the Lord my soul to keep - Elle is so brave, Elle is so kind - I pray dear Lord you make her Thine." The whole dying part was a little too much for me - assuming you know the original line. Anyway, that's what we do!
We don't do a memorized prayer either. If they are just starting to pray, I would keep it short and simple, especially for a small infant/toddler (attention span). That is how we started our meal time prayers with our daughter. At bedtime, her prayer will always include God watching over her, protecting her and letting her sleep well, but there isn't a necessary script.My advice, don't worry about the words, or the repitition...talk to God, pour your heart out, allow your children to see you do the same...they learn by observing!
We do a combo of memorized and free form prayers with our son, so he's exposed to both types. We do a memorized one (for now) at meals to keep a routine - that one we'll eventually phase out when he's older but it helps him now learn when to be still and quiet before meals. We do a free form prayer after Bible time just speaking to God. And we do the Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, but we follow it with Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible told me so, to not end on such a downer note. My hubby is learning how to free-form pray (raised Catholic so the memorized ones were big), so this gives him something comfortable with our son. Like I said, we'll eventually phase out the memorized ones for free form prayers, but for now it works for us.
I made one up for us as well, starting with the old familiar one, but then changing to our own... "Now I lay me down to sleep,I pray the Lord my soul to keep.Lord keep me safe until I wake,I pray that all bad dreams you'll take.Now give us God a good night's rest,And thank you Lord, for we're so blessed." Then before saying amen with my three-yr-old, we go through our "God bless...." list of whomever she's "led" to pray for that night. I am confident that God makes himself known to and through even the littlest children, we just need to guide them as they grow.
We don't have much ritual in our denomination, and don't use many memorized prayers. We have started a tradition with our son, though. Every night we read a Bible story before bed, then pray (about whatever comes to mind). Then we say a blessing over him. We picked a blessing out of the Bible (ours is "You are the light of the world...found in the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew - but there are many others!), and recite that every night as we put him to sleep. How great it will be to have these verses hidden in his heart as he grows up and hears them every night!
We're Catholic and we do:"Lord, keep us safe tonight. Secure from all our fears. May angels guard us while we sleep until morning light appears."Then we add our own intentions always ending with "Health and happiness to everyone we love."
Now I lay me down to sleepI pray the lord my soul to keepHis angels guard me through the night And keep me safe till morning lightAmen This was a fun little prayer I said as a kidAlong with personal prayer that had no Structure. Hope this helps
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