Nights can be tough for children. The "If I should die before I wake," sorts of prayers aren't really helping things. Seriously. Nights, specifically right before bed, open the space for deep conversations and rich solitude. As a parent I view 8:30 as the finish line to freedom and I fight the urge to rush our end of the day conversations and prayers. Gone are the days when they can't read the prayers and therefore don't know I skipped the middle.
Now they read and lead the prayers, good stuff for sure, but it takes longer.
For Lent, I'm practicing slow bedtime. Long conversations and lingering prayers. I'm convinced (or I wouldn't be doing it) that this time prepares the space for solitude which is quiet, alone, private time with God.
Here's the Evening Prayer we're using this season.
Child-Like Friendship with God: Evening Prayer
Together in BOLD and Italicized
May the Lord Almighty grant me and those I love a peaceful night and a perfect end. Amen.
Our help is in the Name of the Lord; the maker of heaven and earth.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen
But Jesus called for them and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’
A time of silence to review the day. (This is where you might ask your "Weed" questions from Good Dirt.)
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up.
My eyes are not raised too high for thee.
I do not think on things to great or marvelous
Or matters too difficult for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul
Like a weaned child with its mother is my soul within me.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord make me dwell in safety.
The Lord’s Prayer
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Lord, you now have set us free to go in peace as you have promised; for these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, whom you have prepared for all the world to see: a Light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever more shall be. Amen.
*Pieced together from Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours and Shane Clairborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s Common Prayer