Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Most people are aware of the above prayer in some form or another. I believe it is from the 18th century, and there is more to it. But the verse above is the verse my mother prayed with me when I was small. We followed the prayer with “God bless….” a list that included mostly family.
If you think about it, saying the word "die" for a small child’s prayer seems kind of strange. Like several children, I was afraid of my own shadow. A nightlight was always in my room. My mother had to stay with me in a single bed. She blames her bad shoulder on that! She would slip away once she thought I was asleep, but when I found myself alone, I would do a little sing-song calling for her. My brother would yell for me to shut up. It had to be creepy for him hearing a little girl’s voice in the night singing, “Mama” over and over. But the singing worked, and she would inevitably end up back in my bed. Did I mention I’m that last child my parents had? Wonder why? :)
Anyway, when I was a bit older, I gave up the nightlight because I was embarrassed by it. I still slept with stuffed animals usually pressing my sides and back. I was still afraid of the dark. But at that tender age I found comfort in a bible verse. That verse is Matthew 10:28. If you aren’t familiar with this passage, it reads of not fearing those who can kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Seemingly an odd verse for a young child to find comfort in, but I did.
Recently I’ve found myself ending my evening prayer with the childhood prayer above. As an adult, I now like to sleep in a dark and quiet room. But as I slip into the darkness of sleep, I find comfort in knowing the last thing I’ve asked our Lord is to keep me, and if it is my last moment to take my soul with Him. After all, I’m still my Father’s child.
JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU.