he nightly get-ready-for-bed routine was almost always the same. After changing into pajamas and brushing their teeth, my sons would jump in the bed, pull up the covers, and wait for me to help them say their prayers. I would sit on the edge of the bed and have them repeat simple prayers that usually included family members, pets, grandparents, and pressing issues like broken toys and broken hearts.
Amy would usually read to them, but prayers were my job. Night after night we prayed together, and then I would kiss them and turn out the light. It was sad when they grew old enough to no longer need me to pray. Big boys can pray their own prayers.
I always looked forward to the nightly prayers. I enjoyed hearing my sons pray in their innocence. Although I was probably a little too rigid in the routine, I can recall wondering if these prayers might make any difference in their young lives. At least I knew it was a good habit for them-one I hoped would last throughout their lives.
My three sons have now grown up. My youngest just graduated from college. Two of them are married, and my oldest has blessed Amy and me with three grandchildren. Recently I was visiting his home, and to my great delight, he has a nightly ritual—he leads his children in bedtime prayers. It was like going back in time. I listened in as Mike led his sons in prayer. Through their giggles I heard my grandsons pray for family members, grandparents, and various topics pertaining to little-boy life. There’s no way to describe how it made me feel.
Parenting is hard work. I was not a perfect dad—I am flawed just like every other human being. But I’m thrilled that some of the good rubbed off, and hoping the other stuff will be overlooked or forgotten. I also pray that my son gets to experience hearing his children lead their children in bedtime prayers. I can testify it will warm his heart, and maybe cause a few tears.
I always loved to hear my sons laugh-well, most of the time I loved it. Sometimes the laughter meant I better come running before the house burned down! But that’s normal life for the dad of three boys. As I recall my grandsons trying to repeat their father’s words while snickering at whatever they thought was funny, it occurs to me that perhaps God likes to hear His children laugh as well.
True, prayer is serious business . . . but joy is a necessary ingredient in life. In the world of preschool boys, prayers and giggles are just fine. Come to think of it, I think it’s just fine in my world too. Happy praying!