Bedtime is a moment, for parent and child, to acknowledge that at the end of the day, God loves us. No matter our failures, we can rest in grace. Bedtime liturgies use habitual prayers to find words (and actions) that incorporate the truths of the gospel into our routines – especially at the moments of the day when we are tired and the most likely to need them.
A Bedtime Blessing of Gospel Love
Said perhaps with a hand on your child’s face or head.
Parent: Do you see my eyes?
Parent: Can you see that I see your eyes?
Parent: Do you know that I love you?
Parent: Do you know that I love you no matter what bad things you do?
Parent: Do you know that I love you no matter what good things you do?
Parent: Who else loves you like that?
Child: God does.
Parent: Even more than me?
Parent: Rest in that love.
A Tickle Blessing
Suddenly, and with lots of squirming:
Parent: Dear Lord, may this child find much joy and laughter, all of his/her days.
Child: Uncontrollable laughter, until they can barely breathe.
A Bouncy Blessing
While bouncing the bed around the child, and trying to get as much giggling and flopping as possible.
Parent: Dear Lord, may this child bounce from blessing to blessing, all of his/her days.
Child: Bouncing and laughing
A Squeeze Blessing
During a really big, really tight hug:
Parent: Dear Lord, may this child feel your love wrap around them, all of his/her days.
Child: Struggles to break free, and hopefully laughs.
A Blessing for the Body of a Child While Lying in Bed
As prayer progresses, move hands to touch each part of the body:
Jesus, bless their feet, may they bring good news.
Bless their legs, may they carry on in times of suffering.
Bless their backs, may they be strong enough to bear the burdens of others.
Bless their arms, to hold the lonely, and their hands to do good work.
Bless their necks, may they turn their heads toward the poor.
Bless their ears to discern truth, their eyes to see beauty, and their mouths to speak encouragement.
Bless their minds, may they grow wise.
And finally, bless their hearts, may they grow to love you – and all that you have made – in the right order.
A Short Blessing for Littles When You Are Frustrated
Parent: God loves you. Jesus died for you. And the Holy Spirit is with you. Goodnight.
Pause for a deep breath, and a gentle touch.
Parent: So I too will love you. I too will sacrifice for you. And I too will never leave you.
A Nightly Parent’s Prayer:
Prayed just before the parent goes to bed, either beside the sleeping child’s bed, or if they sleep lightly, then with an open palm head toward or against the sleeping child’s door:
“Lord help me. May I be parented by your grace, and in turn give them the same. Amen.
A Note on Adapting:
As kids get older, a tickle blessing might be more embarrassing than endearing. Still pray for your older kids before they go to bed, though adapt by reaching up to put a hand on his/her head and looking him/her in the eye. Intentional words still matter.
We Always Need the Reminder of Grace: God’s love inspires our action, but our action does not inspire God’s love. Our family habits will not change God’s love for us, but God’s love should change our family habits.