Remember bedtime as a kid, “Rock a Bye, Baby” was mom’s sweet serenade as she held you close, then tucked you into bed with a smile. With only the night light glowing she tip-toed out the door, and you were off to dreamland.
As an older kid, mom or dad would come into your bedroom where you were supposed to be already under the covers. “Time for prayers,” was the prompt. And it was the now-familiar, “God bless mama. God bless daddy. God bless baby Jean. God bless. . . ” and the litany of names of each cousin, friend, and near-by neighbors. Later on you were old enough to add names of teacher and classmates.
Then, as the growing-up years went by the bedtime prayers became shorter, more personal, and definitely private. Mom and Dad were busy, the siblings did their own thing.
“Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest,” these familiar words of Matthew 11:28 are sometimes quoted by busy believers.
Stop for a minute and think this through. Is prayer time a drive-thru? Is “rest” only a figment of our childhood memories?
Jesus is not picturing for us a ritual, a formality. He means for prayer time to be symbolic of Sabbath, and vice versa. Be quiet. Sit still. Think of who you are going to be talking to. Go back to that peaceful time of being held in mom’s or dad’s arms at bedtime. Feel that security, let their peacefulness embrace you.
Maybe not every public prayer in church or Sunday School can have that same slow speech, an exclamation of love, a remembrance of acceptance that you can have personally at bedtime by yourself. But stop that rushing around at bedtime prayer time.
Yes, you can certainly bring urgent needs to the Lord. Lay out your frustrations, confusing contradictions, and even tears because they all are components of a genuine communication with our Heavenly Father. But don’t miss that quietness.
We approach God with respect. We think of Who He is. Amazing, all-powerful, all-wise, all-knowing. What an awesome display of love to send Jesus. How can we be so self-centered to demand our own way, instead of asking for His!
And in a restful prayer we own up to our inadequacies, knowing that God is like the father of that Prodigal Son Jesus told about in Luke 15. He didn’t wait for the boy to recite every single misbehavior before calling for the robe, the ring, and the new shoes and a delicious dinner. Yes, we do confess and repent, and that helps us enter into a restful bedtime prayer.
But linger in the embrace. God loves you.
Before you leave the restful bedtime prayer do ask for wisdom and help and empowerment by His Holy Spirit. When you remember that you will not do anything by your own clever ideas or resources, then the pressure is off. Just reach to Him and receive. Restful prayer time is His idea, and one day in Glory you’ll sing praises to Him in person. Now, enjoy prayer today!
###by Elaine Hardt ©2009