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Prayers for kids, if you must, but not this one

Now I lay me down to sleep

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.

I just saw a trailer for some creepy movie that included the well-known childhood bedtime prayer “Now I Lay Me.”

That’s exactly where that prayer belongs — in a creepy movie.

I remember saying that prayer myself, sometimes even kneeling beside my bed like you see in so many pictures. And obviously I did that because my parents taught and encouraged the practice.

How horrid to make a child recite a prayer about dying in the middle of his sleep, as though that were a likelihood. Why, at bedtime, introduce a concept as frightening as the possibility of never waking up again. And at precisely the time you want the child to relax and go to sleep.

Arguably a lot of those children are too young to understand the meaning of what they are parroting. But why take the chance? Surely someone has come up with a better bedtime prayer for kids than “Now I Lay Me.” Assuming bedtime prayers are still in vogue at all.

I would vote this prayer out of existence as fast as the scary stories like Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf or the Hansel and Gretel nightmare. Why do we scare our children with stuff like this? It can’t disappear fast enough to suit me.

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