bedtime prayers suck

How is that a good day can go bad in a matter of 10 minutes.  For me that is bedtime.  It seems as though everyone turns whiny and non-compliant when it comes to bedtime routines.  For me the worst is praying with the kids.  I dread it and I hate that I dread it.  It seems as though they don’t care, they don’t listen and they don’t sit still.  Yes, they are 4 and 2, but seriously can they not sit and act like they care about talking to God for 2 minutes.

Tonight during our prayers before bedtime Cayden earned himself a time out for the first 6 minutes of playtime tomorrow and Deacon earned himself 7.  And they were in one minute increments!

Am I asking too much?  I need help from you families out there that pray with your kids at night.  What is your routine?  How does it work?  What am I doing wrong?  How do I get my kids to see the time we spend praying at night as valuable?  It was so bad tonight that I wanted to scream and yell and while I prayed (b/c no one else would) all I could think about was how mad I was and wished we wouldn’t have even sat down to pray.

Then I went over to Cayden’s bed and laid with him and talked about some other issues we had today I talked to him about praying. I asked him what he was thankful for and he came up with something and he actually prayed and so I left the room with a tad bit of redemption.  I loved that moment and it made the night much better after our individual time together.

Maybe I need to pray with them individually.  BUT they are in the same room and Deacon’s still in a baby bed.

Okay anyhow …. send me your suggestions.  Seriously what am  I doing wrong and how can I make this better?

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18 responses to “bedtime prayers suck

  1. I totally understand Jamie!! We can have an amazing day and then bedtime hits and it seems to be all for nothing. The girls are good about praying but they are not good about staying in their beds. I am very into routine and doing the same thing every night as far as the bedtime process.

    Maybe you could try praying at a different time, like right after they get their pj’s on you can sit them in a special place just for prayers, or better yet, teach them how to get on their knees at the foot of their bed. Not making it the last thing that you do because in their little minds, they know that after you are done with that prayer then it is lights out. They are just stalling you and in the mean time, missing out on something that is so special for them and you. Another thing you could try, is a chart just for bedtime. Make it velcro and they each can have their own side, moving it up and up until it’s lights out. Seems silly to put prayer on a chart, but for some reason kids that age love to know what to expect and like thinking that they are in charge of deciding what will come next. Let them help you in deciding the flow of bedtime routine…then, they will feel ownership in it and maybe stick to it better. Just some thoughts. I feel your pain though. You are such a good Mommy and no matter what ‘this too shall pass”, right??????

    :)) Love your blog!

  2. That is so funny. When Savannah, Ali and Josh were about that age we had devotional books that we did with them every night that told a little story with scripture then it would ask three questions about the story at the end. Ali would always say, “That’s a kinda hard question” and it would be something very obvious about the story she just heard. We also wondered just how effective this was. But hearing a story got their attention and the book also gave a small prayer to say at the end and they would add their own thoughts to it. Maybe that would get the boys more excited about praying? I bought the devotional books at the church bookstore. I think I still have one of them. I will try to find it for you if you want.

  3. Thanks girls!
    You know we do have a devotional book and I need to get it out. It just seems so big for Deacon that I loose him while we’re reading it.

    i have heard of the chart thing and I am thinking about that. It seems like it really works well for others. I’m also thinking that we should move our prayer time to a different time of the day. I think that is true about right before bedtime … they want to stall b/c they know what will happen after prayers – bed!

    I was also thinking that maybe I’m not spending enough “random” times praying with them. I want prayer to be important to them, but yet I only pray with them at dinner and before bed … not showing the importance of it. So, I think I should put more value in our prayer times throughout the day and not just over meals and before bed.

  4. I have four kids and have learned over the years that we can’t do everything together with all the kids my older ones (twins ) were ready for more of a prayer and devotion time and the young ones were not there yet , I would find a different time out of the bedroom for night time prayer that way they aren’t thinking about stalling to go to bed or at bedtime you pray over them i think they learn a lot about prayer by watching and listening to you. I would not stress to much about it all I am sure they are learning a lot about a relationship with Christ by watching you and your husband the discipline of prayer will come. I love your blog and am praying for your adoption to go quickly remember paper work is no problem for the Lord HE can move it quickly.

  5. Hey Jamie. I am enjoying reading your blog. I appreciate your honesty. We don’t pray at bedtime. I know that may sound weird, but the kids are too tired and don’t seem to be able to do it then. We pray in the morning to say what we’re thankful for and to pray for our day. Then we just pray throughout the day too if something’s on my mind or if we’re all acting bratty. At night, we say a blessing over the kids. They really love it and don’t have to say anything or muster up any energy. There are some good blessing books out there that teach about blessings and also have blessings you can read out loud. Or you could write your own or make one up on the spot. I usually read one over them. They like the consistency and something about knowing we are speaking blessings over them is very calming…perfect for bedtime. Hope that helps. Whatever you decide to do, just keep at it. This stage is hard, but remember that they really are soaking it all in!

  6. I so remember those days. I thought they would never pass, they did. All the suggestions given have been really good. Not sweating the small stuff worked for us. We just continued with bedtime talks and prayers even though sometimes it was the last thing we wanted to do. I have experienced the melt down feeling when all you want to do is put a happy stamp on the completed day. The kids really have grown into slowing down at night to talk with God. It is important to them. It happened even though there were many stressful nights.

    You are an awesome mom.

  7. We decided that we didn’t want to place a negative on prayer .. ie punishments and the like. So (ours are 3 and 2) so we just let them do whatever they must as long as they are in the same vicinity as us. Normally they are just squirly but are right in their little chairs after we read the veggie tale Bible to them … they love this. so we will pray and then ask them if they want to tell Jesus anything … normally they will tell him they want to go to their grandparents house and that’s it. Sometimes we will get more out of them if something else is going on but we don’t force it. We do a family hug and then put them to bed. They also share a room. We pray with them during the day as well when appropriate but we try not to make a big deal out of it. If they dont want to we don’t force it b/c we don’t want them to equate prayer with something negative. make sense? hopefully, in time prayer will come naturally for them and we have seen our oldest even come to us to pray for different things … mostly his boo boos but he does want to go to Jesus and that makes us smile.

  8. My boys are 5 and 7 and I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter. Just recently we started doing a devotion and prayers in the morning – with a school routine this works out well. We read and the I pray for each of us for the day – I have started asking them for prayer requests for friends as well. They are squirmy and overall as long as they are quiet I am good with that! We’ve always done a BIble story at bedtime and my dh or I pray. We’ve started them on doing sentence prayers (2 year old probably not quite ready for that!) Thank you God for…. they call it the prayer game, which I cringe at a bit, but they like it and it’s a positive experience – so I am going with it! Don’t know if that helped or not? I do struggle with how “reverant” they should be and I’m not sure how to answer that! I guess we just have to remember that they are little boys!

  9. We pray for our day in the car on the way to school. He has no choice but to be still, he is in his car seat. I pray and then he will pray. Terry does the night time prayer, he has a little devotion book he reads and they pray. If Terry goes out of town he takes the book and calls at bed time, and Alex always ask if he has the book if he is going to be gone. This would be harder for you since Aaron is out of town more, but for me the end of the day is when I have the least patience and it is hard for me not to loose it, so I have given that task to Terry, he is much better at it than me. But, don’t give up I have seen with Bri if you make prayer a part of life they will continue with it. I love when I go to kiss her good night and she is sitting there reading her bible, it just does something to me that she wants to do this on her own, she is after all a teenager lol. Hang in there it gets better.

  10. I know it is hard, but when they are teenagers and you go to bed before them, and they come in and wake you up to say, “You haven’t prayed with me yet,” you will be glad you put in the effort. I used to go to each one and give them time to talk about their day. Then I would say a “short” prayer and let them say their prayer. Sometimes I would dread being taken away from my tv show to go up, but it was always such a blessing. Even though you can’t go in each room, it still makes them feel special to have your attention all to themselves. Also remember, you are talking to God on their behalf, so that they will see how important prayer is to you. As they get older, it will become important to them because of your example. It’s more about hearing what is important to them (their prayers) so that YOU will know how to pray for them and nurture them to be the men of God that he wants them to be. So many moms don’t put ANY effort into prayer time. It’s hard, but you are an amazing mommy for doing this. I still go in and pray with each of my kids if they are in their room when I go to bed. Even Jared will tell whomever he is talking on the phone to “hold on” so I can pray with him (quickly). Keep it up! You’re awesome!

  11. thanks for all the wonderful comments. I called aaron this morning and told him to read them too.

    i do want to have a great prayer relationship with my kids, but if i am completely honest with you all and with myself i would say that our prayer times are only at bedtime and meal time …. exactly what i don’t want to teach my kids. i don’t want them to view prayer as just a “tradition” that we do before we eat and before we sleep.

    SO … I’m going to not stress over bedtime prayers. I’m going to let them happen as we go and if it is a bad night …. I’m not forcing them to pray and I will pray over them like Staci suggested.

    I am going to start having morning prayer time so we can pray for our day and hopefully they’ll be more attentive then and we’ll just go with the flow. I’m going to also try and pray with them throughout the day.

    So …. we’ll see how things go. I for sure don’t want to make prayer time negative like it was last night.

    Also it is harder when Aaron’s out of town … I’ve been the #1 parent for 5 days now and so come bedtime they are tired of me and I’m looking so forward to my personal alone time at night that i can be short on patience and in a hurry. so it’s not all them either!

    thanks for the great suggestions and encouragement.

  12. these are all really great thoughts! Thanks for all the input…and I agree that jamie is a fantastic mommy!

  13. Don’t make them sit still while you pray. Just don’t. And pray short. Really – REALLY short. Let them see you praying with your husband and by yourself. Don’t do the “bow your head and close your eyes” prayers at that age. Look around the room and everyone takes turns saying, “Thank you God for …” or “Help me God with …”

    At this age, their bodies and their minds are in constant motion. They can’t even take a dump sitting still.

    My parents once decided that we would sit down every single night and have a devotional time. Dad would read something. Mom would give us “go ye not to heaven” looks. I remember the very last night of this highly organized event. My younger brother (who was probably four or five at the time) could roll his stomach like a belly dancer. He had painted his belly button green. He was pulling up his shirt and rolling away, as that little green spot would appear and disappear. It was hysterical, and much more interesting than whatever the heck my dad was droning on and on about!

    It all ended in spankings and yelling. I remember HATING “devotional time.” Just hearing the word “devotional” makes my stomach hurt to this day.

    Make prayer as natural as breathing all day long – in tiny little spurts – as life just happens. They’ll grow and it will continually evolve as you all change. When my kids were that young, sometimes I would just sing over them before leaving the room as a prayer. With time, their brains will develop enough to truly start to grasp God. Right now, the whole sitting still and shutting eyes is outside of what their minds can easily absorb every single night. Sometimes they need more freedom in ending the day together.

    Keep it short. Keep it joyous. Keep it pertinent to what is actually going on that day in your home. Keep it interactive. Keep it unbelievably flexible.

    The other day, Mac came in and sat down on the couch and buried her face in her hands. She just sat there. “Honey, you okay?” She held up a “just a minute” finger. Finally, she sat up and said, “*sigh* Alright. I just had to pray for a minute. My sisters were driving me crazy. I’m okay now!” And she hopped off.

    Success.

  14. our night are like that as well. It’s always a struggle to get the boys still and quiet. I’m really gaining a lot from these comments!

  15. chasingthelion

    I didn’t get to read all the comments, so I’m sure I’ll repeat what they’ve said. We keep bedtime prayers really simple. It is us praying for our children’s night. We basically pray

    Dear Father, please watch over our children tonight. Help them to sleep well, be with them in their dreams. We invite the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and angels to speak to them as they sleep to show them their destinied and who they are.

    We also pray for our son’s biological family by name and ask the Lord to keep and guide them.

    prayers are the last thing we do before they sleep and at that point, they are all ready to go to sleep so it is our time to bless and cover them, rather than asking them to participate.

  16. Jamie…I don’t really know you & I even think you are an awesome mom!

    The best bit of parenting advice I ever received were these simple words; “Be consistent”. Every time we have hit the snags with our 4, those simple little words ring in my ears. I agree with many here that you could change it up here & there and try to see if there happens to be a new time or a way method that works for a while. Of course, as they grow, you will have to change that several times until they get old enough that a good routine sticks and becomes a part of their personal life as well.

    In the midst of it all, think of this…you are modeling, in front of them, the importance of quiet time with God at the end of the day…you are showing them that no matter what opposition comes your way, no matter how satan tries to deter you from instilling this valuable principle, you are not going to hand him the victory….you are giving them life long memories of special prayer time with their momma; I know they seem to dislike it now, but they will grow to love it!

    Keep up the good work…and know that you are just like everyone of us moms out there and, as with everything else in life, this too shall pass. I am praying right now that you would be encouraged!

  17. You’ve received some great suggestions here, and I just wanted to add that the most peaceful mine become is when I am praying over them at night. We have 5 kids (12, 9, 7, 4 and 5 mo). I will touch each of them and thank the Lord for giving them a compassionate heart, or the way they make me laugh, or the way they are sensitive towards their sister when she is hurt. I will touch their hands and thank the Lord for how helpful they were that day. I will touch their feet and ask that the Lord use them to be a servant for Him. I will touch their head, their lips, their hearts, etc. You get the idea. We don’t do this every night…but it might be somewhere to start. The other thing I started doing when my kids were just little was just speaking prayers outloud all through the day. Like seeing a little ladybug…”Thank you, Jesus, for creating this beautiful ladybug and this flower”. It’s amazing how they started coming back to me with “mom, look at these ants God created” and then they would start saying, “thank you, God for these ants and this dirt.” Or when we would here a ambulance siren, we’d pray for whoever was hurt, for the workers going to help, for the family, etc. These were some of simple ways that we incorporated speaking prayers outloud into the entire day.

    I have a couple of books suggestions…but I have to go find the titles. I’ll leave them later.

    I just want you to know that I think you are a fabulous mommy. And even though I wrote all of these suggestions…I still more times than are neccessary end up yelling at my kids at bedtime. I am tired and ready for that alone time. In an instant, I can blow it over how messy their room is, how long they are taking to brush their teeth, etc. I’m not proud of it, but I wanted you to know bedtime is hard for me too. This is great reminder for me on how to properly set the stage for a peaceful nights rest.

  18. They are still little & very young. Perhaps you want it to soon for them. Try it another time of the day – perhaps during a bath. They will remember that you taught them to pray w/out ceasing and that will mean more than just praying at night. Also – give them a few more years, I personally don’t think kids are ready to cut off emotions when ever we tell/expect them to when they are young. My boy is 8 & I look back now when he was 3-5 & regret some of the ways I treated him and some of the things I expect him to do which were beyond his years.

    my .02cents

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