Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep ...
© Betty Sue Eaton
One of the first prayers a child learns from its parents is the "Good Night" prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake;
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take.

I taught it to my three children, each as they became old enough to recite it after me as I put
them to bed for the night. Then I taught it to my grandchildren as I tucked them in on the
weekends they spent with me and their Grampa. It is a charming little prayer, but more
importantly, its also one that teaches children that there is a Father in Heaven watching over
them even before they fully understand about Christ's birth and death for their salvation.

This little prayer is probably the first time in their young lives that children hear the word "die" in
connection with themselves, but with little meaning to them. This is the first time they are made
aware even in passing  that death enters their minds. I know that they have little understanding
that they may someday actually go to Heaven. Death is still just a word in their rapidly
developing vocabulary, and like many others words is an interesting concept.

My niece, aged eleven, drowned while playing in a stock tank as the class celebrated the last
day of school on a picnic. Attending the funeral, we saw Claretta lying in a satin swathed
casket awaiting interment later in the day. Her younger brothers, ages six and four, looked in
confusion at her seemingly sleeping in it. The younger one, David, asked of me, "Why is
Claretta sleeping in that box? Why don't she wake up and come home?"

There were no bruises or injuries obvious to us and they couldn't understand why she was
there. I explained that she was asleep but that she was gone away to be with Jesus and
couldn't come back home, ever. Lee Roy seemed to understand that she was dead, but David
continued to question and complain that she should come on home with us.

Later that week, their dog, Laddie, was hit by a car passing their house and killed. Lee Roy
wanted to know if I could help him bury Laddie in the back yard and put a cross on his grave. I
did and when we had finished we said a prayer over him. Then Lee Roy said, "Aunt Betty, now
Claretta will have Laddie to play with in Heaven, won't she?" I assured him that she would love
seeing Laddie there.

When we lose a loved one it can seem like they are just asleep and we wish with all our hearts
that they could wake up and come on home with us. But being adults and knowing the
finiteness of life, we must accept that they, too, are asleep to us but at home and happy to be
with our Father in Heaven. Some of us can deal with the loss of our dear one in our everyday
lives while others have a more difficult grief experience or may never come to terms with the
finality of death.

If you have lost a loved one and are grieving the passing from this life of that one, think of the
childhood prayer, "if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take. Amen." Amen,
So be it, Thank you Lord, for taking my precious loved one Home to be with you. This is the
most difficult prayer you may ever utter, but it also may be the most profound plea you can
imagine. As you closed your eyes as a child and said this simple little prayer, you no doubt
believed that God was hearing you and would honor your request, and that you would be safe
with Him who watches over all his children equally. As you recited its simple lines by rote with
your parents watching and listening to you, you felt safe as though nothing in the world could
harm you because not only your parents were keeping you safe, but God, Himself, was there
with you. You asked and you believed with all your heart that He heard you and would honor
your petition.

That was true in your childhood years, and it was still true as you grew up and became an
adult, still relying on the fact that God would be watching over you whatever came to be. Only
now, when the time for the life of your loved one has played out according to God's plan for
them, you can still rely, even more personally, on His promise to be with you and guard your
soul for all eternity. No more worries, no more illness, no more pain or suffering; just peace and
joy as you celebrate your own arrival in Heaven to be with God the Father, Christ the Savior
and all the angels. You prayed for it as an innocent child at your mother's knee believing it
would be so when you died; now it has come to pass for your loved one who also believed and
the prayer has been fulfilled for them.

God promised in that little prayer, and He still holds that promise out to you and your loved one,
and He never makes a promise that He will not keep. Rely on that and turn your grief over to
Him. He will one day bring joy back to you as you accept that your loved one is now and for
eternity with Him where you will go to meet them when God's plan for you has been fulfilled.
Only He can heal you and bring you peace.

If you have lost such a dear one, I urge you to turn to God, who heals all hurts, now and
forever. He promised.


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