It goes something like this, “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. God bless Mommy, Daddy, Mark, Brett and Granny. Amen.” Simple.
I recited that prayer thousands of times as kid. It comes to my memory today as clearly as it did those many thousands of times. It’s wonderfully simple and joyously profound. Its words shaped my soul as an infant and then as a child. It drew a soft blanket of warmth over my bed every night, and it calmed my heart when life turned dark. That simple prayer became a marvelous conduit of connection, creating a place each night where I could connect with God in days that sometimes seemed completely full of Him, and in other days that seemed entirely void of Him. Its words were an anchor of iron proportions dropped into seas churning and calm, restful and tumultuous. Their simplicity held me fast and their depth held me strong. I am warmed when I recite them even today.
But they were never prayed alone. On the edge of my bed sat Mom or Dad or sometimes both of them. The words of this simple prayer were recited in unison, creating a corporate simplicity that lent even greater power to them. There’s something rich when others join us in engaging the infinite. Something about joining another in prayer accelerates our humanity to peaks that we don’t even understand. All we know is that it’s powerful, it exceeds words to encapsulate it, and it sets us in places that we’re supposed to live in but rarely visit. “Now I lay me down to sleep . . . “ prayed with Mom and Dad ushered me in to heavenly places and introduced me to vast spaces far beyond my simple bedroom.
The Acid Test
Samuel Chadwick said that “Prayer is the acid test of devotion.” It is the indication of how devoted we are to God. It‘s the gauge of our love for Him and our commitment to Him. That’s so because it’s the daily enterprise of putting all of our interests, all of our desires, all of our agendas, all of our goals, all of the things that incessantly clamor for our attention, and all other loves behind us in order to focus exclusively and selflessly upon God. Pray is an intentional action of the abandonment of self in favor of the focus and worship of God.
But the acid test of our relationship with others is partnering with them in prayer. It’s joining others in prayer as a means of bringing them before God, and them only. It’s not about any thin shade of us. Our needs and our agendas are rendered entirely invisible and wholly absent, wiped off the slate of prayer. It’s where we utterly relinquish our agendas, completely write off any potential gains and stand solely in the stead of another. Prayer is about partnering with others and bringing their needs before God without a shred of consideration for ourselves. It’s making us entirely invisible so that another is rendered more visible than a single soul can be alone. It’s pristine selflessness. That is the acid test indeed.
Mom and Dad’s Prayers
“Now I lay me down to sleep . . . “ These two adults set their lives entirely aside, sat on the bedside of a heavy-eyed child and spoke those words into his life. They put their own scars aside. They forfeited their own struggles and ignored the uncertainty that often dogged their steps and haunted their days. They held the hand of this tired child and prayed everything for him and nothing for themselves. They faced adversity that I couldn’t comprehend until I faced adversity in my own life. They scaled mountainous obstacles that I had no idea existed for them. They often peered into uncertain futures and prepared to put themselves to bed only to face challenges the next day that I never saw. Yet, in that simple bedroom their prayer was for only for me.
September 06, 2014