As children many of us were taught to say our evening prayers. Often they were little short phrases, as befits a child learning to pray. And so we would say prayers like:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take,
Or one like:
Forgive, O Lord, for Thy dear Son
The ill that I this day have done.
That with the world, myself, and Thee
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.
I will tell you frankly that there are days that I go to bed and I am not feeling the least bit thankful. There are days when I look up at the sky like Tevye:
Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor.
But it’s no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?
Our family is neither poor nor rich. So, my complaints are not Tevye’s complaints. But, I will come home frustrated or upset or depressed or ready to shuck it all. It is those days when a child’s prayer goes better for me than the more formal adult prayers that I am supposed to pray. The adult prayers just do not touch me. No, some days, just laying myself down to sleep and asking the Lord my soul to keep is all I can master.
And, it is those childhood prayers that most serve me on those days. The brief prayer is all that I need. I am often not relaxed after the prayer. There are still nights when I lay awake in bed twisting and turning in frustration. But, when all is said and done, I will go to sleep and wake up next day. And, I will wake up knowing that at least I have thanked my God. And, I will know that should I have died, I would have died at least with the thought of God on my lips when I went to sleep.
And I know that that is enough. All that is needful has been accomplished. As the Liturgy says, “It is meet and right so to do.”