There are times when my kids use stall tactics at bedtime. You know, like, “I need to go potty!”, “I need a drink,” or “My toe hurts.” I could tell this wasn’t one of them. Jack looked genuinely scared.
“Want me to pray with you?” I offered as I walked him back to bed. He nodded.
Laying in bed next to my little boy, I wondered what I could say that would eradicate that monster from his thoughts. Then the light bulb went off: Psalm 23!
By way of background information, we’ve been saying Psalm 23 with our kids about once or twice a week before bed since they were very young. In fact, I dug up an old video of my son reciting the first half of Psalm 23 at age 2 1/2.
Look, I assure you we’re not outstanding, over-achiever parents. We didn’t make him memorize this or drill him each day. We simply read it together consistently. And, my son memorized Psalm 23 at age 2 faster than I did. Isn’t it amazing what kids can learn at such a young age? I know I so often underestimate what they are capable of. Oh parents (speaking to myself mainly), may we not waste these precious little “sponge-like heart” years!
Back to the monster in the now 5-year-old’s mind at bedtime.
“Instead of thinking about that monster, let’s say and think about Psalm 23 together. I want you to imagine a picture in your mind for each part we say together.” I was speaking from experience–from the nights I had woken up with fears and anxieties and eventually fought them back with Psalm 23. Both kids (Hannah, my 3-year-old shares a room with Jack) agreed to give it a try.
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
“Do you see a shepherd? What does a shepherd do?” I asked.
“Takes care of his sheep,” Hannah chimed in.
“Right! And how is God like our shepherd?”
“He takes care of us and protects us,” Jack offered. I could already see a calmness coming over him.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
“I see big green hills with flowers everywhere,” said Hannah. “And birds!” added Jack.
“Can we have a picnic on the green grass?” I asked.
“Yeah!” they laughed.
We talked through and pictured the entire Psalm. It wasn’t a forced conversation or formal teaching time. Quite the opposite. Jack, Hannah, and I were experiencing God’s good promises together. We were slaying that ugly monster with beauty and truth!
By the time we were done, both my children lay still and quiet (a rare thing!). The peace of God in the room was palpable. The truth hidden in my children’s hearts had born fruit that night.