As another year draws to a close and a new year is fresh on the horizon, many of us are thinking more deeply about the personal changes we’d like to see take place in our families. I’ve been reflecting on the rhythms that anchor our days (waking routines, gathering around the table for meals, and bedtimes). This last year I noticed a tendency in myself to wish away the bedtime hour with our three young children (Can we just get it done yet? Would they notice if I skipped that part of the story?) The normal difficulties of room sharing, sibling feuds, and constant re-direction often made that part of my day dreaded and weary.
I first heard John Piper speak on the bedtime blessing. Then I heard Sally Clarkson and David Michael and knew this was something I wanted to do with our own children.
“A bedtime blessing gives children one last impression of their whole day, and it is a redeeming time of bringing and restoring and offering peace.” (Sally Clarkson)
What is a bedtime blessing?
“Although a blessing could be considered to be a form of prayer, there is a clear distinction between the two. Simply put, in prayer we are directing our attention toward God. We “ask God for things”, which may include His blessing. A blessing, on the other hand, comes from God and is directed toward His people. When we bless, we are invoking, summoning, or calling upon God’s blessing for the benefit of another. When we bless, we become a channel for God’s blessing to flow through us to another.” -David Michael
Simply put, with a bedtime blessing you are calling upon God’s blessing over the life of your child.
My children are teenagers…or they are out of the house…what about me?
It’s never to late to start. Never. The biggest lie the enemy wants you to believe is that your kids are too old to start something new like this, or they are too far from the Lord, or that you missed your chance at investing in them spiritually a long time ago. It’s NOT too late, it’s never too late. If your children are still living under your roof, this opportunity is still yours.
I also know there are many grandparents who are praying and wishing their children would walk faithfully with the Lord. They are grieved as they see even their own grandchildren growing up in homes where the gospel is not loved and taught. Grandparents, this could be the one, most transformative thing your grandchildren remember about those overnight visits.
3 Steps (to Bedtime Blessings)
1. The LAST thing
The bedtime blessing is that last anchor in your day. It’s the LAST thing you want your children to go to sleep hearing and remembering. You’ve done your bedtime routine (pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a book), and the kids are tucked in bed. These are the last words you speak over your children before you leave their room.
2. The CONSISTENT thing
The bedtime blessing should be done so consistently in your home that it becomes the thing your children remind you about even when you forget. Place a sticky note by their bed for the first month to remind yourself, set an alarm on your phone, or create some type of visual that works for you. While most of us will need to read the blessings for the first few weeks, the goal is that we will memorize them and be able to eventually speak them over our children without needing a reference.
3. The BEST thing
On those long, hard days when you’re not sure you can handle disciplining those temper tantrums or eye rolls one more time, the bedtime blessing is perhaps the best moment you can experience with your child all day. When all else has gone wrong, this can be the time of forgiveness, making peace, and expressing praise and affirmation. Bad days CAN end in good ways.
2 (Bedtime Blessing Examples)
Psalm 1 Blessing
May the LORD Bless You! May the LORD give you the courage not to walk in the counsel of the wicked; the faith not to stand in the path of sinners; and the resolve not to sit in the seat of mockers. May you always delight in the law of the LORD and meditate on it day and night. May you be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. May the LORD prosper all that you do for His glory, And may the LORD watch over your way all the days of your life so that you can stand in the day of judgment and join the assembly of the righteous forever. Amen!
Ephesians 6:10-17 Blessing
May you be a man/woman who is strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. May you be blessed with the full armor of God so that you can resist the devil’s schemes. May you stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, and the breastplate of righteousness in place, and your feet fitted with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. May you take up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground. Amen!
(From A Father’s Guide to Blessing His Children by David Michael)
1 (Or More Helpful Resources)
I was very encouraged by A Father’s Guide to Blessing His Children by David Michael. It’s a short booklet that will only take you an hour or so to read through. Within it he includes several pages of blessings you can choose from. I would love to know if you purchase the booklet and begin a bedtime blessing routine with your family!
The Importance of Bedtime Routines by Sally Clarkson
How Do I Bless My Children Before Bed? John Piper