A child's prayer reinvented

I'm sitting in a hotel room awaiting delivery of room-service breakfast. Nothing fancy (granola, yogurt, orange juice), but to me, room-service anything is grande cuisine. A hotel is the venue for this post because I'm out-of-town for a work-related event. Typically when I'm traveling, I find it hard to sleep the first night away from home. New noise and new pillow contribute to the difficulty. The biggest culprit, however, is a mind racing with what it left behind at home and what's to come tomorrow.

Last night was no exception. As I lay there trying to force my mind from race mode to sleep mode (an action which is obviously unforceable), the children's prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep" came to my mind.

We all know the words:

"Now I lay me
Down to sleep
I pray, Oh Lord
My soul to keep
If I should die
Before I wake
I pray, Oh Lord
My soul to take."

The words should really be quite terrifying to a young child. Who among us likes to think that we might die in our sleep, just as we are trying to go to sleep? Yet, the prayer wasn't terrifying as a child, but comforting instead. Perhaps it was the familiar rhythm of the words or perhaps it was the overall meaning that all was in God's hands or perhaps it was the fact that it ended with a litany of familiar and loved names: "And God bless Mommy and Daddy and ..."

It may seem silly by the light of day, but as my mind continued to race despite the early morning hours I thought about a rewrite for this classic prayer.

Here's what I came up with:

"Now I lay me
Down to sleep
I pray, Oh Lord
My mind to keep.
If it should churn
With me awake
Give it the grace
Thy calm to take."

The last two lines, "give it the grace/thy calm to take", fit nicely into one's natural rhythm of breathing making it convenient for constant inner prayer (for further explanation of this, click here for an article I wrote on prayer that has a couple paragraphs on constant inner prayer).

Eventually sleep arrived, and now, so have my granola and yogurt.

If this reinvented prayer should become a new prayer "classic," remember you heard it here first. :)