It was my ritual: taking a warm bubble bath, putting on fuzzy cotton PJ's, brushing my teeth, kissing my dad on the cheek, and heading off to bed. My mom would guide me into my room and sit right next to me as I hopped into bed. Her loving part in my bedtime routine sent me to sleep with assurance. She snuggled the covers up to my chin, tucked them tight to my sides, kissed my forehead, and whispered those soft words, "Say your prayers."
It's a shame such childhood comfort can fade, but it did. Dullness and apathy replaced such tender bedtime moments. Most nights I'm exhausted. But one evening, my dreamy withdrawal hovers far out of reach.
No matter what I try, a feeling of intense restlessness lingers. My mind bounces from one thought to another. Stillness eludes. The endless tasks waiting at sunrise won't be easy, and I feel destined to have a troubled day.
It's the last thing in the world I want to do, but I climb out of bed. My answer's not coming from my down pillow, so I try elsewhere. I head to the quietest place in the house, my bathroom. I plop down on the floor next to a low window. The night sky is amazing. Gorgeous, shimmering stars radiate within a deep, onyx-black expanse. Looking at that dark beauty reminds me of God and His boundless power. I stare out at my own personal vista, thinking solely about God.
I hadn't set out to pray, but I guess you could say that's what I did. Though instead of my usual well-thought-out prayers - affirmations of universal truths and spiritual facts - this was different. I wasn't giving out a prayer; I was taking it in.
This powerful, wordless prayer enveloped me in God's warmth and protection. To describe the resulting feeling as peaceful would be an understatement. All worries left. There were no thoughts except ones of spiritual appreciation and blissful contentment. I went to bed, climbed under the covers with a true smile on my face, and gently fell asleep.
The following night, I try to recreate the experience. I sit by the window and silently commune with God. It works! Focusing my thought on God creates a perfect avenue to access that divine state of peacefulness. I truly listen to God. Calmly and easily I take in His spiritual inspiration. It's not labored or intense, but open and receptive.
The third night, (I can't begin to imagine how) I forget all about what I have been doing the previous two nights. Fatigue drops me into bed, where I expect to be sound asleep before I hit the pillow. Nothing happens. I toss back and forth across the bed. I try to find the perfect spot. "What's going on?" I wonder. Then suddenly I realize - I forgot to say good night with God!
Within seconds I reach my new "prayer closet," and it's here that I return, night after night, to release the cares and concerns of the day for priceless moments of quiet, one-to-one time with God. Inspiration and serenity are guaranteed.
In fact, the more I turn to God in this nighttime prayer, the better I feel and the sounder I sleep. Graphic or even violent nightmare scenarios no longer play out during my sleep. And that frightening ache so often felt early in the morning is gone.
Dreams are tied to thought; clear the thinking, and dreams correspond. But what's less apparent is the way that one's thinking affects the daytime experience as well. Yet, it's so similar. Improve the thought, improve the experience - night or day. And where better to turn for good thoughts than in prayer to God? That's the special thing about prayer. It straightens out thinking better than anything else, no matter what time of day you do it.
My childhood bedtime ritual is back, and I'm not letting go of it. Only now it's my Father-Mother God tucking me in at night. He hugs me with divine Love. She kisses me with spiritual inspiration. These precious, prayerful moments are a gift, both to and from, my one, divine Parent. In them I feel completely safe and snuggled, as I say good night with God.
The Lord will command
his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night
his song shall be with me.