Child’s Nighttime Prayer


Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord

my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord

my soul to take.

~child's bedtime prayer ~

~18th century~

According to David F. Coady

The bed time prayer first appeared in The New England Primer...The New England Primer was a text book used in public schools in very early America. 


This is the prayer I grew up with, and I suppose it did play a real part in impressing my young mind with the brevity of life. Some people think this is bad. But then the same people must want to remove other childhood experiences from children. I remember when my grandfather “Daddy Ford” died though I was very young. After that I never passed through the living room of their house without remembering him “laying in state” in his coffin there. Likewise, later, when my “Uncle T.W.” died and his coffin was placed in the formal “sitting room” at my grandfather Pate’s house I would always remember his coffin where the big sofa for guests to sit routinely set. These people were dear to me and their passing made me keenly aware of the brevity of life.

Another person said:

"My mother thought the words were too "scary" for a young child and substituted the following for the last two lines:

Pray guard me all throughout the night

And wake me with Your morning light.”

This serves to illustrate my point about some people being concerned about the prayer putting a child to bed with thoughts of death.


From Wikipedia, on the Internet I read:

The Christian child's prayer is typically short, rhyming or has a memorable tune. It is said before bedtime, to give thanks for a meal or as a nursery rhyme. Many of these prayers have a long tradition and obscure origin. Some adult prayers are equally popular with children such as the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31, Matthew 7:12), the Doxology, the Serenity Prayer, John 3:16 and, for older children, The Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23.


This is listed as "A Child's Bedtime Prayer" in the 1784 edition of The New England Primer. Other editions have variations. In the 1777 edition, line 1 reads "Now I lay me down to take my sleep". In the 1814 edition, line 2 reads "I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep"…

The first line is uttered by John Wayne in "The High and the Mighty" while looking at runway lights in the shape of the cross. The first line is in Henry David Thoreau's 1859 essay "A Plea for Captain John Brown".


Since modern culture is less comfortable discussing death with children, lines 3 and 4 are often replaced with one of the following (or sometimes added as lines 5 and 6):

May angels watch me through the night

and wake me with the morning light.


Guard me while I sleep tonight,

And wake me safe at dawn's first light.


Dear Jesus, please be at my side

To light and guard and rule and guide.


God bless Mommy; Daddy, too,

And help me to always be true to you.


Thy love guard me through the night

And wake me with the morning light.


Bless Me Lord

Bless me Lord, this night I pray,

Keep me safe till dawn of day,

Bless my mother and my father,

Bless my sister and my brother,

Bless each little girl and boy,

Bless them all for heavenly joy.


Father in Heaven

Father in heaven, hear my prayer;

Keep me in your loving care.

Be my guide in all I do;

Bless all those who love me too.


I think there might have been some divine inspiration behind the original nighttime prayer. One of the reasons I think this is that through a search of alternative prayers offered, I discovered that the occult has not been reluctant to offer their versions even using the method of channeling their preferences through the ouija board. If the evil spirits are against the prayer I am for it. – Michael Ford

            Jonsquill Ministries

P. O. Box 752

Buchanan, Georgia 30113