The adventure of putting a toddler down for a good night's sleep is at once completely routine and completely unpredictable. Every night you know the beginning, middle and endgame of bedtime but any one thing can change at any one moment. For example, my toddler has added a "lay on the floor and be silly with Mommy and Daddy" time to our routine between teeth brushing and nighttime prayer.
One immovable part of our routine, no matter the silliness our toddler brings to the table, is the time we set aside for praying for our daughter every night. Even as she wiggles and giggles and tries to bait us into a few more minutes of playtime, we keep our eyes closed and heads bowed. We've done this since Day One, but as she grows it feels increasingly more significant.
Up until now, we've been largely able to shield our daughter from everything harmful. In the grand scheme of things, it's not too long before she's exposed to mean girls and gossip, untruths and unkindness. When Mommy and Daddy aren't there to protect, prayer is the best thing we've got.
Jesus prayed (Mark 1:35). His disciples prayed (Acts 1:12-14). As followers of Christ we are commanded to pray (Phil. 4:6; Rom. 12:12). Prayer is a powerful tool in opening our hearts. And in the deepest parts of our hearts, we want so many things for our little ones.
We want them protected from evil, and we want them guarded from hurt that's too strong.
We want them to be successful.
We want them to feel loved, valued, and cared for.
We want them to know their worth as a soul created on purpose.
We want our babies to know they can fly high if that's what they want to do.
We want them to believe that there's not a sight they can't set themselves on that they can't achieve.
We want them to shatter glass ceilings if that's their thing, and we want them to know bravery, courage, and integrity.
When I visualize prayer, I think of the scene in Deathly Hallows II when McGonagall puts the shield of light over Hogwarts (photo below). Even though the Death Eaters' attacks eventually break through the dome of protection, it took them a lot longer with the light shield. And even then, good won. Light won. Evil died. Darkness fled.
We want everything good for our kids, and as a parent you discover pretty early on that you'll do almost anything to make your child laugh and to see her happy. The simplest and best way I know to do that is to lift our daughter up to the God who created her and ask Him to protect her, to guide her, to love her, and to help her love Him. Then, and only then, do we feel a little better about sending our baby beyond ourselves.