I say a prayer for the boys every night, often after they've all fallen asleep, floppy toy soldiers in the battle between night and day. My prayer has a rhythm, an almost constant refrain, though the words change barely from night to night.
Twice in the past several weeks, I've been struck with the thought that I should be investing more into my prayers. Once was on Speaking of Faith, in a show about the spirituality of parenting. Rabbi Sandy Sasso mentions the importance of the nightly prayer ritual, not so much as to connect with God, but to have a moment of silence to reflect on the day and on our lives. The second instance, oddly, was while listening to an agnostic on NPR talk about the importance of prayer, quoting Oswald Chambers: "it's not so much that prayer changes things as that prayer changes me -- and then I change things" and referring to it as a daily reflection and act of compassion.
As I pray at night, I wonder if it is too rote, and because I believe in the power and contemplation of language, I wonder if the act of recording it might not make it more thoughtful, might help me to spend more of my daily measure of presence into the relationship, both with children and with God; with my own turbulent soul. Many nights Truman, who is almost always the last to fall asleep, protests, "no, no prayer!" and I think it is because he wants more of me, more silence, so I whisper the prayer, holding my hand on his head, on Everett's back, on Monroe's shoulder. And sometimes I go down to the living room, praying quietly to myself as I step down each stair.
With this first night's prayer and with this page of collected prayers I will record, whether for a few days or for a compendium of days, prayers for my boys. Use them, or read them, or do not pay any attention at all; for it is not in the sharing but in the creating that I have heaped great gifts of emotional wellness into the space between my heart and my lungs.