Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

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.

Although I committed those words to my elementary-aged memory, repeating them at bedtime for many years, that prayer never seemed to compare to what I’d seen on T.V.

As a little girl, a significant portion of my television-watching repertoire included what I thought of as the “Prayer Channel” – men and women praying before studio audiences before, during and after Bible teachings. And with each spiritual segment, I became increasingly fascinated by that deeply mystical thing called prayer.

I was spellbound as men and women threw themselves on altars, checkbooks or cash in hand, as the body behind the pulpit declared that generous offerings were the key to financial abundance and physical healing. I was awestruck by those proclaiming, in the presence of strangers, the litany of problems plaguing their life, believing prayers spoken by a “righteous” preacher would open god’s ear of forgiveness.

I was mesmerized by the female minister – eyes tightly shut, right hand lifted toward the ceiling, left hand holding a microphone – as she made declarations on behalf of an emotionally broken audience, while tears cut through layers of eye makeup, leaving black trails down her cheeks.

I marveled at the guy who would look deep into the camera explaining that the only way to god was through the fervent prayer that took place while holding his “specially anointed” prayer cloth and vial of water.

And periodically television cameras would sweep the audience filled with men and woman weeping in seeming desperation. I pondered the stories connected to those who took the time to sit, anxiously awaiting “their moment”. The moment they had been hoping for: The moment when the brokenness surrounding every waking moment would disappear. The moment one of god’s “chosen” would say that life-changing prayer. The moment life would be characterized by happiness and peace.

 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.

Each night as I said my prayer, I wondered if it was “enough”. I didn’t feel like one of “god’s chosen” – one who could make someone pass out by placing an “anointed” hand on a distressed forehead. Besides, I was just a kid and kids didn’t have direct lines of communication to the god so many were trusting to “fix it”.

My young heart wanted to believe in their “power”. I prayed for the opportunity to meet just one of those evangelists so they could “fix” our family. I thought about the coins in my piggy bank, wondering if I should count them up and send to the address that always flashed on the television screen. Sometimes I lifted my hands, closed my eyes and attempted to pray with passion similar to what they conjured, waiting for what the T.V. ministers had to leap through the airwaves and land in my heart.

But alas, there was nothin’.

As I watched teems of “broken” people, I began to think life was meant for desperation and suffering. There never seemed to be an end to the people in need. Lament was never-ending. Smiles were lost somewhere in the universe.

I decided the only way to go to god was in a state of brokenhearted defeat. And I wondered if I really wanted what appeared to be connected to that deeply mystical thing called prayer.

Unsure of which way to go, I stopped watching the “Prayer Channel” and decided to stick with my spiritual poem, hoping my commitment to reciting the words would be “enough”.

 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.

Fast forward 2.5 decades. My prayer has changed. My childhood poetic prayer has turned into an adult conversation to the “bestie” I call God (also affectionately known by me as Spirit or Universe). Yes, I said it. I talk to God as my Friend.

I share my hopes and dreams. Sometimes I cry, most often I laugh. We talk about what I’m having for dinner and what steps I need to take to accomplish my goals.

I’ve thought about a prayer cloth, but I know I don’t need it. I’ve seen others offer vials of “special” water, but I graciously decline.

I have realized that, for me, prayer is about choice. I choose happiness over despair. I choose joy over brokenness. I choose to set my path, trusting the Spirit inside – as we continuously engage in conversation – to guide me through this life.


Sherry Samuels – Writing: The Final Frontier. Although just entering her mid thirties, Sherry has seen and experienced a great deal in this life and knows the rest of the journey, however long it may be, will be spent writing about the precious (and not so precious) moments. Enjoying everything from opportunities to strut her stuff in her rainbow-colored tutu to a lazy day with a Golden Girls marathon, Sherry really is a touch of sugar, a pinch (or three) of spice and everything (most days anyway) nice. Sherry grew up in the Midwest, has spent the last 13 years becoming a southerner and now looks forward to the potential to take on a whole new region in this great land…or another. And for now, you can find Sherry Dancing in the Rainbow on her blog.

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One Comment

  1. Sandi
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    This is absolutely beautiful.

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