It’s almost eight o’clock, and we’ve just finished reading a chapter of The Far Side of the Loch. I close the book. “Okay, time for God-blesses. Who’s first?”

“Me!” Jane says and immediately launches into her nightly litany: “God bless Mama. God bless Dadda. God bless Jack.” She goes on to bless the kitties, her baby brothers, her friend with leukemia, her godfather’s dad who has cancer, and our sponsored child in Guatemala (in that order). “Amen!” she says.

Then she curls up in Doug’s lap, and I say her blessing, from Jeremiah 17.

Blessed are those who hope in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted beside water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves shall stay green.
In the year of drought it is not anxious,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.

This is the verse we prayed for her at her baptism when she was just two months old.

When I’ve finished praying this verse, Doug says, “Jane Elizabeth, may you be like that tree, rooted and grounded in God’s love.” Then he marks her forehead with his finger in the shape of a cross. “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Then it’s Jack’s turn. He’s been saying God-blesses at bedtime since he could string three words together. “Glod bess Mama,” he used to say. “Glod bess Dadda.” I’m not sure when we started praying his baptismal verse over him. I don’t even remember who gave us the idea. But it’s one of my favorite daily rituals, this bedtime blessing of each of our children with the verses we prayed for them at their baptisms.

After Jack says his God-blesses, I pull him into my lap. He’s seven, but I still cuddle him, will continue to cuddle him as long as he’ll let me.

“Jack Ireton,” Doug says, and prays his blessing from Ephesians 3.

When Doug’s through, I mark Jack’s forehead with a cross. “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Then it’s hugs and kisses and bedtime.

These bedtime blessings are not the only prayers I pray for my children, but they’re the ones I pray most often. Night after night, I pray that Jack will know God’s love, that Jane will trust God’s love, that Luke will follow God all the days of his life, that Ben will hope always in the Lord.

Night after night, I send my children off to sleep with the words of Scripture spoken over them, prayed over them.

And night after night, I pray that God will honor our prayers, will answer them, will bring these four precious children to faith and hope and love.