Is the 'Now I lay me down to sleep prayer …' in the Bible?

The well-known "Now I lay me down to sleep ..." prayer is not in the Bible. It is children's rhyme dating back as far as the 1700s. Many children learn this version:

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.

The overall idea of the poem is an understanding that we want and expect God to take care of our souls if we believe in Him. However, it is not completely in line with what Scripture tells us about the security of our souls.

Ephesians 1:13–14 tells us plainly how the salvation of our souls is secured in Christ Jesus: "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."

Our souls' salvation is secured by Jesus and sealed by the Holy Spirit from the moment of belief. We need not ask God to keep or take our souls. They are His already.

Teaching children by rote memorization is a long-held tradition and is still used in some forms today. Rhymes and poems are very effective in that kind of teaching. Charlotte Mason, a 19th Century British educator and author, called recitation "the fine art of beautiful and perfect speaking" (Charlotte Mason, Home Education, "Recitation: The Children's Art," p. 223). And certainly this is how children often learn, through repetition and rhyme.

However, the expediency of this rhyme could confuse young and old on the security of salvation as a constant assurance of our faith. Hebrews 10:19–23 exhorts us to fully embrace this assurance: "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."

God promised and is faithful to do all He says, including keeping our souls until the day we are fully united with Him in heaven.

Jesus provided a model prayer that is often and easily memorized and maintains the theological correctness that can guide a person's prayers their whole life, from Matthew 6:9–13:

"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."

Related Truth:

What is faith in Jesus? What does it mean to have faith in Jesus?

Does the Bible teach eternal security?

How are we supposed to pray?

What types of prayer are mentioned in the Bible?

What is the Lord's Prayer? How is the Lord's Prayer a model for our prayers?

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Truth about Prayer

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