How many nights have you woken up with a jump to see your child standing next to your bed, whispering “I had a bad dream”? Or you wake up to find you are squished in your bed with a teary little person hugging into you.
I have four children, so let’s just say this has happened at least four times. What do you do?
As someone who suffered a lot of bad dreams as a child (and into adulthood), I have sympathy for them, but I also like my sleep! It took me many years to learn how to address my bad dreams, and I want to see my children take control of the situation a lot quicker than I did.
When I wake to that familiar phrase, we have a cuddle until tears cease and a little whispered conversation in the dark. Then I say “Should we pray?”
When they are little, I pray first and then get them to pray a simple version, but as they get older, I ask if we should pray and then wait for them to start. It is quite amazing hearing some of the prayers that come out of them.
Some of the statements we declare in our prayers:
- Thank you, God, that the dream isn’t real and I don’t have to be afraid. (2 Tim 1:7)
- Thank you, God, that You love me. (John 15:9)
- Thank you, God, that You are stronger than any bad dream. (Rom 8:31)
- We tell these bad dreams to go away in Jesus name. (2 Cor 10:5)
- Thank you, God, that I don’t need to be afraid, because You are here with me. (1 Pet 5:7
- Thank you, God, for giving me peace and helping me sleep. (Ps 4:8)
We end thanking God for good things and talking about good things we like. ‘Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ Phil 4:8
I remember one of my children saying, “But, I prayed for no bad dreams and I still had a bad dream!” It’s important to acknowledge that prayer doesn’t always get answered how we want it, and that sometimes we need to keep asking. There have also been times that I have gone into their rooms after they are asleep and prayed over them and their room on their behalf.
It is important to mention that if nightmare situations are getting worse, you should reach out for professional help, as there can be underlying issues that need addressing.
As we teach our children to declare God’s Word over their lives from a young age, it becomes a natural reaction for them as they grow and face challenges on their own. Eventually you are no longer invited to those middle of the night prayer meetings!
Yvonne is Generations Connection Coordinator for Crossway Baptist Church. Yvonne and her husband Justin have four children ranging from primary to young adults.