Perhaps I had heard the idea before and dismissed it, or maybe November 22nd was my first introduction. When I read Rick Hamlin’s devotional in Daily Guideposts, alphabetical prayers at bedtime struck me as a practice worth exploring.
Rather than counting innumerable sheep, 26 letters help Rick go to sleep. Family and friends are regularly included, but there are no rules. I’ve tested the method a few times, not to entice slumber but to facilitate praying.
As a child I had a hard time going to sleep. I’d toss and turn and pull the covers loose. Now it only takes a minute to drift off the first time, though second and third rounds are less predictable.
Thankfully, alphabetized praying is suitable in many venues. I recently had a nine o’clock dermatology appointment in Warner Robins but arrived too soon. At 8:15 the blinds were still closed at the walk-up window.
A notice said they would reopen that Monday morning, which followed Thanksgiving, at nine a.m. It seemed odd that no time was allowed for paperwork, but I returned to my truck to wait. My first thought was to crank up some classic country at Willie’s Roadhouse. Rick’s mention of prayer, however, interfered with the music.
Thirty minutes didn’t get me far into the alphabet, as my prayers tend to drift off course. I’m not sure what was covered in that half hour, but here are some things that come to mind now.
Abby, our first grandchild, gets dibs on A. With my tendency to quickly fall asleep, however, I’m thinking A should be for All our grandchildren. Otherwise Melanie and Megan will usually get left out and Walt won’t stand a chance.
Initially my inclination was to stick with people, but A reminds me to pray for America, something I admittedly neglect. And when I do remember, sometimes I make suggestions how God might handle matters, rather than asking what he desires from me.
Our nation has been divided before, severely at times, but voices of reason have traditionally prevailed. Such voices are dwindling in today’s politics. Servant leaders are often not electable. Others choose not to wade into the bitter quagmire that’s become the norm.
B is for the Bodrey family which our daughter Carrie married into. Then C brings up Callaway which covers Erin’s household. Seth would be way down the list, so I figure it’s best to remember him along with his sisters.
My mother, who is 96, deserves an earlier spot than M would allow, so I’ll include her at this point. And it’s essential I don’t forget my wife, who now has the stress of dealing with a 70 year old husband. As Dorothy said to her dog, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
D will stand for Dog today, especially for Harriet who faithfully accompanies me on each trip to the woods. Besides protecting me from squirrels, she’s an ideal confidant. Harriet listens attentively and seldom speaks.
There are several benefits to Rick Hamlin’s approach to prayer. It can be used to quickly mention a number of people or to elaborate on a few. Or we can let our minds wander through the letters and see what happens.
At 8:45 that Monday morning, I ambled into the lobby again, thinking the window might open early. The blind was was still closed and the waiting room empty, so I took a seat. That’s when I realized I was trying to register at Beltone Hearing Aids.
Nearby signage pointed me down the hall to Georgia Dermatology, where a nurse and I had a good laugh. I thought the mixup might be an omen of hearing aids which Jane has suggested I need. The nurse said that was possible, or it could be pointing toward new glasses. Twelve stitches later I headed home with a two-week excuse from yard work and washing dishes.
Praying the alphabet won’t appeal to everyone and I don’t know if I’ll use it long term. But when sleep won’t come, or you’re wide awake and passing time in your truck, I believe Rick’s method is worth a try.
After several starts, always beginning with A, I’ve not made it past D. For those of us who drift off easily, or whose minds are prone to wander, 26 letters present a challenge. In the early part of the ABCs, my prayers give way to slumbering ZZZZZZZZZs.
Sounds like a good plan. Maybe I will try it. Thanks Neil love your column.Grady Gassett
I like this idea of praying through the alphabet. Think I’ll give it a try.
I too read this in Guidepost then after trying probably once, forgot about it- I blame the busyness of the holidays, life, etc..and maybe being almost 70!! I will start again as is a good plan when the mind wants to wander. Blessings for a good night’s sleep!
Another good’un my Friend Neil. I think that I’ll give it a try on my
many nights of trying to get to sleep. p&B