Little Litanies: Psalm 23

I’m teaching my five-year-old this version of Psalm 23 that I wrote/mashed up. It’s a mix of influences from the NIV and the MSG, and some simplifications of my own invention. I wanted to create a version that a very young child can connect with, but that retains some of the beauty and imagery of the original and can serve as a touchstone prayer for comfort and encouragement and a reminder of the loving presence of God. I also wanted it to be accessible to a kid who is not being raised in an agrarian society, and for whom metaphors are not yet obvious (1).

God, you’re my shepherd.
I am your sheep.(2)
You give me everything I need.

You let me rest in green meadows
And drink from peaceful waters.
You refresh my soul.
You guide me so that I can honor you.

Even if I’m in a dark, scary place,
I’m not afraid because you are with me.
You comfort and encourage me.

You prepare a party for me,
And ask me to invite my enemies. (3)
You put oil on my head. (4)
My blessings are overflowing.

My whole life is full of your beauty and love,
And my home is with you. (5)



  1. For instance, just recently I had drawn a picture of a cucumber wearing a t-shirt that said “Eat me” and put it in her lunchbox. Her response: “Why did you give me a picture of a cucumber with no pants!?!...<a pause for consideration>...OOOooh, because you put cucumbers in my lunch and you wanted me to eat them!”

  2. This line is not in the original Psalm. I added it, again because the metaphor is not obvious to a digital-age five-year-old.

  3. Yep, I’m taking a liberty here. I’m mixing in the sermon on the mount (Matt 5:44). I used to think this line was about gloating. Now I think it’s about inviting.

  4. My kid is familiar with this concept, because I anoint her head with essential oils regularly.

  5. These two lines are much like Eugene Peterson’s in the MSG.


Litany for Kindergarten

Oh God, ever-present and ever-loving
Be near to our little ones
As they venture out
Into the wide world.

May their first steps be confident,
Their first interactions pleasant,
Their first impressions positive,
Their first lessons lasting.

We have tried to raise them well, to teach them to be
     Brave, and
And to instill in them their belovedness
     By you
     And by us.

Bless us with wisdom to parent them well in this new season,
Neither hovering nor disconnected;
Attuned, but acknowledging and encouraging their emerging selves;
Gentle, caring, and patient always.

We ask you to bless and keep them
To protect them from harm
To keep them from temptation,
And rescue them from evil.

Be a friend to them, present and accessible.

We entrust them to you in the hours that they are out of our care,
The same as we entrust them to you when they are with us.
Again and again, we entrust them to you.
Their whole lives long and beyond, we entrust them to you.



Little Litanies: Bedtime

Here's a simple, memorable rhyming bedtime prayer for kids. If you ask me, loads better than the "if I should die before I wake" business that's been striking fear into the hearts of children for a few hundred years.

Jesus, thank you for this day.
Jesus, thank you for the way
You cared for us and kept us safe;
Gave us food and gave us play.

Jesus, thank you for your love;
And while we’re sleeping, dreaming of
Tomorrow’s fun and today’s fresh air,
Your love we breathe; Your peace we share.

Little Litanies: Help, Jesus!

In this kid-friendly litany, kids are invited to say or shout “Help, Jesus!” as the simple refrain. The grown-up reader could use a hand signal to communicate to the kids that it’s time to say their part.

Jesus, we know that you love and care for us and hear us when we pray:
Help, Jesus!

In all things, at all times, we can pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we feel scared, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we feel sad, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we have misbehaved and gotten in trouble, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When are sick or have hurt ourselves, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we have hurt others and need forgiveness, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When others have hurt us and we need to forgive them, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we have a grumpy, bad attitude, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we are tempted to disobey our parents or teachers, we pray:
Help, Jesus!
When we have to do hard things, we pray:
Help, Jesus!

Our whole lives long, we want to remember you and pray:
Help Jesus!