Keep and preserve all of us from every evil, sickness, and grief.
Sickness and grief come to all of us before we put many candles on our birthday cakes. The healthiest will catch colds, stomach bugs, or sprain ankles. Grief is inevitable for anyone who loves; it’s the natural response to loss. Perhaps that’s why they are included in this child’s prayer – an acknowledgement of the difficulties that come into every life.
What about evil? Is it an inevitable part of being human, just like sickness and grief? Judging by the lynchings, genocides, mass shootings, and the prevalence of physical abuse, the answer is yes. Evil can touch our lives at any point. Very young children may not understand evil, but I believe they are more than capable of recognizing and being damaged by it.
My first read on keep and preserve all of us from every evil is a prayer for protection from something external to me. My second read: keep and preserve all of us from becoming evil, from visiting evil upon others. The first reading is a child’s one, the second for those of us a few years past nursery school. I’m old enough to recognize my own capacity for evil, and to pray there will never come a time when that capacity is put to use.
Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil…
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil…
Please, God, guard my soul from evil without and from evil within.
[For more in this series, click prayer at night above]