If you are a person whose eyes are open and watching in the wee hours, if sleep sometimes eludes you because you aren’t sure who’s actually in charge when you aren’t, you may need words to remind you of the large truth that God’s sovereignty, goodness, and love are in effect, even in the hours of darkness, even in the midst of chaos and pain. Prayer in the night is both historical and biblical. With twenty-five references in the Psalms alone, we find the writers seeking counsel, crying out, meditating, and remembering God–at night!
Consciously turning to nighttime prayer reminds our hearts that the same God who was in charge during the daylight hours has not nodded off or left his post. Because he is sleepless, you can sleep.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.”Psalm 42:8
Prayer in the Night
The reading life has introduced me to resources and spiritual practices I would never have encountered otherwise tucked here into my little corner of evangelicalism on this country hill in Maine. Recently, I’ve been enriched by Tish Harrison Warren’s knowledge of and love for the Book of Common Prayer, specifically the prayer known as “Compline,” part of night time services in liturgical traditions:
“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake.
Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep guides readers through Compline, line by line, acknowledging that night time is often the backdrop for suffering, weeping, or affliction. Warren’s offering is far from a pat answer or one more theological text book on the problem of evil. Written from her own experience of grief and devastating loss, she asks the question: Can we really trust a God who allows bad things to happen to his children? She invites readers to embrace our own vulnerability–which is especially apparent to us in the night-time hours.
A combination of spontaneous prayer and historical, inherited, written prayers are helping to frame my own conversational life with God. Sometimes, words come easily, but when they do not, this nighttime prayer offers an outline, reminding me of all the people in my life who need the attention of the tending, blessing, soothing, and shielding God who never sleeps.
How about you?
Do you sense a particular need to connect with God at certain times of the day?
What is your own night time ritual for handing yourself over to the care of God while you sleep?
Know that you are in my prayers,
Consciously turning to nighttime prayer reminds our hearts that the same God who was in charge during the daylight hours has not nodded off or left his post. Because he is sleepless, you can sleep.Tweet
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What I’m Reading Now
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