Why is prayer in the night so important?

Why Is Prayer in the Night So Important?

Sunday Scripture

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.

Amen”

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.

Why is prayer in the night so important?

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.

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What I’m Reading Now

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72 thoughts on “Why Is Prayer in the Night So Important?”

  1. For the last several years, I have opened up The Book of Common Prayer each day as part of my devotional time and found the prayers to be so timely. They are just beautiful. I think I shall add this book to my list to read as it sounds like a meaningful one.

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  2. I often find that reciting scripture helps to calm me and put me to sleep. Recently I memorized 1 Peter 1:3-9–beautiful verses of praise and encouragement. It’s only seven verses, but frequently by the end of it I’m ready to doze off. Sometimes I don’t even finish!

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  3. I have not thought about the beautiful Compline for years. Thank you for reminding me of it. I typically read Scripture in bed at night. I have started a practice of meditating for a short time after reading, then praying before sleep. This nightly ritual has helped cure my insomnia and put me in a much better frame of mind.

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  4. Michele, this has brought to mind the importance of the prayers found in The Book of Common Prayer. I no longer attend the Episcopal church, but the prayers and supplications in this beautiful book are so moving and inspiring, I’m now determined to get back to them.
    Blessings!

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  5. Good Sunday morning to you, Michele. I totally agree with you about this book. We are getting ready to start this book in the Renovare book club. I’ve already started it. Thank you for your review.

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  6. This sounds like an excellent book, Michele. (Your recommendations usually are.) Aging has sometimes made sleep more unpredictable and sometimes I pray and other times get up for about 20-30 minutes and read. (Sometimes I get so involved with praying that I awaken even more.) Those sleep issues are not really about concerns, but whatever happens during this senior season that affects sleep patterns. Thanks!

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  7. I think I probably pray the MOST in the middle of the night. If I’m wide awake at night that means I’m worrying and obsessing over something (usually something I can’t do anything about) and prayer does help– sometimes anyway.

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  8. What a beautiful and comforting prayer. I’ve tried to make it a habit that if I wake during the night with someone on my mind, I pray for them until I fall asleep again. I believe there’s a reason God brought them to mind. Especially, as you point out, because during the quiet hours of the night is when we often struggle alone.

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  9. Even without worry or anxiety, I often find myself awake in the night. Sometimes my thoughts process things from the day, but sometimes I deliberately use the time to pray. I love those mentions in the psalms of communing with God during the night. I’m not at all familiar with the Book of Common Prayer.

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  10. Bill & I have read (and reread) Tish Harrison Warren’s book “Liturgy of the Ordinary” and can’t wait to read this latest one! Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. I re-read Liturgy of the Ordinary when I heard that Tish had another book coming out, and I am sure that I’ll be re-reading this one at some point. She is a skilled writer and a gifted theologian.

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  11. This sounds like an interesting book. I’ve definitely found it helpful to turn to prayer if I wake up in the middle of the night. As you say, it’s a good reminder of who’s in charge.

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  12. I usually pray at night as it is the most peaceful part of the day….Thanks so much for stopping by!!
    Stay safe, healthy and happy!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

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  13. Thank you for sharing this book, Michelle. I absolutely love the prayer you shared. I grew up in a church where liturgy prayer was dominant, however have not brought into in my adult life. But would like to now.

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    1. I am so curious about the use of the Book of Common Prayer in the church gathered–as well as for private devotional use. Good to hear about your own experience with it. We are certainly a mixed gathering here!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Michele, what a great post. Prayer in the night . . . I usually find myself praying for one or two people after I’ve crawled into bed and turned off the light for the night. When I switch from my back to my side, I pray Psalm 46:10 asking God to calm every part of who I am. And if I’m still awake, I think about His attributes. When I awake in the night, I pray for whoever is on my mind at that time. My favorite time for meeting with God is early in the morning, but I like to close out my day with Him too.

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  15. Years and years ago – I was sharing with our small church body how tired I was and not getting sleep because I was up hours each night praying for my youngest. A dear brother stood and said, “Sister, I want you to get some rest – I will take the night watch and pray for your son.” Pure gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Over the years (especially once I started waking up more at night as I aged), I’ve started praying for people God brings to my mind when I wake up and can’t fall right back to sleep. I figure that if God woke me, he must have a reason.

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  17. My husband was brought up in the Episcopal church, so I’m familiar with The Book of Common Prayer–the older one. It is filled with wonderful prayers based on Scripture. I’ll have to check out this book. When I’m wakeful or troubled at any time, the Psalms are where I camp out for hope, encouragement, and seeing that I’m not alone !

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    1. Yes, I do love the psalms for that, and I really feel the need to look into all these different versions of the Book of Common Prayer. I remember reading that Madeleine L’Engle was grumpy about some of the changes in more recent editions…

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  18. My nighttime prayers are often some of my most serious and authentic ones because that’s when my mind is least reined in. ha. Tish’s book sounds like a great one for any library on prayer!

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  19. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

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  20. Psalm 42:8 is such a beautiful and comforting verse, Michele. I’ve had seasons of insomnia due to life circumstances and others due to biology. Prayer has been a common source of solace during both … I’m so grateful our heavenly Father is One who neither slumbers nor sleeps.

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  21. I love that BIble verse and the book sounds interesting. I do sometimes struggle to fall back asleep when waking in the early hours and I don’t always think about praying – but it’s a good time to do so. Next time I’ll try and remember that. #PoCoLo

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  22. My brain goes into overdrive at night and I often have panic attacks which are only relieved by prayer and faith. He is the light in the dark. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAnd Memories

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  23. Thanks for sharing this book with us, Michele. I heard a minister say once that the Lord may have us awake for a reason in the night…to pray. Now, when I’m awake, I always pray. My twin sister and several others have reference some of these Bible verses as watch times. Many times they are at 3 and 6 AM.

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  24. I do often find that my most intimate moments with God happen in the nighttime hours as I drift off to sleep. As a person who has always struggled with healthy sleep, I have started living my life in accordance with the motto, “If it is out of my hands, I need to put it out of my head.” I remind myself of this every night so I can sleep restfully and peacefully without worries weighing on my soul. If I cannot control something, I have learned to immediately hand it over to my higher power. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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  25. As I’ve told you before God is not in my life and sometimes I struggle to understand the contents of the posts, but I think it shouldn’t matter what ever time of day one prays or gives thanks. Thanks for linking with #pocolo

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