As the darkness descends welcome to a short time of night time prayer and reflection.
Find a comfortable and familiar place to sit and reflect on the day that is coming to an end, beginning with a few slow deep breaths.
As you sit and reflect become aware of the presence of God
Recall the day and give thanks for the good things that have happened.
Offer to God those things that have distressed you, caused confusion and generally unsettled you during the day.
Still yourself and say:
+The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end. Amen.
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
We say or sing this traditional evening hymn
Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That you, with steadfast love,
would keep your watch around us while we sleep.
From evil dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Tread underfoot our deadly foe
That we no sinful thought may know.
O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, your only Son;
And Holy Spirit, by whose breath
Our souls are raised to life from death.
Psalm 4 is a favourite reading for night time prayer. It has beautiful words that ring with comfort, stilling worries and bringing peace. But reading through the Psalm you realise all is not well. There are issues causing serious troubles for David. After success things are going wrong and he flees. In today’s vocabulary I wonder how near the mark the expression ‘You are only as good as your last success, performance, game’ and so on is. We live in a fickle world where there’s a thin line between success and failure, where there can be insatiable appetites.
At this time of the day it can be good to recognise, either out loud or in the silence of our heart, where we have missed the mark.
Most merciful God, we confess to you, before the whole company of heaven and one another,
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed and in what we have failed to do.
Forgive us our sins, heal us by your Spirit and raise us to new life in Christ. Amen
It is also good to bring before the Lord those events where you feel misunderstood, mistreated or where the tongue of social media is cutting: ‘commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.’
Slowly and prayerfully read Psalm 4
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness;
you set me at liberty when I was in trouble;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
How long will you nobles dishonour my glory;
how long will you love vain things and seek after falsehood?
But know that the Lord has shown me his marvellous kindness;
when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.
Stand in awe, and sin not;
commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness
and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many that say, ‘Who will show us any good?’
Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
more than when their corn and wine and oil increase.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for it is you Lord,
only, who make me dwell in safety.
We share the words from St Luke’s Gospel (Luke 2.29-32):
The Song of Simeon
Now Lord you let your servant go in peace: your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people;
A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.
as we stand at the foot of the cross of your Son,
help us to see and know your love for us,
so that in humility, love and joy, we may place at his feet
all that we have and all that we are;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven...
In peace we will lie down and sleep;
for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety.
Abide with us, Lord Jesus,
for the night is at hand and the day is now past.
As the night watch looks for the morning, so do we look for you, O Christ.
+May God bless us,
that in us may be found love and humility,
obedience and thanksgiving,
discipline, gentleness and peace. Amen.
Have a good night’s rest.