As I write for this month’s magazine we have just passed the equinox. Now there will be more hours of darkness than light every day. The nights will grow longer until the shortest day on the 21st of December.
It was this which promoted my choice for ‘Prayer of the Month’ for October.
Lighten our darkness,
Lord, we pray,
and in your great mercy
defend us from all perils and dangers of this night,
for the love of your only Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
This prayer is traditionally prayed at Compline, Night Prayer, the last of the daily offices. I often pray Compline in my study just before going to bed - usually at around midnight. It is a good way of ending the day.
In this prayer we ask God to bring light to our darkness. Not simply the physical darkness, but the spiritual darkness. It is firstly a prayer for guidance. We ask God to help us to see the way ahead, to see the path that we are called to walk.
This prayer is secondly a prayer for self-knowledge. When I pray this prayer I also ask God for insight into my own heart. I ask Christ to illuminate the hidden corners of my heart, that I may see my sins and failings, my character flaws as Christ sees them; and Christ sees them truly, but also compassionately. We cannot hide our flaws and failures from Christ, but Christ looks on us with eyes of love and compassion.
Having asked God for enlightenment and insight, the prayer moves on. We ask God of His great mercy to protect us through the night. I suppose this is a grown-up version of “As I lay me down to sleep …” When I pray this prayer I go to sleep having put myself and those I love into the hands of God.
Every part of this prayer, every request, as with all Christian prayer, is made, “for the love of Christ.” We can approach the Father in prayer because of Christ, and we ask the Father to look on us for the sake of Christ who loves us, who died and rose again for us.
Every Christian prayer, every Christian act, is all held within the love of Christ.
God bless you,