Prayer for the Month

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 well-known Church of England prayer goes back to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer where it was set as the Third Collect at Evensong. In Common Worship we find it in the order of Night Prayer (Compline), a short service, to pray at the very end of the day before sleep.

 

It is a very good prayer for Christ’s protection for ourselves and for our families through the silent hours of the night. We put ourselves into Christ’s hands at the end of the day, and having put ourselves into His hands we can sleep safely and securely, confident in the love of Christ.

 

I write these words just a few days before the end of October when the clocks go back and we face the long, dark nights of winter. It seems to me that this is also a very good prayer for us to pray in these weeks when we see so little of the sun.

 

We ask for Christ to guide us through these dark and cheerless days when the night can at times seem to creep into our hearts. When I pray Compline, especially in the winter months, I usually light a candle before praying the brief service, a symbol of the light for which I pray.

 

As well as being a prayer for Christ’s protection in the dark days of winter and through the night, I always remember, when saying this prayer, the imagery of St John’s Gospel. In John, the night has a spiritual meaning. Night is a time for evil - when Judas leaves the last Supper to betray Jesus, John simply comments, “And it was night” (John 13:30).

 

And so this prayer is also a plea to our Saviour for protection from evil, from all things, visible and invisible which may hurt the body or harm the soul; a prayer for ourselves and for those we love.

 

May Christ our light bless and keep you,

 

God bless,

 

Tim