In the final hours of a hectic day, sometimes it’s all we can do to get the kids to bed, or rinse the dinner dishes, or whisper a quick prayer before crawling under the covers. And then the alarm is set for tomorrow, when we’ll do it all over again.
Believers of generations past had their own cares, too. The good news is they’ve left behind several reassuring examples of their nighttime prayers, below.
Aside from many wonderful examples in Scripture, some of those prayers flowed from the hearts and pens of Puritan pastors like Lewis Bayly (1575–1631) and Robert Parker (1564–1614). We can relate to their simple desire to know God better. Still other prayers were originally found in Luther’s or Calvin’s writings, or in a collection from the early church called the Apostolic Constitutions. In some cases, the prayers lay undiscovered for generations, written but forgotten in obscure volumes.
Until now. Recently collected in Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans and Fount of Heaven: Prayers of the Early Church, these kinds of prayers today offer us a blueprint for devotional prayer. Their words are relevant even for those of us with the busiest schedules. Because what these saints prayed, so can we.
Here are a few examples:
1. Refresh me tonight, Lord
Set apart to me this night’s rest, Lord, that I may enjoy your sweet blessing and benefit.
With this refreshing sleep, enable me to walk before you, doing the good works you have appointed. And while I sleep, you who are the keeper of Israel, you who neither slumber nor sleep, watch over me in your holy providence.
Protect me from all dangers, so that neither the evil angels of Satan, nor any wicked enemy may have any power to do me harm. Knowing that your name is a strong tower of defense to all who trust you, I commit myself and all that belong to me unto your holy protection and custody.
And if it is your will to call for me in my sleep, Lord, have mercy upon me and receive my soul into your heavenly kingdom. But if you are pleased to add more days to my life, make those days even better than before. Wean my mind from the love of the world and worldly vanities, and cause me more and more to talk about heaven and heavenly things.
Perfect in me every day that good work which you have begun, to the glory of your name and the salvation of my sinful soul. Amen. —Lewis Bayly
2. I call upon you
O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! Amen.—Psalm 141:1–2 (ESV)
3. Lighten our darkness
Lighten our darkness, we beseech you, O Lord; and by your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night: for the love of your only Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.—Book of Common Prayer (1549)
4. You are full of mercy
O eternal God and most gracious Father, you have been so merciful unto us in things of this life, but infinitely more merciful in the things of a better life. We thank you for all your blessings and benefits. You are that Father of lights from whom we have received all good and perfect gifts. To you alone belong all glory, honor, and praise—now and evermore.
Father, would you watch over your children while we sleep? Command your angels to pitch their tents around our home, to guard us from all dangers. As we sleep in you, may we tomorrow morning be awakened by you. And so refreshed, may we be more ready to serve.
Your grace, O Lord Jesus Christ; your love, O heavenly Father; your comfort and consolation, O holy and blessed Spirit, be with us, and remain with us, this night and evermore. Amen. —Lewis Bayly
5. Help me to walk
Holy and eternal Lord, I confess those many weaknesses and imperfections which I have been guilty of today. I call on you for the pardon and forgiveness of my sins.
I have heard your word, but with such deadness and distraction, that I have been an unprofitable and forgetful hearer. I have done your work—but negligently.
But you are rich in mercy and redemption. Do not count against me what I have done wrong. Pardon my transgressions, negligence, and ignorance.
Cover my imperfections with the perfect and absolute obedience of your dear son. Ease me of the burden of all my sins, and give me grace to arise from the slumber of sin to newness of life. Help me walk according to your holy word, until I attain the end of my faith, the salvation of my soul in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. —Robert Parker
6. Answer me when I call
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Amen. —Psalm 4:1, 6–8 (ESV)
7. Thank you for redeeming me
Let your Spirit open my eyes more and more to see the wondrous things of your law, Lord. Open my lips, that my mouth may daily defend your truth and proclaim your praise.
Increase in me those good gifts which of your mercy you have already given me. And give me a patient spirit, a pure heart and affections, a contented mind, and wise behavior. Grant me all those other graces which I need to govern my heart in your fear, and guide my life in your favor.
Whether I live or die, may I live and die unto you, my God and my Redeemer.
And here, O Lord, I give unto you from the altar of my humble heart all possible thanks for those blessings and benefits which you have bestowed on my soul and body—for this life, and for that which is to come.
Thank you for creating and choosing me. Thank you for redeeming me and putting me to work. Thank you for justifying me and sanctifying me. Thank you for protecting me, from my childhood until now, and for giving me a hope for the future.
Thank you for blessing me with health and resources: food, clothing, and prosperity. And thank you especially for defending me today from perils and dangers of body and soul, and for furnishing me with all the good things I need. Amen. —Lewis Bayly
8. Grant me safe rest
O Lord God, grant that my body may so rest during this night that my mind would not cease to be awake to you. May I not, in the meantime, forget you. May I remember your goodness and grace. Keep me pure no less in mind than in body, and safe from all dangers, that my sleep itself may turn to the glory of your name. And in the same way that all things are now covered by night’s darkness, so let everything that is sinful in me lie buried in your mercy. Hear me, O God, Father and Preserver, through Jesus Christ your Son, amen. —John Calvin1
9. Into your hands
I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have graciously kept me this day. I pray that you would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Ley your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen. 2—Martin Luther
10. Come, gracious Lord
Come, gracious Lord, sit down with me after all the toils of the day. Close the evening with a blessed token of your favor.
Come, Lord Jesus, in the stillness of this evening, and show yourself to my heart in ways you do not speak to the world. Jesus, if you would only speak—even whisper—in the words of your holy Scripture, I will feel all the power, sweetness, and energy of its saving truths.
One view of your heart, Jesus, and the love in it for poor sinners, will drown all the cries of unbelief, all the noise of the world, and all the temptations of the enemy.
Then, Lord, for a while I will forget every sorrow and pain, every difficulty and trial. And then will not the tempter flee, when he sees my poor feeble soul held in the arms of Jesus?
Blessed be my God and Savior! I feel a sense of your strengthening and refreshing presence. My faith lays hold of you, and I will not let you go. Amen. —Robert Hawker
11. Give me a clean heart
Lord, you are my strength and confidence. You are my hope and shield, and my defense. Hear the humble requests I now make at your mercy seat, asking your pardon for all my sins.
Do not give me what I deserve for what I have done. Let your mercy preserve me in holiness and innocence, that I may lead a pure life in truth, humility, and justice.
Plant the good word of truth in my heart, and water it with the dew of your blessed Spirit, that it may always bring forth the fruits of a holy life.
Give me clean hands and a pure heart, Lord. Teach me to follow your example and imitate your holiness, that I may receive from you the eternal rewards and blessings of righteousness.
God of my salvation, let me ascend to where you have gone before. Fill my heart with a longing to enter those courts where you sit among millions of angels and blessed spirits.
Help my heart and eyes to overflow with sorrow and regret for my sins, so I may live a godly life, and may go from strength to strength, until I appear before you and dwell in your courts for all eternity.
And as I pray to you, let me not forget to praise and magnify your name for all your blessings of health, peace, and prosperity, renewed unto me every morning.
I give you thanks, eternal Father, for the mercies of this day, and I throw myself on your protection this night from death and danger. If I live another day, may I live in new obedience to all your holy commands, through Jesus Christ. Amen. —Robert Parker
12. Hail, gladdening light!
Hail, gladdening Light, of his pure glory poured
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies, Jesus Christ our Lord!
Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest;
The lights of evening round us shine;
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!
Worthiest are you at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, Giver of life, alone:
Therefore in all the world your glories, Lord, they own. —Athenogenes
13. I sit beneath your shadow
Precious Jesus, you give strength to my poor feeble faith, to gather all the rich fruits of your righteousness for the healing of my soul. Every day I can sit down under your shadow with great delight. Your fruit is sweet to my taste. Lord the Spirit! Glorify my Redeemer in my poor, cold, and lifeless heart. Lead my affections to my all-precious Jesus, that I may live with him and feel my claim in his great salvation grow stronger and more precious.
Oh! For grace to crucify those sins which nailed you to the cursed tree! For grace to take up the cross and follow you, day by day.
Precious Redeemer! I pray for a full tide of your grace to be poured in upon my soul when it is time to set my house in order, since you were pleased to awaken me to the knowledge of you and a desire for you.
In the end, may I finally, fully, and completely—once for all, cast my soul into your blessed arms, as I say “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Amen. —Robert Hawker
14. Give us peace
O God, you are without beginning and without end. You are the maker of the whole world by Jesus Christ. You are the provider, but before all, you are his God and Father, the Lord of the Spirit. You the King of all those who think and speak.
You have made the day for the works of light, and the night for the refreshment of our weakness.
Lord, lover of humanity, and fountain of all that is good, would you now in your mercy accept the thanksgiving we offer?
You have brought us through the length of the day, and to the beginnings of the night. Preserve us by your Christ, allow us an evening of peace, and a night free from sin.
And grant us everlasting life by your Christ, through whom glory, honor, and worship be to you in the Holy Spirit forever. Amen. —Apostolic Constitutions
15. Protect us tonight
Creator of earth and sky, you rule the heavens. You clothe the day with robes of light, and bless us at night with gracious sleep.
Your rest gives us comfort in our weariness, and refreshes us to work again in the morning. You soothe our harried minds, and you take away our heavy loads of sorrow.
The day passes. We thank you for your gift. We lift our prayers, vows, and songs to you each night. We need your shield and protection.
Shadows may close around us, but faith knows no darkness. The night borrows from the brightness of its clear spotlight.
We pray to you, Father, Son, and Spirit—three in one, blessed Trinity. Guard your sheep by day and night. Amen. —Ambrose of Milan
16. I come to bless you
Christ, my Lord, I come now to bless you, when the day is veiled in night. You who knows no beginning. You, light of the eternal light.
You dissolve the darkness, creating the light, so that everything may be in the light. You fixed the unfixed chaos, molding it into wondrous beauty for us to see. You gave humanity a way to reason, far beyond other speechless creatures. See? We are a light in your light, and we should become wholly light.
You have placed bright lamps in the radiant heavens, filling the skies above. Day and night serves you in love. Now, at night our weary natures find rest from tears and toil. But in the morning, Lord, we will return to the work that pleases you.
So wake us when the day appears. Amen. —Gregory Nazianzen
17. I lift my eyes to you
The day is over and past. All thanks be to you, O Lord. I pray that the dark hours may not bring their trouble. Jesus, keep me in your sight, and save me through the coming night.
The joys of the day are over. I lift my heart to you, O Jesus. Would you make the darkness as light, and keep me safe through the coming night?
The work of the day is over. I sing to you now in praise. Jesus, keep me in your sight, and guard me through the coming night. Lighten mine eyes, O Savior, or I would sleep in death. And the one who tempts me by day would cry in triumph, “He could not make the darkness light, or guard them through the night!”
So be the preserver of my soul, O God—you know the dangers I must go through. Hear my prayer, lover of humanity! Guard and save me from all, amen. —Anatolius of Constantinople
18. Bring back the light
Divine Word of truth, today I have not been all light. I have not kept the day as completely and wholly yours. You have seen the dark spots of failure.
Now the sun has set and the night has won. I have worked against you, my Lord. I vowed and thought to do, but failed. My steps slid somewhere else. Darkness came from below, obscuring the way of safety.
Bring back your light, O Christ. Turn darkness into day. Amen. —Gregory Nazianzen
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Find more evening prayers in these books
Fount of Heaven: Prayers of the Early Church
Regular price: $16.99
Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans
Regular price: $16.99
The Book of Common Prayer, 1979: Psalter
Regular price: $2.49
Regular price: $6.99
Prayers for Troubled Times
Regular price: $9.99
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- Old Testament Prayers: These 3 Could Redirect Your Life
- 8 Honest, Powerful Prayers in the Bible