It’s the practice of many to say prayers before going to bed. Perhaps you have said prayers with your children when they were young, kneeling by the bed with hands folded in prayer. It was a time to say thank you for the blessings of the day, to pray for family members and pets, and to say “good night” to God asking for safety and sound sleep. That was my custom as a small boy, praying with my parents and at a later age by myself. The practice of prayer became a part of my daily living.

When you pray you can express the thoughts of your heart either silently or aloud. Formal prayers are not necessary, but you might want to include the prayer that Jesus taught, “The Lord’s Prayer.” I find it helpful to express both the thoughts of my heart and to pray formal prayers that capture what I mean to say. I have shared in previous devotionals morning prayers to dedicate your day to God, and here are a few prayers that you might like to say at the close of the day before bed:

“Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.” Amen. (From the Book of Common Prayer) If you’re not into “thee and thy” you can use “you and your.”

A prayer asking God to be present with those who “work, or watch, or weep this night” is from the last service of the day known as Compline.

“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.

There are many prayers available to us written by saints, poets, and people like ourselves who seek to spend time with God in prayer, both by speaking and listening. I enjoy the prayers of J. Philip Newell and use two of the prayer books he has written. Here is a closing prayer for Sundays from “Sounds of the Eternal.”

“Bless my body and soul this night

That I may be renewed in the forgetfulness of sleep.

Visit me in my dreams

That I may remember my birth in you.

Protect me with your angels of brightness, O God,

That I may awake to the freshness of the morning,

That I may awake to You as the new day’s freshness.”

Enjoy your prayers before bed.