I slept very well last night.
I know why I slept well, and I’m happy to share the secret.
At my ordination as a deacon I made a commitment to the daily celebration of the Prayer of the Church. This prayer is commonly known as the ‘Office’ or the ‘Liturgy of the Hours’. To be honest I have not always found it easy to keep this commitment. There are times when I have allowed other challenges and demands to fill this space made for the prayer of and with the Church.
In these sabbatical weeks, perhaps partly because my days are more routine than when at home in the parish, I have found that the Liturgy of the Hours has become a central structure for each day with times for prayer (often just five minutes) set every three hours throughout each day.
While priests and Religious make a commitment to praying the Office, this prayer is indeed the prayer of the entire Church. More and more people are finding that the praying of these scriptural prayers, with Psalms, Canticles and readings, is the ideal way to remember the presence and love of God at key moments of every day.
And the whole point is that because this is the Prayer of the Church, I am never praying alone even though I am in my room alone. At these moments other Christians around the world are praying. While we might be physically on our own, we are united deeply in God.
And as I pray these Psalms, very often I am not praying what I feel. But this is not important since prayer is not primarily about my feeling. On a day when I am feeling pretty good I may be praying “Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord”. But this just reminds me that it is not all about me. Someone else will be in the depths and I am praying in deep unity with them and for them. On other days I may be feeling a bit down down, but they will be having a great day. Yet they will take time in their joy to pray for me “Out of the depths…”
Anyway, yesterday afternoon I was praying Psalm 126: one of the Evening Prayer psalms for the feast of the Assumption. I have prayed this psalm many times over the years but never noticed the beauty of this line before:
God “pours gifts on his beloved
while they slumber”
We are so used to working for everything we have and need (‘you who toil for the bread you eat’ is the preceeding line), yet God pours gifts on us, even while we sleep!
With that knowledge of God’s presence and generosity I turned out the light last night knowing that God probably finds it easier to fill me with love and gifts when I am asleep since I am not able to resist.
You might like to take ten seconds as you go to sleep tonight to remember that while you sleep, God will be at work in you, healing, refreshing, forgiving and renewing.
I guarantee that if you fall asleep knowing this then, like me, you will sleep very well.