pray to sleep

Apr 27, 2020

For twenty years until the advent of 24 hour TV in the mid 1990’s, the New Zealand TV day concluded with a one minute animation of a kiwi preparing for bed. It was worth staying up to watch, and the brief clip provided a daily bedtime reminder that now the day was done and it was time for all wise people to be in bed.

You might appreciate watching Goodnight Kiwi again at this link.

Over the years I have taken time whenever possible to spend a few days in a monastery where the end of day ritual of prayer and stillness provides an helpful preparation for sleep. How easy it is in our homes to work on computer or watch action TV until the last minutes before sleep, but such activity is not the best preparation for the nightly hours of re-creation.

Some of the best known children’s bed-time prayers remind us that falling to sleep at night is a relaxation into God’s kind keeping. Remember the well known “now I lay me down to sleep?”

I know that many parents take a minute or two to pray with children as they tuck them in for the night, perhaps finishing these moments by thumbing the Sign of the Cross on their child’s forehead before kissing them goodnight.

Now that we are adults we have to put ourselves into bed and there is no-one to pray over us before we sleep. That’s not a problem since praying ourselves to sleep is a great discipline.

I have been thinking for some time about providing a simple audio reflection that helps us to use these privileged last moments of the day to savour the graces of the day, to let go of the more difficult events and people of the day, and to give every concern to Jesus for him to work on while we sleep.

The form I have chosen is a combination of the traditional Compline (Night Prayer / Evensong) of the Church, and a simplified form of the Consciousness Examen of Ignatius.

My hope is that if you use this audio you will be asleep before the end of the Salve chant!

This offering is very much an experiment and includes, a brief introduction to the time of reflection, an invitation to consider the reality of the day now ended (Consciousness Examen), the Nunc Dimittis from Compline concluding with the traditional anthem Salve Regina which is the last word of a monastic before they head to bed entering the grand silence of night.

This reflection is intended for use once in bed. I hope it will not only to help us to sleep better but also provide a moment of reflection at the end of the day.

This reflection (or a similar method) will deepen our ability to live every sleeping and waking hour in the peace and freedom God offers.





Keep the bell pictures coming in. Send to  A domestic doorbell today from the home of Fleur & Pat in Timaru.

Monday Easter Week III  (15 minutes)

Monday Easter Week III  (25 minutes)


  1. Good morning Father,
    This “Pray to sleep” reflection is perfect.
    Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou!
    I look forward to a peaceful and restful sleep and will wake to see in the morning light, what God has magically re-created throughout the night. God bless

  2. Thank you Father John fo this beautiful night time prayer, it popped up on Soundcloud last night and I listened as I lay in bed. I had some troublesome thoughts in my head and was feeling rather threatened, but your prayer and reflection put my mind at ease and I slept well… Thank you again for being so open to the Spirit to give us this bread!
    God bless everyone have a wonderful day

  3. Amen thank you Father John Amen

  4. Thanks Fr.John. Will now go and listen to Hine e Hine over breakfast.

  5. Thank you Fr John – this is so very welcome!

  6. Thanks Fr John, I am reminded today of the Micah quote on your ordination card. Live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God. Also a little of this dramatic Easter in our little South Canterbury town.
    Ash Wednesday evening our parish joined with local Anglicans at their church. In solidarity about 30 of our parishioners shared the ashes and communion with them, a very special time just prior to lockdown.
    Holy Thursday evening Bishop Paul via video placed us squarely in the upper room as Jesus celebrated the last supper. How beautiful that was in light of what the world is going through right now.


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