What Has Not Been Done

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2 October 2012 by thaliakr

Ya Ya Napping

Ya Ya Napping (Photo credit: Frank Peters)

If you want to sleep as well as this panda (though perhaps on a comfier pillow), read on.

Good ‘sleep hygiene‘ includes having a bedtime routine that helps get your body and mind ready to sleep.

As part of the rhythm of the day, Christians have traditionally prayed before bed. Maybe your Grandma taught you the Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild prayer, or maybe you meditate cross-legged on the floor, or maybe you fall into bed, cream-crackered, about half an hour past your bedtime.

The ‘examen‘ is an individual spiritual practice done before bed, but tonight I’m inspired by the daily office of Compline. It’s the corporate version of last-thing-at-night prayer in religious communities (gregorian plainchant, anyone?) and in that tradition comes this prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book.

I read somewhere (but half an hour of googling is not telling me where, sorry) that the writer, part of a team on a writing retreat to work on this bold new version of the Anglican prayer book, came back to his bedroom at the end of the day, exhausted, and jotted this down as part of his own processing of the day’s challenges.

The resulting short prayer of reflection on the day past and the day to come made its way into the finished version as part of a full liturgy of ‘night prayer’ and is now prayed around the world.

A study group I led a few years ago finished our discussions each week by praying through the liturgy, but this one prayer was the most popular part by far. We had one person read it aloud with a good pause between each stanzas.

If you are replaying the day’s frustrations or regrets on a loop, or lying in bed worrying about tomorrow’s to do list, some of these lines might be powerfully helpful:

Lord, it is night.

The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us, and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
new joys, new possibilities.
In your name we pray. Amen.

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