Before the ending of the day
Creator of the world, we pray
That you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.
From evil dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Tread underfoot our deadly foe
That we no sinful thought may know.
O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ your only Son;
And Holy Spirit, by whose breath
Our souls are raised to life from death.
Bishop Ambrose of Milan
On first reading this might appear to be a very dated prayer. God is compared to a careful parent putting an anxious child to bed. The ‘deadly foe’ is the serpent Satan from Genesis who disturbed the equilibrium of Eden.
Yet who has not known the ‘terrors’ of the night? Is it so naive or primitive to reach out for the protection of God?
I can the lock the doors, put on the burglar alarm, snuggle down and sleep amid the quiet streets of our little village but at 3.00am I can wake, stare into the dark and soon any sense of rest has gone. Night ushers in a very different ‘me’. It feels like the USS Enterprise with its defensive shields down. Dawn may still find me in the same position.
Would a prayer of faith like that Bishop Ambrose make any difference? I will not know unless I put down the business of one day and place that mess of contradictions into the hands of the Creator … before the ending of the day.