5 Jun 2006

Midnight Prayers … From the Desert longing for the Eschaton

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Christian hope, Church History, eschatology, Holy Spirit, Kingdom, Prayer, Spiritual Disciplines
Midnight Prayers . . . From the Desert

Greetings from Milwaukee . . . What follows does not replace our “Praying through Romans” rather this is just a “report” on some exciting reading I discovered.

Sometime back I shared my discovery of praying with the saints. This has richly blessed me in my walk with the Lord in many ways. I have learned many prayers by heart, developed many “relationships” across the centuries and have come to value that sense of spiritual companionship that is, unfortunately, often missing from Christian communities today. And we rarely have a true doctrine of the universal church . . . I would like to share a blessing that has come my way.

I bought a book yesterday called Prayers from the East: Traditions of Eastern Christianity, ed. Richard Marsh (Fortress Press, 2004). There are prayers and prayer cycles from the Syriac, Coptic and Armenian churches . . . ancient fellowships of Christians that have stood outside the sphere of influence of Western Christianity. The prayers that follow are from the Coptic (Egyptian) Christians and are midnight prayers (not far from midnight now).

511DKoSJcuL._SX380_BO1,204,203,200_Perhaps we need to imagine ourselves in a monastery out in the desert with the monks gathering together midnight prayer. The quality of the spirituality of the desert is special and this has long been a significant underpinning for Coptic Christianity. It is a Christianity forged in the crucible of the desert where emptiness heightens the sense of God’s presence.

In the prayers that follow there is a feeling of urgency and the immincence of the end times. They are a meditation based on Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish virgins. Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church is called to be watchful and ready for his coming. These are not bad themes for the church at the beginning of the 21st century . . . it is not often that the “end times” works its way into our prayers . . . corporate or otherwise.

I am grateful for this from these prayer warriors . . . but to the prayers:

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight. Blessed is that servant whom he shall find watching, but he whom he shall find sleeping is unworthy to go with him. See, O my soul, that you grow not heavy with sleep, lest you be cast outside the Kingdom, but watch and cry aloud saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy are you, O God!’ For the sake of the birth-giver of God, have mercy upon us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O my soul, consider that terrible day and awake and light your lamp with the oil of gladness,because you know not the hour when that cry comes upon you saying, ‘Behold the Bridegroom is coming.’ See, O my soul, that you sleep not, lest you be found outside, knocking like the five foolish virgins, but watch, that you may meet the Lord Christ with oil of fatness and that he may grant you the true wedding of his divine glory.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

Another prayer said at midnight using the same themes is as follows:

O heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who are everywhere present, and fill all things, O treasury of good, and bestower of life, come and dwell in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save, O Good One, our souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As you were with your disciples, O Saviour, and gave them peace, come also and be with us, and save us, and deliver our souls.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

Midnight-clockOne last prayer from the parched desert at midnight pulses with urgency . . . to be graced by the Gracious One:

O Lord, hear us, have mercy on us, and forgive our sins. Lord have mercy.

Holy, holy, holy, O Lord of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of your glory and your majesty. Have mercy on us, O God, the Father Almighty.
O holy Trinity, have mercy upon us.
O Lord of hosts, be with us, for we have no other helper in our tribulations and necessities but you.
Loose, remit and pardon, O God,
our transgressions that we have committed
voluntarily and involuntarily,
consciously and unconsciously,
secretly and openly.
O Lord, remit them for the sake of your holy Name,
by which we are called,
according to your mercy, O Lord,
and not according to our sins. Amen.”

And Amen.

We could do worse than to teach ourselves and our congregations to pray for awareness of the times . . . and seek forgiveness in anticipation that the Bridegroom’s will return . . . and soon!

Stoned-Campbell Disciple
Bobby Valentine

4 Responses to “Midnight Prayers … From the Desert longing for the Eschaton”

  1. Bill Says:

    BV: Thanks so much for sharing these! -BW

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Bobby: I loved reading these prayers. I especially related to the third prayer! – cheryl

  3. Anonymous Says:

    One of the books that we covered on Ken Shrable’s Monday Book Club was about the Desert Fathers.

    Thanks for posting this blog


  4. preacherman Says:


    I enjoy reading your blog.

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