Ancient Prayers are True to Life

Ancient Prayers are True to Life


And grant rest, O Master, to our souls and bodies as we sleep; preserve us from the gloomy slumber of sin and from the dark passions of the night. Calm the impulses of carnal desires, quench the fiery darts of the evil one which are craftily directed against us. Still the rebellions of the flesh, and put far from us all anxiety and worldly cares. Grant us, O God, a watchful mind, pure thoughts, a sober heart and a quiet rest free from every vision of the devil. Raise us up again at the hour of prayer, strengthened in Your precepts and holding within us steadfastly the thought of Your commandments. Grant that we may sing praises to You through the night and that we may hymn, bless and glorify Your all-honorable and majestic Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Many times, all of us either repeat ancient prayers without thinking of what they are saying, or we go to the other extreme and just sigh whenever we see an ancient prayer and do not say it. Few of us ever stop and really read them to see what they are saying to us. But, look at the prayer above. It is a quite realistic prayer, and one that takes into account what happens when we sleep. So, take a moment and read the prayer above again. It is part of daily Compline, so it is a prayer that is prayed daily across the Orthodox world.

Notice that the prayer acknowledges the reality of night slumbers. All of us have had nightmares. All of us have had dreams that leave us gasping when we wake up. They may leave us gasping in fear. But, they may also leave us gasping in guilt. How could we ever imagine the things that we dreamed? What type of people are we that we have dreamed those dreams? Obviously not all dreams are negative dreams. But, all of us know that negative dreams are part of the current human reality. The prayer above covers any of several type of dreams that we might have. What impressed me was the honesty about what types of dreams people have at night.

But, more than that, all of us have had the experience of going to sleep while we are stressed and worried about some event in our life. That often leads to some very odd dreams. “Put far from us all anxiety and worldly cares,” says the prayer. “Grant us . . . a quiet rest,” we pray. Let our rest be truly rest. I find it interesting that the prayer assumes that we are going to dream. Modern understanding says that all of us dream every night. We may not remember that we have dreamed, but we have indeed dreamed. And that is what the prayer assumes. And so the prayer goes on to ask that our dreams may be restful dreams, dreams of singing praises to God throughout the night, dreams that exalt us and raise us up to the throne of God.

Dreaming has been found to be a necessary part of our achieving rest. This prayer assumes that we will dream and simply asks that our dreams be dreams that glorify God. It asks that as we dream, we dream in such a way that we awake rested and ready to undertake the tasks of the next day. More than that, it asks God to keep Satan from interfering in our dreams and asks that God intervene so that even our “natural” dreams not veer into areas that will cause us to wake up tired and not ready to face the next day.

So, are you ready to pray that prayer now? “Grant rest, O Master, to our souls and bodies as we sleep . . .” Let this be our prayer this, and every, night.

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

About author

Fr. Ernesto Obregon

I am a Cuban. My sister and I arrived in the United States of America in 1961. I was nine years old at the time and my sister was five. Yes, alone. Our mother, a widow, put us on the plane in La Habana, and we were taken to an orphanage upon our arrival in Miami. No, I never lived in Miami for longer than about six months. Yes, we and our mother were re-united. She escaped from Cuba by boat about four or five months after we arrived in the USA. We were re-united and were sent by the Catholic Welfare folk to Ohio, where they had found my mother a job and us a foster home while she learned English and got situated. So, I grew up in Ohio, had a paper route, learned to build snowmen, and moved from place to place as out mother got better jobs. Eventually she met a good man and re-married and we settled into his house in Mansfield, Ohio. I was a 15-year-old teenager.

Needless to say, none of this was necessarily guaranteed to keep me strong in the faith, although my mother tried. I rebelled during my teenage years and left Roman Catholicism for some vague hippie philosophies and a lot of rebellion. By 1970 I had been expelled from college after my first year, a year in which I was very confused and quite directionless. When I returned to Mansfield in defeat, I was approached by a friend who had become a “Jesus Person.” He took me to this “farm” that was filled with about four middle-aged adults and lots of early 20′s Jesus People. One of those adults was a Southern Baptist pastor, a former Campus Crusade staffer, and uncomfortable supervisor of hippy Jesus People, and is now the Very Rev. Gordon Walker, an Archpriest of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. His story, along with others whom I know, is chronicled in the book, “Becoming Orthodox” by the Very Rev. Peter Gillquist.

My journey was different. I eventually ended up as an Anglican priest, and a missionary. My wife and I served in both Bolivia and Perú, and our three intelligent and very perspicacious daughters spent a decade of their formative years in South America. I ended up as The Archdeacon of Arequipa of the Anglican Church of Perú, which is part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, which is part of the Anglican Communion.

We returned to the USA when our children began to attend college, and I took a parish in one of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church. Within less than four years, we realized that this was not a Church in which I could doctrinally live.

It was at this point that Fr. Gordon Walker came actively back into my life and told me that it was time that I came into Orthodoxy. He was right, and I have been Orthodox ever since. I was ordained in the Antiochian Orthodox jurisdiction, but am currently serving as an attached priest at a Greek Orthodox Church. God has blessed us. We have wonderful grandchildren. And we are truly blessed.