How to Pray: Night Prayer

Hallow App How to Pray Night Prayer

As part of the Liturgy of the Hours, also called the Divine Office, Night Prayer helps us live out the call to “pray without ceasing.”

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

My introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours

When I was in college, one of my friends left the seminary. While adjusting back to normal college life, the biggest thing he missed was prayer. Specifically, he missed how prayer structured his days through the Liturgy of the Hours, as seminarians pray this together each day.

The Liturgy of the Hours is a form of prayer that follows the rhythm of each day through psalms, Scripture, and prayers. Morning Prayer begins the day. Then, Daytime Prayers are said at mid-morning, noon, and in the afternoon. Evening Prayer is said at the end of the day’s work. Lastly, Night Prayer is said before going to sleep to offer up the day to God.

Priests and religious pray these prayers every day, but all of us are invited to do so as well! I was introduced to the Liturgy of the Hours when the above-mentioned friend started getting a group together to pray Night Prayer. We fumbled through thick and confusing books (there are so many prayers to keep track of!) and sang the Hail, Holy Queen off-key, but we made it through, and the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours was made known to us. 

What is Night Prayer?

Etymology – “Compline”

Formally, Night Prayer is called “Compline.” This comes from the Latin verb complete, meaning to “fill up.” Prayed at the end of the day, Night Prayer is part of the Liturgy of the Hours. Based on its formal etymology, Compline allows you to “fill your vessel” with prayer before you go to sleep. It generally takes about 8 – 10 minutes to pray in full, as each night differs from one another based on the set Scripture.

Why do we pray Night Prayer?

To rest easy with the Lord

Ending your day in prayer with God helps you to rest in His presence before you fall asleep.

For the Lord is your shelter and refuge; you have made the Most High your dwelling-place.

Psalm 91

With the different components of Night Prayer, you’re able to call on God for a sense of calm, examine your conscience, meditate on Scripture, and grow closer to Mary. This time in prayer might help relieve any worries or burdens on your heart and mind before you fall asleep, whether you’re thinking about the day you just lived or the one you’ll live tomorrow. At the end of the day, this act reminds you that today was a gift from God, and tomorrow is, too.

To foster a deep sense of connection

It’s incredible to think that around the world, thousands of people are praying the same prayers, offering up their work and days to God. And these prayers have been prayed over and over again for years, and yet they still pertain to our lives today. As you pray, at once you are connected in the present to those praying around the world, and and you are connected to the past, to the people who lived before us, who loved and struggled and prayed just as we do today. 

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Psalm 145:18

When do we pray Night Prayer?

Night Prayer is traditionally prayed right before the end of your day — before you fall asleep. Whether you go to bed at 9:30 p.m. or 1:00 a.m., you can always pray Night Prayer. You might do this kneeling beside your bed or when you are already lying down for sleep.

Night prayer is the last prayer of the day, said before retiring, even if that is after midnight.”

The General Instructions on the Liturgy of the Hours

So, how do you pray Night Prayer?

Night Prayer cycles through 7 days of prayer. Each day contains the same structure, but has different Psalms and Scripture passages. You can pray with the text of the Liturgy of the Hours, or you can pray it with us on Hallow in the Sleep section of the app.

Here’s an outline to get you started with Night Prayer and help you follow along. The italicized parts should be said together as you pray.

How to Pray: Night Prayer

Introduction

God, come to my assistance. (Make the Sign of the Cross)

Lord, make haste to help me.

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

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.

Examination of Conscience

Take a few moments to examine your conscience from the day. This is similar to the Ignatian practice of the Daily Examen.

Let’s ask God for forgiveness as we pray.

I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I ask the blessed Mary ever-virgin, and all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Daily Psalmody

  • Antiphon (a short phrase taken from the Psalm)
  • Psalm (changes each day)
  • Pray – Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, Amen.
  • Repeat antiphon

Daily Reading from Scripture

  • A short Scripture passage is read (changes each day)

Responsory

Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

You have redeemed us, Lord God of truth.

I commend my spirit.

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

Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

Gospel Canticle

This is from the Song of Simeon in Luke Ch. 2 (often sung).

  • Antiphon – Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep; that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.
  • Pray – Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Isreal.
  • Pray – Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and will be forever. Amen.
  • Repeat antiphon – Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep; that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.

Concluding Prayer

A different prayer will begin the conclusion of your Night Prayer each day.

Closing blessing

May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death. Amen.

Song in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary

You can choose other prayers, such as the Hail Mary, and this is often sung.

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, o loving, o sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Hallow offers Night Prayer for every day of the week. You can find it in the Sleep section of the app. Also, if you have a set routine when you go to bed, you can set a reminder for Night Prayer in the app in Settings > General > Reminders.

We look forward to praying with you!