1. We should pray all the time, because we always need the help of God. “They must always pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1) There are certain times, however, when this need of God is greater than usual. This is so when we are tempted, or when we are threatened by some evil, whether spiritual or physical. Our need is also greater when we have some important decision to make or difficult task to undertake. When we are close to death this need of God is exceptionally urgent.
Apart from these occasions, there is a time every day when we should feel a special need to kneel and pray to God. This is when we are going to bed. Before retiring, we should kneel by the bedside and say our prayers fervently. We have many reasons for praying. (1) We should thank God for His graces during the day. (2) We should ask forgiveness for our lack of co-operation with the gifts He has given us. (3) We should ask the good God to grant us new favours.
2. A page in the story of our lives is closed. For all we know it may be the last. Sleep is a symbol of death. How can we be certain that this night will not be our last? A large number of people die during their sleep. For this reason our night prayers should include an act of sincere contrition for our sins, an act of love for God, our supreme benefactor, and an act of complete resignation to His will. When we are in bed, we should repeat the words of Jesus on the cross. “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46; Ps. 30:6) If this prayer is on our lips and in our heart, we can sleep in peace.
3. We must remember, moreover, that during the night we can be assailed by many dangers to soul and body. The devil stops at nothing in his efforts to seduce us. Anyone who goes to bed with no other thought than getting a pleasant night's sleep has neglected to ask for God's blessing and is running the risk of yielding to temptation. During these hours of necessary inactivity the devil can come with all his wiles to tempt us. In the beginning there will be idle day-dreams, then impure images, and finally the full-blooded onslaught of temptation. It would be disastrous if we were caught unprepared and without any help from God. But this assistance can be obtained by fervent and constant prayer. If it is always necessary to pray, it is especially necessary when we are inactive and therefore in a state of continual danger from the seductions of the devil. So let our day close with prayer, and from prayer we shall pass on to sleep. Let us offer to God this sleep, so necessary for the restoration of bodily energy. Let us make the intention of offering every breath we draw as an act of obedience and of the love of God.