Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep . . . All for your love’s sake. Amen.

Stay awake! Be alert! Don’t fall asleep! We often hear these admonitions in the Advent scriptures. Our compline prayer, however, turns these around. We are the ones doing the requesting: God, stay awake! We need you to keep watch with those of us who cannot sleep. It’s night. It’s dark. It’s scary. We’re working the night shift to make ends meet. We’re watching for children who haven’t come home yet. Our grief and our pain are overwhelming. We need YOU to do the watching. For your love’s sake, dear Lord.

This prayer is not just for those who can’t sleep. The sleeping need to be watched over, too: Our children have had us up every night this week; please guard their sleep. Our loved ones finally have some relief from their chronic pain; please guard their sleep. We ourselves are so tired; please guard our sleep. We need strong sentries. For your love’s sake, dear Lord. Make no mistake, strong sentries will come. The angels given charge over those who sleep are fearsome guardians. In scripture, they are not chubby cherubs, but ones who stand before the throne of God and come as divine messengers. Their messages are generally prefaced with Fear not!

Our prayer for Advent begins in our needs for companionship and protection in the dark. We know comfort and hope because we pray, All for your love’s sake, dear Lord.

This Week's Scripture

I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. 

          – Psalm 4:8


  • Pray our prayer each night before bed.
  • Who do you know who is working, watching, or weeping and needs God to watch with them? Who do you know who needs angels guarding their sleep? Pray for them and perhaps share this prayer with them.
  • Do you need God to watch with you or need the angels to guard your sleep? Talk to God about your needs.

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  • Read this week’s scripture slowly. Is there a word or phrase in it that is especially meaningful for you? Put this on a post-it note and keep it nearby you at night and even during the day.
  • Read Luke 2:8-14, a story about shepherds watching and fearsome angel messengers singing.
  • The book, Prayer in the Night, by Tish Harrison Warren, is an honest and beautifully written book on our Advent prayer.


Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.