Prayers before sleep and daily confession
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
“Each hour of the day we should note and weigh our actions and in the evening we should do what we can to free ourselves from the burden of them by means of repentance – if, that is, we wish, with Christ’s help, to overcome wickedness.”
- St Hesychios of Jerusalem
These prayers are intended as a way to practice regular, daily confession, as advised in the above quote and in the words of many of the desert Saints. We sin daily, and it becomes impractical and dangerous to wait until we have the opportunity to stand by a priest in order to confess.
The prayers are taken from the Book of Hours (Horologion) of the Orthodox Church; they are also contained in the evening prayers of many Slavic prayer books for personal use. The “Daily confession of sins” prayer, when said with concentration, is an aid for us to remember our own actions, words and thoughts throughout the day, which we can then confess (aloud or internally) before God.
St Anthony assures us that our sins “are forgiven us from the time we give ourselves to God and repentance. Do not doubt his forgiveness in repentance.”
The prayers below are not intended to replace the Sacrament of Repentance where sins are confessed before a priest. However, it is advised that regular, daily, confession makes the more infrequent confession to a priest much simpler and straightforward.
1) Prayers before Sleep (with explanation)
Includes opening and closing prayer as well as an explanation of the Prayer of Confession, intended as an aid to examining the conscience.
2) Prayers before Sleep and Daily Confession
Same as 1), but without the explanation of the Prayer of Confession for brevity's sake.
Prayers before Sleep & Daily Confession
Holy Mighty... to Our Father...
O Come, let us worship God our King; Bow
O Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God; Bow
O Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God. Bow
Daily Confession of Sins:
I confess to Thee, my Lord, God and Creator, to the One glorified and worshipped in Holy Trinity, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all my sins which I have committed all the days of my life, at every hour, in the present and in the past, day and night, in thought, word and deed;
by gluttony, drunkenness, secret eating, idle talking, despondency, indolence, contradiction, neglect, aggressiveness, self-love, hoarding, stealing, lying, dishonesty, curiosity, jealousy, envy, anger, resentment, and remembering wrongs, hatred, mercenariness; and by all my senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch; and all other sins, spiritual and bodily, through which I have angered Thee, my God and Creator, and caused injustice to my neighbours. Sorrowing for this, but determined to repent, I stand guilty before Thee, my God. Only help me, my Lord and God, I humbly pray Thee with tears. Forgive my past sins by Thy mercy, and absolve me from all I have confessed in Thy presence, for Thou art good and the Lover of men. Amen.
Prayer of St. John of Damascus (to be said pointing at the bed)
O Lord, Lover of men, is this bed to be my coffin, or wilt Thou enlighten my wretched soul with another day? Here the coffin lies before me, and here death confronts me. I fear, O Lord, Thy Judgment and the endless torments, yet I cease not to do evil. My Lord God, I continually anger Thee, and Thy immaculate Mother, and all the Heavenly Powers, and my holy Guardian Angel. I know, O Lord, that I am unworthy of Thy love, but deserve condemnation and every torment. But, whether I want it or not, save me, O Lord. For to save a good man is no great thing, and to have mercy on the pure is nothing wonderful, for they are worthy of Thy mercy.
But show the wonder of Thy mercy on me, a sinner. In this reveal Thy love for men, lest my wickedness prevail over Thy unutterable goodness and mercy. And order my life as Thou wilt.
As sleep is the image of death, at night we pray for the departed.
With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing, but life everlasting.
When about to lie down in bed, say:
Lighten my eyes, O Christ God, lest I sleep in death, and lest my enemy say: I have prevailed over him.
+ Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Be my soul's Defender, O God, for I step over many snares. Deliver me from them and save me, O Good One, in Thy love for men.
Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Let us not silently hymn the most glorious Mother of God, holiest of holy Angels, but confess her with heart and mouth to be the Mother of God, for she truly bore God incarnate for us, and prays without ceasing for our souls. Amen.
Kiss your cross, and make the sign of the Cross from head to foot of the bed and from two sides, and then say:
Prayer to the Venerable Cross
Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee from His presence. As smoke vanishes, let them vanish; and as wax melts from the presence of fire, so let the demons perish from the presence of those who love God and who sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross and say in gladness: Hail, most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, for Thou drivest away the demons by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified on thee, Who went down to hell and trampled on the power of the devil, and gave us thee, His venerable Cross, for driving away all enemies. O most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, help me with our holy Lady, the Virgin Mother of God, and with all the Saints throughout the ages. Amen.
Just before getting into bed, say:
Guard me, O Lord, by the power of Thy holy and life-giving Cross, and keep me from all evil.
Before yielding yourself up to sleep, say:
Into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ, my God, I surrender my spirit and body; bless me, save me, and grant me eternal life. Amen.
Before retiring (or if one prefers, before beginning prayers) go through all the points suggested below in your mind and memory.
I. Give thanks to Almighty God for granting you during the past day, by His grace, His gifts of life and health.
II. Examine your conscience by going through each hour of the day, beginning from the time you rose from your bed, and recall to memory: where you went, how you acted and reacted towards all persons and other creatures, and what you talked about. Recall and consider with all care your thoughts, words and deeds from morning till evening.
III. If you have done any good, do not ascribe it to yourself but to God Who gives us all the good things and thank Him. Pray that He may confirm you in this good and enable you to do other good things.
IV. But if you have done anything evil, admit that this comes from yourself and your own weakness, from bad habits or weak will. Repent and pray to the Lover of men that He may forgive you, and promise Him firmly never to do this evil again.
V. Implore your Creator with tears to grant you a quiet, undisturbed, pure and sinless night, and to enable you on the coming day to devote yourself wholly to the glory of His holy Name.
If you find a soft pillow, leave it, and put a stone in its place for Christ's sake. If you sleep in winter, bear it, saying: Some did not sleep at all.