Prayers of the night

These verses describe the Night Prayer to be an act of worship performed by the pious and address it to be a great means of gaining closeness to Allah.

“The honor and greatness of a believer lies in his praying at night,” said Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq.

Remembering Allah is one of the greatest deeds that can be performed by mankind. It is a deed that has an unlimited number of blessings, bringing peace and happiness into our own lives, because we have then truly understood our purpose in this life. One of the many ways in which we can remember the Almighty Allah is waking up when the world rests to offer the night prayer, also known as Salat al-Layl or Namaz-e-Shab.

There are several verses in the Qur’an that give great credit to the night prayer. These verses describe the Night Prayer to be an act of worship performed by the pious and address it to be a great means of gaining closeness to Allah. In striving to be one of those who will stand proudly on the Day of Judgment, a person gives up his sleep and seeks forgiveness from his Creator, attesting that He truly is One who covers faults and none but He knows our innermost self.

In Sura Insaan, verse 26, Allah says, “And during part of the night, adore Him and give glory to Him (for a) long (part of the) night.” This verse of the Holy Qur’an, along with others, clearly tells us to remember Allah at such a time when nobody else is aware of your wakening. It is a reference for us to know that, no matter when we call upon Allah, He will always be there to listen to us. The beauty of asking for forgiveness in the middle of the night is like holding a conversation with your Beloved, a whispered prayer where no other party can hear.

In Sura Sajdah, verse 16-17, says “Their sides draw away from (their) beds, and they call upon their Lord in fear and in hope, and they spend (benevolently) out of what We have given them. So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes, a reward for what they did.”

The reward for waking up for the Night Prayer is so great that none can describe it, and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) says, “There is no good deed except that its reward has been outlined in the Qur’an, except the Night Prayer. Almighty Allah has not specified its reward due to its greatness with Him.”

So such is the reward that we cannot comprehend, but it will surely be a great benefit for us both in this world and in the Hereafter.

Allah promises a place of glory for those who wake up for the early prayer. A person’s status is elevated so high to a position that only such few can attain: a position near Allah. The Night Prayer is known to be the most effective way to reach closer to Allah as expressed in Sura Muzammil, verse 6, where He says, “Surely the rising by the night is the firmest way to tread and the best corrective of speech.”

The time for the Night Prayer begins after midnight and is till the time of the Morning (Fajr) prayers; however, it is strongly recommended to offer it just before the time for Fajr. The prayer consists of 11 rak’at divided into three parts:

  1. Nafilah al-Layl – 8 rak’ats, four sets of twos
  2. Salat ash-Shaf’a – 2 rak’ats
  3. Salat al-Witr – 1 rak’at

Though the first 10 rak’ats are prayed in the same way we do Fajr, there are certain surahs that have been highly recommended to recite in these rak’ats.

Nafilah al-Layl

In this part, the prayers have been distributed into four sets of two rak’ats each. After Sura Fatiha in the first rak’at, it is highly recommended to recite Sura Tawheed, and in the second rak’at after Sura Fatiha, it is highly recommended to recite Sura Kafirun. This is for the first set of two rak’ats. In the remaining six, any small surahs can be recited.

Salat ash-Shaf’a

This part consists of two rak’ats, without the Qunoot. In the first rak’at, it is highly recommended to recite Sura Naas after Sura Fatiha, and in the second rak’at, it’s recommended to recite Sura Falaq.

Salat al-Witr

In the final rak’at of the Night Prayer, a believer turns his heart and soul to the highest proximity to Allah. We begin the prayer with Sura Fatiha, followed by the recitation of Sura Tawheed three times, Sura Falaq once, and Sura Naas once. We then raise our hands in Qunoot, humbling ourselves before our Creator and trying to truly understand Him. We raise our left hand in dire plea for forgiveness, while using the right hand to hold the tasbih.

First we recite a short du’a, followed by seeking repentance, reciting Astaghfirullaha rabbi wa atubu ilaih (I seek forgiveness of Allah, my Lord, and I turn to Him) 70 times.

Having stood in the early hours of the morning, we pray for all the believers who are sharing our struggle in this world. We ask for forgiveness for forty believers, men and women, who have died or living, by saying Allahummaghfirli (Oh Allah, forgive…), and then we take the name of forty believers. As well as family members and friends, it is recommended to remember the scholars who have represented the message of Islam and propagated it with their every limb.

Then we say, Astaghfirullahal ladhi laa ilaaha illa huwal hayyul qayyumu li jami’i dhulmi wa jurmi wa israafi alaa nafsi wa atubu ilaih. (I seek forgiveness of Allah, besides whom there are no gods, the Ever-living, the Subsisting, from all my oppressions and my sins and my excess on my soul, and I turn to Him.)

Then repeat seven times: Haadha maqamul a’idhi bika minan naar. (Here stands one who seeks Your refuge from the fire.)

We then end the Qunoot with saying Al-Afw (Forgiveness!) three hundred times and saying Rabbighfirli warhamni watub alayya innaka anta tawwabur raheem. (My Lord, forgive me, and have mercy on me, and turn to me. Surely You are the Oft-returning, the Merciful.)

The prayer is concluded with the tasbih of Lady Fatima (peace be upon her), as well as numerous supplications that are recommended to recite after the Night Prayer.

Such is our humility before Allah, and such is the greatness of this prayer, which brings us before Allah in a state that none other than our soul knows of. The benefits and rewards for this prayer are undoubtedly great. Indeed, in addition to increase our spiritual strength and our worldly sustenance, the Holy Prophet said, “Whoever has been granted the chance to recite the Night Prayer, a male servant or a female one, and he (or she) rises for Allah sincerely, does proper ablution, prays for Allah with a true intention, a sound heart, a humble body and a tearful eye, Allah will place behind him nine rows of angels. The number of angels in each row cannot be counted except by Allah. One side of each row is in the East, and the other is in the West. Then when he completes his prayer, he gets the reward of all of the angels in the rows.” And in his parting words to Imam Ali (peace be upon him) before he returned to his Lord, the Prophet is narrated to have said, “Oh Ali, I enjoin upon you the Night Prayer, I enjoin upon you the Night Prayer, I enjoin upon you the Night Prayer!”

More information and duas that are recommended to recite before, during, and after the Night Prayer are available online. Please consult your respective Marja Taqleed for jurisprudential inquiries.
Prayers for My Depression

O God, as I am feeling depressed, may this heaviness speak to me. Help me listen to what depression may have to teach me at this time. I am depressed. Guide me to a person, a place and resources to support me during these moments. I feel deep sadness to the point of not wanting to be around people and not wanting to do anything. Like Your prophet Jeremiah, I question my own existence and value. Is my life worth living? Console me, Holy Spirit, when I feel undesirable and unlovable. Amen.

Prayers for My Heart

God, lifter of bowed-down heads, help me recognize Your presence with me in this depressive time in my life. May someone come and hear about my pain either by showing up, emailing, calling me or messaging me. My heart needs some human connection today! In Your holy name, Amen.

Prayers for Resentment of Depression

God, I do not like it when I’m depressed. It slows me down and makes me feel what I don’t want to feel: immense sadness for myself, others and our world. Sustain me in this time and hold me close. Amen.

Prayers for My Spouse Who Lives with Depression

God, in Your mercy, hear my prayer. My spouse (or significant other) lives with depression, and I don’t know what to do. I feel powerless and inadequate to help. This is frustrating because it can be so unpredictable. Help me find the resources that I need to be with my spouse (or significant other) during these times of pain. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Prayers for Others with Depression

Dear Holy Parent, hold all Your children who live with the mental condition of depression. Send Your love through people–therapists, pastors, friends, family, etc.–that they may be assured of Your love in their dark hours. In Your holy name, Amen.

Ending your day with prayer is a wonderful way to let go of stress and find peace before falling asleep. No matter what you faced today, talking to God through goodnight prayers will renew your faith. Evening prayer also helps you see all the good things that happened in your day that you have to be thankful for!

Share these nine bedtime and evening prayers with your children, spouse and friends so they too can fall asleep feeling blessed and thankful! 

Goodnight Prayer for Blessings

Bless us with rest tonight, Jesus, and a good night’s sleep. Forgive us for the things we did today that did not honor you. Thank you for loving us so much and that you know us through and through. We need your help every day, and we thank you for the strength you give and for helping us know that with you, even hard things are possible. Bless our family and our home, and keep us safe through the night. May your angels guard us and watch over us, just like you promised.

You’ve told us we are just like sheep. And that you lead us and guard us like a shepherd. You know our names, and you make us feel special and loved. When we hurt, you help us feel better. Thank you, Jesus, for your good care and for giving us to help. Thank you for the Bible, and for teaching us stuff in life that helps us grow. Bless the people in our world, and help them to know you love them, too. Thank you for all the people who help us so much: teachers, doctors, policeman, and fireman—and so many more.

Thank you for your good plan for our lives. Help us to obey you and love you more and more. When we awake in the morning, put a smile on our face and your purpose in our hearts, ready to start a new day. We love you, Jesus. Good night. In Jesus’s precious name, Amen. ~ ~ Rebecca Barlow Jordan

A Bedtime Prayer to Stop an Anxious Heart

Dear Lord, please help me trust You and empower me through Your Spirit to stop my emotions from bossing me around. I want to quit worrying about what might happen and focus on what has already happened by remembering and praising You for Your faithfulness in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Renee Swoop

Giving Thanks Evening Prayer

Dear God, we thank you tonight for the good day and for the special way you take care of us all the time. Thank you for the fun times outside and the quiet times inside, and for helping us learn new things every day.

Thank you for creating us special, exactly the way you wanted. Thank you for protecting us throughout the day. Forgive us for the wrong things we do. Thank you for loving us even when we disobey or try to do things our way. Help us to always choose your way, God, because it’s always best. We pray for all the people who don’t know you, and that they will come to understand your love for them, too.

Bless our family and thank you for good times together and apart. Bless our friends and those we love, including our grandparents, our aunts and uncles and cousins. Thank you for our home and a place to sleep and good food to eat. Help us rest well, give us peaceful dreams, and send your angels around our home to protect us throughout the night. Teach us to trust you and to love you more and more. You are good; you are great; and you are faithful, God. And we love you. Good night. In Jesus’s precious name, Amen. ~ Rebecca Barlow Jordan

prayers of the night

A Short Night-time Prayer (2 Timothy 1:7)

For God’s not given me a spirit of fear, 
But a spirit of love, 
and of power, and a sound mind,
To live each day and glorify his name. 

Popular Child’s Bedtime Prayer, 18th Century

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Alternative Version for Children:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
Watch and guard me through the night,
and wake me with the morning light.

A Beautiful Prayer to End the Day

Heavenly Father, my day is drawing to an end, and I’m ready to turn in. But before I do, I have to thank you for your faithfulness today. It’s always a good day, even when things may not go the way I plan, or when the world seems in chaos, because you are in control.

For all the times when I was aware of your help today, all the times when your unseen presence seemed so near, thank you, God. But for all the ways you worked behind the scenes, unknown to me, moments when heaven-sent angels moved on my behalf in ways I’ll never know, thank you for those also, Lord.

Forgive me for any foolish actions on my part today or things I did without first asking your blessing or wisdom. Those are moments I’d rather forget, but I’m so grateful for your forgiveness when I ask. I never want to go to bed without clearing the air between us, Lord. Our friendship means too much, and your holiness deserves that. Thank you for loving me just as I am. Your love compels me to give you my all and fills my heart with praise for the relationship we share because of Jesus.

As I close my eyes tonight, I’m praying for loved ones around me, for friends and those who need to know you, Lord. I’m praying that your love, like the billions of stars in the night sky outside, will touch them and help them see who you really are. I pray for our world and those in it. I pray for their needs as well as my own.

Grant me a good night’s sleep tonight, God, so that I can awake refreshed and ready to begin another day loving you. Thank you again for blessings so undeserved and too numerous to count. I love being your child, and I long for the word “faithful” to describe my service to you, each day of every year. When I awake in the morning, may it be with a joyful smile, not a grumpy spirit. May your protection and your presence bathe this place with peace and safety against the enemy. Good night, Lord. In Jesus’s name, Amen. ~ Rebecca Barlow Jordan

prayers of the night

Father, We Thank Thee

Father, we thank thee for the night,
And for the pleasant morning light;
For rest and food and loving care,
And all that makes the day so fair.
Help us to do the things we should,
To be to others kind and good;
In all we do, in work or play,
To grow more loving every day.
— Rebecca Weston – 1890

Bedtime Prayer (song by Twila Paris)

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray dear Lord that you will keep
Your eyes upon this sleeping world
Every little boy and girl

Bless the children far away
The ones who don’t know how to pray
Those who are not feeling well
The little one the slipped and fell

Bless the puppy down the street
The neighbors I have yet to meet
Bless my mom and dad especially

Just one more thing I’d like to say
Before I close another day
I’d like to thank you Lord for all the ways
That You bless me

Bless the child whose home is torn
The babies who are not yet born
Bless the ones who take your word
To all the hearts that have not heard

Bless all your children everywhere
I hope they know how much you care
Maybe someday I can go
And tell them that You love them so

Bless Grandma and my Grandpa too
And all my friend and all they do
Bless every twig upon my family tree

Just one more thing I’ll say to you
I’m so amazed by all you do
I’ll thank you once again because it’s true
That you bless me

The Examen (Evening Reflection)

Written by St. Ignatius Loyola, the Examen is a daily process for prayerfully reflecting on your day. 

1. Remember God’s presence.
Even after a trying day, God will quiet your soul as you remember His presence and intentionally seek to enter into it. Remember He’s with you. Invite Him to make Himself present to you. 

2. Respond to Him with thanks.
Giving thanks gives God glory and helps us look on the bright side of a bad day. What small blessings can you thank God for?

3. Reflect on how God showed Himself to you.
God reveals himself through scripture, but we also see glimpses of him in nature, events, and people. Sometimes He shows up loudly through miraculous, divine intervention. Other times He shows Himself quietly through the beauty of a flower or an earnest conversation. As you look back over your day, can you identify moments where you sensed God’s revelation or intervention? 

4. Repent of your failings.
I don’t like recognizing my own sin, but repentance is key to continual renewal in our relationship with God.As you reflect on your day, remember specific points where you failed. Bring your shortcomings before God and ask Him to forgive you.  

5. Resolve to grow. 
God is in the business of changing us, so don’t let your failings discourage or define you. His mercies are always new. Accept His forgiveness. Ask Him for grace to change. Is there anything you need to make right or anyone you need to apologize to? What can you do differently tomorrow?

Do you have a favorite goodnight prayer you use at bedtime? One that your parents taught you or that you are teaching your children? Share it with our community in the comments below!

prayers of the night

This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.

Prayer for Healing

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