Desert Wisdom: Vigil

The first element Bunge deals with relative to Night Prayer is “vigil.”

Early Christians chose the night for keeping vigil, because they felt it was the period of the day least susceptible to distraction and interruption.  It was in the night that they believed they could best honor Jesus’ exhortation to “watch and pray.”

They understood that entering into an exterior quiet assists our souls in the experience of interior silence.  When the world around us is at rest, that peace seems to “soak” into our spirit.

This does not require us to literally get up at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. as monastics do.  We can rise early enough in the morning (assuming we get to bed on time) to experience the stillness of the morning, before the rat race begins.

And the principle of vigil can be part of our prayer life at other times in the day, as we develop a style of praying that includes finding a quiet place, relaxing, listening, and resting.

Remember…the point of vigil is to “watch and pray.”  Vigil is a spirit of prayer, not just a particular time of prayer.  It is developing a life of prayer that is attentive—aware of both the things that can lead us into temptation, and also the things that can lead us away from it.  Vigil is the way we sense the stream of the Spirit and step into it; the way we sense the wind of the Spirit and raise our sails.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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