Bunge closes out his section on Night Prayer with comments on this time as a means of getting away from distractions.
When the Spirit spoke to Arsenius with three instructions (flee, be silent, and pray), he took the exhortation literally and went into the desert. But as the monks who lived there came to realize, there is a further dimension to the instructions—a figurative dimension, not just a geographical one.
Within the monastic life, night prayer became a period of time to practice the three injunctions with the least distraction.
How much more could we commend night prayer in our modern world, which is defined by its hectic pace and unrelenting expectations. Some kind of prayer in the hours which do not demand our constant action can provide us both space and substance to “flee, be silent, and pray.”
For us, it may be more around the time of Compline (bed time), or it may be before others in the house have awakened to fire up the engine on a new day. Night prayer does not literally have to take place at any particular time. Like other forms of liturgical prayer, the time is symbolic of a dimension of soul-care. No matter when we choose to pray “night” prayers, we are honoring the heart’s need to flee, be silent, and pray.