Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.

Psalm 141:2

Sonnet for Evening Prayer

Let my prayer rise to you as incense,
The sweet fragrance of this evening’s need
Ascend to your throne, awaken your sense,
And entice you to pay my prayer heed.
Let my worries, concerns, and frustrations
Rise to you this night, transformed to prayer,
That I might let go my obligations,
And entrust all I hold dear to your care.
As this unique and precious day ends, Lord,
I give thanks for it all, for everything,
For you were with me, all my prayers heard.
But hear now this last request ascending:
As I close my eyes and return this day,
When I rise, let it be with you, I pray.


Psalm 141 is traditionally prayed during a Vespers Service as evening prayer, and is the inspiration for this sonnet. Evening, a time of day when we are often filled with cares and concerns, is also when it is time to lay them down for the night. Our trust in the Lord helps us to let go of these concerns. Evening is also a time to give thanks to the Lord for the day that has been, and for God’s presence throughout it.

These are a few of my thoughts as I wrote this sonnet. So here, then, is a passage from Psalm 141, followed by the other scripture passages I had in mind when I wrote the sonnet, along with the sonnet again, followed by a closing prayer, a beautiful evening prayer written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Psalm 141:1-3

I call upon you, O Lord; 
  come quickly to me; 
  give ear to my voice when I call to you.
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, 
  and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. 
Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; 
  keep watch over the door of my lips.

Scripture Readings

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. – Psalm 3:5

Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over. – Luke 24:29

Sonnet for Evening Prayer

Let my prayer rise to you as incense,
The sweet fragrance of this evening’s need
Ascend to your throne, awaken your sense,
And entice you to pay my prayer heed.
Let my worries, concerns, and frustrations
Rise to you this night, transformed to prayer,
That I might let go my obligations,
And entrust all I hold dear to your care.
As this unique and precious day ends, Lord,
I give thanks for it all, for everything,
For you were with me, all my prayers heard.
But hear now this last request ascending:
As I close my eyes and return this day,
When I rise, let it be with you, I pray.

Closing Prayer (Evening Prayer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Lord my God, I thank you that you have brought this day to an end. I thank you that you allow body and soul to come to rest. Your hand was over me and has protected and preserved me. Forgive all weakness of faith and wrong of this day and help me gladly to forgive those who have done wrong to me. Let me sleep in peace beneath your protection and preserve me from the assaults of darkness. I commend to you those dear to me, I commend to you this house, I commend to you my body and soul. God, your holy name be praised. Amen

6 thoughts on “Sonnet for Evening Prayer

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