One of the Anglican prayers for Evensong is ‘lighten our darkness, we beseech Thee, O Lord.’ It’s a prayer I often pray, rooted as it is in the imagery of light and darkness found in the Bible. Light dispels darkness; light brings illumination and clarity. John reminds us that ‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.’ (1 John 1:5) Darkness speaks to us of shadow and threat, fear and uncertainty, but light brings us to a place of freedom and joy.
Another prayer I often pray is ‘lighten our load, Lord.’ Here, the word ‘lighten’ means ‘to make lighter, less heavy’, and speaks of the burdens and loads we carry. Jesus urged us to come to Him when we are weary and burdened, to exchange the yoke of slavery – always being driven to do more and to earn favour rather than experiencing ‘the unforced rhythms of grace’ as the Message version of Matt 11:28-30 puts it- for His easy yoke. So many of the burdens we carry in life are ones God never intended to be on our shoulders; He is the God who ‘daily bears our burdens.’ (Ps 68:19) When we lay our burdens down at His feet, we can walk tall.
God’s lightening (not to be confused with the word ‘lightning’!) is what enables us to see clearly and walk freely. LIghten our darkness, Lord; lighten our load.