With a matter of hours left before the nation goes over the so-called "fiscal cliff," the Senate opened for business at 1 p.m. Sunday with a particularly pointed prayer from Senate Chaplain Barry Black.

"Lord show them the right thing to do and give them the courage to do it. Be their shelter in the midst of the storm, regardless of how high the waters rise," he prayer over the largely still empty Senate chamber.

"When they feel exhausted, remind them of the great sufficiency of your grace. Look with favor on our nation and save us from self inflicted wounds."

Neither Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) nor Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-Ky.) came to the floor to offer any update to their still on-going behind-the-scenes negotiations.