There are many practical tips and helpful techniques to help us sleep, but we shouldn’t forget that there are also some important spiritual realities:
- First, we are designed by God to require sleep.
- Second, sleep is a reminder that we are not God. He doesn’t need to slumber or sleep (Psalm 121:4), but we need to sleep.
- Third, when we sleep we are forced to relinquish control. In this act, we have the opportunity to choose to trust God to watch over all the pieces of our lives. As David wrote in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
To help you with the spiritual side of sleep, here are three questions that I seek to use each night before seeking rest:
What are you thankful for?
Start back at the beginning of your day. When were you blessed? Sometimes these blessings are big and unforgettable. But, also look for blessings in the ordinary everyday things and even in difficult moments. Keep searching until you find at least three things you are thankful for from the day. Then, thank God. This simple act of thanksgiving can positively change your heart and mind as you get set for rest.
Is forgiveness needed?
Taking guilt, shame, anger or hurt into your sleep won’t help your rest. Psalm 139:23-24 reads, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Pray this simple prayer, reflect on your day and confess them to God if/when you identify any offensive ways. As you seek forgiveness for yourself, by God’s grace also extend forgiveness to those who have trespassed against you.
What do you need to entrust to God?
Are you carrying some emotional, mental or practical burdens from the day? Are there some people, situations, circumstances or unfinished business that you need to entrust to God? Taking this weight into the night, even subconsciously, will hinder your rest. Instead, pray a simple prayer like, “God, I choose to trust ________ into your good care this night.”
Another helpful and beautiful night prayer from A New Zealand Prayer Book (p. 184) was given to me by a friend. I’ve shortened and slightly modified it, “Lord, it is night after a long day, what has been done has been done, what has not been done has not been done, I entrust all to you.”
May you sleep well tonight,
President, Arrow Leadership