I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me (Psalm 3:5).
About six months ago, I began to pray that the Lord would minister to those that I love, and to me, while we slept. I wasn't sure what stirred this thought, much less the urgency I felt. I didn't even know it had a solid foundation in Scripture. I felt a powerful conviction to do this.
Then, an emotional disaster burst upon my heart. It ripped and pulled at the seams of my soul. Nightmares became a regular occurrence for a short time. For someone who has always had a hard time getting to sleep, this situation only increased my reluctance to rest. My spirit was even more troubled when I awakened the next morning.
Thankfully, the Lord had given me words to say before the crisis hit: "Dear Father, please minister to us while we sleep in ways we don't know or understand and give us rest." I praise the Father for the grace of so clearly and repeatedly answering this prayer.
As I have studied Scripture over these last six months, the Lord's ministry during the night has been confirmed again and again.
First, there is the grace of Creation's rhythm. In God's created order, day begins with evening and then there is morning (Genesis 1:3-31 emphasizes this six times — verses 3, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31!). God gave us evening to rest as a gift of his creative design!
Second, the Psalms speak of God's presence and protection in the night. We can sleep with confidence and in safety because of his presence (Psalm 3:5; Psalm 4:8; Psalm 16:7; Psalm 91:5; Job 11:19).
Third, God is present with us and examines us while we sleep. He lovingly convicts us of wrong, corrects us, and confirms his pleasure in so that when we awaken, we are assured his pleasure and presence (Psalm 17:15; Psalm 139:23-24).
Fourth, he plants his song in our hearts as we sleep and accepts our sleeping thoughts as prayer to him. He gives us songs in the night and awakens us with joy (Psalm 42:8; Psalm 77:6; Psalm 143:8; Job 35:10).
Fifth, part of God's promised covenant blessing is that his people will sleep in confidence, the sweet sleep of his presence and protection. As we seek to live out our lives as his faithful people, his promise and his singing cover us (Leviticus 26:6; Proverbs 3:24; Zephaniah 3:13).
This new understanding has been a great blessing to me. Sleep in God's presence is a sacred space where he works to bless us, restore us, correct us, be present with us, and renew us. Rather than fear the "terrors of the night," I now sleep with confidence. My nightly request is that God minister to me, heal me, and correct me in the night, so that I may more fully serve him and rejoice in his grace. But, my prayer is not just for me; it is also for those I love, those who struggle, those who are in pain, and those who care for others sacrificially.
Rather than having the night be an interruption of the day's activity, how are you going to embrace the work of the Lord as he grants you rest and renewal in his presence while you sleep?
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