Ahhhh, I’ve reached that stage in life where I do not sleep well most nights. Up and down. Knees hurt, feet hurt. I hate taking pills stronger than an Advil so this is not a cry for sleep aids!!
What I do want to write about though is one thing that does help me get back to sleep when I am not dealing with the aching knees or gouty feet.
I pick a verse(s) of Scripture and say it over and over in my mind and it almost always settles me down, calms any anxieties or fears and I go back to sleep. Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trust in You.” It works; it truly does. The other night when I was worrying about all the evil in the world/this country/my town, right down to my neighborhood, the verse that came to mind was John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me.”
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Be anxious about nothing but pray about everything. I have literally been doing this for quite some time now and it is a WONDERFUL tool that works amazingly.
I don’t know why, but I didn’t cling to the promises of God, of Jesus, literally, when I was going to meetings like I do now. I don’t think too many others did either. The reason I say that is because now when I might mention to a professing friend or relative how I am now literally putting God’s Word to the test, they are noticeably uncomfortable. Are they uncomfortable because I am the one quoting Scripture and I shouldn’t be because I now have no right to do that because I don’t go to meetings anymore? Or are they uncomfortable because I am using Scripture in my every day conversation? Or would they be uncomfortable talking about any Scripture outside of a meeting setting? I don’t know. I wonder if I was still going to meetings and was talking about Scripture to the degree I am writing about, how it would be received. I don’t know the answer to that either.
Another verse I pray often is “Deliver me from evil.” Jesus suggested we pray that and I do. I have been praying that for years now.
Another source of help I discovered a while back that helps me rest at night is a wonderful book of prayers called “Yours is the Day, Lord….Yours is the Night” by Jeanie and David Gushee. In the introduction of this book, the authors write: This book “includes Christian prayers from every continent in the habitable world. We primarily designed it with individuals in mind, to assist Christians in their daily prayer times with God. This book is not meant to serve as a substitute for spontaneous Christian prayers but as a springboard for them. We hope you will use these morning prayers as we do — as a way to wake up and greet the new day with God, inspired by the noble aspirations of some of the heroes of the faith, followed by talking with God about the feelings in our own hearts. The evening prayers close the day, asking for God’s blessing as we lose ourselves to sleep. We find that they combine nicely with a personal prayer as we drift off, thanking God for the good aspects of the day just concluded.” What I love the most is the authors of the prayers they have compiled span decades and centuries. I love the honest and often eloquent prayers of individuals who may have lived centuries ago and yet obviously had a very real and relevant relationship with God.
I want to conclude this post by copying a few of the evening prayers I love the most. Again, I highly recommend this book. It is beautiful.
For New Year’s Day it was:
Grant, O Lord,
That as the years change,
I may find rest in Your eternal changelessness
secure in the faith that,
while we come and go,
and life changes around us,
You are always the same,
Guiding us with Your wisdom,
and protecting us with Your love.
Amen (William Temple 1881-1944)
Watch, dear Lord,
with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight,
and give Your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend Your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest Your weary ones.
bless your dying ones,
soothe Your suffering ones,
pity your afflicted ones,
shield your joyous ones,
and all for Your love’s sake.
Amen (Augustine of Hippo 354-430)
Abide with me,
Fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens,
Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail
And comforts flee,
Help of the helpless,
O abide with me.
Amen (Henry Francis Lyte 1793-1847)
Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm
Still me, O Lord; keep me from harm.
Let all the storms within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.
Amen (Celtic prayer)
O Merciful God, eternal light, shining in darkness…
since Thou has appointed the night for rest and the day for labor,
we beseech Thee grant that our bodies may rest in peace and quietness,
that afterward they may be able to endure the labor they must bear….
Defend us against all the assaults of the devil and take us
Into Thy holy protection.
And although we have not passed this day
without greatly sinning against Thee,
we beseech Thee to hide our sins with Thy mercy,
as Thou hidest all things on Earth with the darkness of the night….
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen (John Calvin 1509-1564)