What keeps you awake at night?
Do you lie down to sleep only to find that sleep avoids you?
Instead of counting sheep, you count your problems. Or you replay a conversation you wish you could re-do? Or you add to-dos to tomorrow’s list instead of finishing today?
We often lie down to sleep, but our thoughts hold such a tight grip that sleep doesn’t come. We grip at the past. Our minds spin, grasping for answers for the future. Or we clutch present fears tighter than we clutch the pillow .
But God made us to sleep. It’s a daily reminder that he is God; we are not.
Sleep is a daily practice of letting go. In sleep we surrender. In sleep we loosen our grip on life. We let go of control long enough to receive rest.
Instead of letting go though, we’re more like the toddler with droopy eyelids who fervently resists rest. We resist going to bed with one more task to accomplish, one more show to distract, or a few more scrolls on the screen. And once we actually lie down, we resist sleep with worries, fears and regrets. Or sometimes plain excitement keeps us awake.
Today I want to share with you, “A Prayer to Sleep”. I adapted it from various verses in the Psalms about lying down to sleep. It’s a bedtime prayer that will help you finish the day resting in God. It’s a prayer that will help you let go so you can receive rest.
The prayer follows the flow of this simple acronym – R.E.S.T. It represents four habits listed in the Psalms to practice when you lie down to sleep. (And R.E.S.T. helps me remember the flow of the prayer.)
- Remember God. He watches over you, protects you and hears your prayers.
- Entrust the day to him. Let go of the day, the good and the bad, with gratitude that God accepts the offering of the day just as it is. Release the day for rest instead of clinging to it for a re-do.
- Speak your fears. Name them. And let go of them. Simply naming them diminishes the space they occupy in your thoughts. Giving them to God puts them in better hands and it frees you up to receive.
- Trust the Lord. You can sleep because you trust the Lord to be with you. You trust that he ministers to you even through the watches of the night.
Try using this prayer when you lie down to sleep. Feel free to print a copy of this to keep by your bed at night to pray when you lie down. Or make this your final screen scroll at the end of the day. Pray the whole thing. Choose a phrase from it to repeat with deep breaths. Or meditate on a portion of it.
My hope for you is that these words from the Psalms give you rest when you lie down to sleep.
A Prayer to Sleep
I lie down to sleep, O Lord.
By day you send your love to me,
even at night you counsel my heart.
At night your song is with me,
it’s my prayer to you, the God of my life.
I lie down and remember you, O Lord,
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you
and your right hand upholds me.
I lie down and search my heart, O Lord.
I am silent before you.
Let the offering of this day be pleasing to you.
I trust in you, O Lord.
(Entrust the day to God just as it is, as an offering to Him.
Give thanks for the good, let go of the bad.)
I lie down to sleep, O Lord;
And I will wake again because you sustain me.
You fill my heart with greater joy
than the abounding riches of others.
I lie down and sleep in peace, O Lord,
For you alone make me dwell in safety.
I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.
I will not fear…
(Name the fears you entrust to the Lord.)
I trust in you, O Lord, for you are with me.
I lie down and sleep, O Lord,
because you are a shield around me.
You give me glory and lift up my head.
You lift my spirits when I am distressed.
You answer me when I call out to you.
I lie down and sleep, O Lord,
because you are merciful and hear my prayers.
I lie down, O Lord.
I trust you.
“A Prayer to Sleep” is adapted primarily from Psalm 3 & 4, other references include Psalm16:7, 63:6, 42:8