Recently, the Lord taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of getting the proper sleep. My son had come by for a visit one evening, and we stayed up until the wee hours, watching old movies and chatting. I knew at the time that I was feeling more exhausted by the minute, but I pushed myself because I wanted to make the most of our visit together. Needless to say, the next morning, I had trouble getting out of bed. Not only that, but throughout that entire day, I felt irritable, negative, and extremely depressed. When I turned to the Lord in prayer and asked Him what was wrong, He dealt with me about my staying up too late the night before. At first, I had a hard time believing that the awful symptoms I was experiencing were caused by a lack of sleep. But after continuing to think and pray about it, I became fully persuaded that this was, indeed, the case.
Several days later, the Lord led me to an article written by a Christian physician who was talking about this very subject. He said that studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to high levels of irritability, stress, and negativity. He also mentioned that being robbed of sleep can hinder us from displaying the fruit of the Spirit. That day that I was dragging, the last thing I felt like doing was being Christlike. I was cranky and crabby, and I wanted everyone to leave me alone. I am ashamed to admit that when a loved one called me on the phone that day, needing a word of encouragement, I was very abrupt and short-tempered with her. Now, on top of feeling convicted because I didn't get the proper rest, I felt guilty because I was mistreating those around me.
One of the things I have noticed when I am exhausted is that my faith doesn't work very well. With this in mind, it shouldn't be hard for us to understand why the Bible instructs us again and again to be "alert" at all times. Scripture says: "Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up." (1 Peter 5:8-9 MSG) Exhaustion and weariness can make us more vulnerable to satanic attack. So it would be wise for us to think of robbing ourselves of the proper rest as opening the door of our lives to the devil and his evil cohorts. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to pray when you are really tired? I have. And the Bible has something to say on this subject, too. The apostle Paul wrote: "Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving." (Colossians 4:2 AMP) Try being "alert" and "intent" in prayer when you haven't had enough sleep. It's almost impossible, and it's something that we, as soldiers of Christ, can't afford.
The world's system will try to tell you that you have to work, work, work to succeed, and to provide for your loved ones in this life. But that is not God's way. Scripture says: "It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil - for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep." (Psalm 127:2 AMP) The NIV footnote on this verse says, "While they sleep He provides for those He loves." Here is God's promise to His people to shower them with blessings and provisions even while they slumber. And I believe that the key to appropriating the benefits of this promise is placing our trust in the Lord as our Provider, and looking to Him for all our needs.
The Bible contains other wonderful sleep-related promises. I like to put them in prayer form, and to pray them for myself and my loved ones on a daily basis. "Lord, I pray that when I lie down, I will not be afraid; when I lie down my sleep will be sweet." (Proverbs 3:24 NIV) I regularly thank God in advance that He will help me to get a good night's sleep. "Thank You that I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Psalm 4:8 NIV) Scripture tells us that, "God wants His loved ones to get their proper rest." (Psalm 127:2 TLB) This is not only for our own sake, but for His sake, and the sake of others. We will never be able to fulfill the call of God on our lives, or to impact the lives of others to our maximum potential, if we are constantly weary, stressed out, and unfocused. It's my prayer today that the Lord would plant these life-changing truths in your heart, so that you might take hold of the bright and blessed future that He has in store for you!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for taking my need for the proper rest and sleep so lightly. Whenever I am tempted to disobey You in this area, remind me of my responsibility to set a Christlike example at all times, and to be prepared to minister to those around me at a moment's notice. Thank You that as I obey You in this area, my faith with be firm, my praying will be powerful, and my future will be secure in You!
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