by Pastor Tim Burt
Health specialists frequently talk about how important good sleep is yet it seems that the majority of the world does not sleep well. I can relate! Most nights I fall asleep in about 20 seconds and on rare occasion no longer than 2 minutes. That’s about my norm now and it’s a miracle for me because I grew up as an insomniac from childhood to the age of 25 years old. I am thankful beyond words to be in a better place.
I loved my childhood, my life, family and friends growing up, but hated my insomnia. I remember countless times staring at a clock all night—night after night from the time I was 11 years old. In those days, I did not know Jesus as my Savior. I had never read the Bible and wasn’t looking to the Lord for help with this problem. I would lay in bed all night either fixated on personal insecurities or worrying about something! My mother who was one of the most kind and selfless people I had ever known, was also a worrier. She considered worrying for others as being a type of compassion. That sounds wonderful but really it’s not. It’s contrary to God’s Word. Jesus taught that our worrying doesn’t change a thing. God’s Word teaches us to cast every care on the Lord and to let all our prayers and petitions be known to Him. Of course I didn’t know any of that, and like my mother, I also became that compassionate worrier. I slept horribly and worried about everything. It led to many problems in my life but then I met Jesus and my world changed. I began to learn His life-changing word.
Many parts of insomnia are self-inflicted. Eating or drinking the wrong things such as sugar or caffeine or foods that are not great to eat before bed will contribute a great deal to insomnia. I know many don’t want to hear this but excessive weight can lead to sleep apnea and other sleeping issues. God doesn’t override bad choices. He helps and strengthens you to make wiser choices that lead to deliverance from self-inflicted problems. There are many great articles and books written on that subject that will help you make wiser choices. The same goes for lighting and gadgets in your bedroom. There are definitely little light distractions that help rob people of sleep and it’s easy to google and learn more about them. But then there is the spiritual side of learning to follow God’s instructions and faith in His promises that will help rid your life of insomnia. The natural and spiritual work together to help you learn to sleep better!
For me, when I started seeking God about help with my sleep, there were simple things He led me to do. Whenever I’ve laid in bed awake for more than 15 minutes, I would sit up, grab my Bible and read. I learned not to lay in bed awake for more than 15 minutes because it soon began to feel like torment. At that point, your brain wakes up and begins to think about things that most often leads to worrying. This will not contribute to falling asleep. To the contrary, it pushes sleep further and further away. When I read my Bible, it doesn’t take long until I get sleepy, drop my Bible, shut off the light, and go back to sleep! Following that leading from God was the beginning of the end of insomnia for me.
And then there were the promises of God’s word that I began to pray about and thank God for bringing to pass in my life. When I did, a life-long battle with insomnia finally ended!
Psalm 127:2 (NLT) “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” (In other words, create boundaries for work and priorities for sleep and rest.)
Matthew 6:34 (NLT) “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (In other words, shut your mind down when you go to bed. Fall asleep thanking God for all the blessings you can think of.)
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Cast down imaginations and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (You are the master over you mind! Take control and cast out thoughts that will lead to worry. If you’ve prayed, trust God and tell Him you trust Him.)
Job 11:19 (NIV) “You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid…” (With God for you who can be against you.)
These verses help us understand that our sleeplessness is rooted in worry and fear or faith and peace. As I grew in the knowledge of God’s Word, I came to understand that worrying is like sin. It is because it’s trying to resolve present problems we are incapable in solving or worrying about fears that lie ahead instead of trusting that God has got your past and future in His hand. You have to learn to trust in His love and promises to you, and pray and turn them over to Him. Fears and worries undermine faith in God as though He didn’t care and couldn’t help! When I came to this understanding, I finally prayed this:
“Lord, you have taught me and I have truly learned that I am not in control of my life outside of you. Therefore to lay here and take on all the cares and worries about tomorrow and my future is to not trust you! Forgive me for worrying and allowing these cares to rob me of sleep. I know worrying accomplishes nothing while prayers of faith accomplish everything. I delight in knowing I can place my faith and confidence in you.” In Jesus name. Amen
It wasn’t long that I began to experience greater and greater sleep. I seldom sleep over 6 hours a night because my body simply doesn’t seem to require it. I do take a cat nap of about 10 minutes most days, but that is just about all I need for the day. I don’t use drugs or caffeine or anything else to help me sleep or stay awake. If I have a shorted night of sleep for some reason, I simply pray for God’s grace—His supernatural help and strength to get me through the day! Prayer and common sense wisdom from experts on good sleeping habits is all I need! And the greatest of all those is this promise from God. Proverbs 3:24 (NIV) “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet”
We all face real problems and we all have an enemy of our soul that would like to have us worry about everything. Jesus warned us to not let our life be weighed down with these things as they would rob our faith and sleep. Luke 21:34-36 says, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap…. Be always on the watch, and pray… “
When you have things troubling your life and you have to lean on yourself rather than having confidence in the Lord’s help—you’ll have many sleepless nights. My confidence is not in thinking I can fix all the problems and affairs of life that show up at my door. I do have to manage these things, but my confidence is in the Lord hearing my prayers, and in His promise to help me. This is the ONLY source of my peace. And it results in such great sweet sleep!
Psalm 4:8 (NLT) “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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