Sometime sleep comes easily and swiftly. Other nights you toss and turn, trying to quiet your heart and mind from the commotion of the previous day and the uncertainty of what the next day will bring.
Sometime you don’t know why you can’t sleep.
You replay everything in your mind or play out what might happen in the day ahead. Suddenly, you realize several hours of sleeplessness have past, which further fuels your anxiousness and sleeplessness.
Sleeplessness is exhausting, emotionally draining, physically painful. I don’t know why God has allowed you to walk through the trial of insomnia, but please know: He can bring good from this. Specifically, here are 10 things you can do to give glory to God when you can’t sleep.
1. Give every anxiety over to Him in prayer. If ruminating thoughts and stress about the past or future is keeping you up at night, consider spending that time in prayer, asking God to take your worry and give you His peace. Think through each troubling situation and ask for God’s comfort, His mercy and His wisdom as you deal with what may come. Don’t focus on the problem – focus on praying to God and reminding yourself that He is always there for you.
2. Pray for the saints. If you can’t sleep, use that time to pray for the saints. Specifically, pray for those in missions, those serving in leadership in your local church, and other members of your local church body that God brings to mind. Try going through the alphabet and thinking of one person who’s first or last name starts with A, B, C, etc.
3. Pray for the persecuted church. While you lay in the safety of your warm bed, there are many around the world who acutely feel the threat to their safety each day. Spend time praying for those who go into the most dangerous of situations to proclaim the gospel of Christ. Ask for God’s shield of protection around them. The Voice of the Martyrs has a downloadable prayer guide of the most heavily persecuted nations in the world. Pick a country and commit to praying for the Christians in that country every time you can’t sleep.
4. Commit Scripture to memory. Don’t waste the hours you can’t sleep – use them to commit God’s Word to your heart. Imagine how pleased God would be – and how frustrated Satan would be! – if you spent what might have been frustrated hours of restlessness devoted instead to writing God’s truth on your heart. Not sure what to memorize? Consider starting with the Book of Psalm. 5. Pray for the people in your home. One of the most encouraging notes I ever received was from my mother-in-law, who told me she prayed for a specific situation for me when she woke up in the middle of the night. It meant the world to me to know that as I slept, someone was praying for me in a very specific, intentional way.
6. Write letters to the lonely. If you just can’t stay in bed another minute, have something ready to do when you get out of bed. Keep a stack of cards by the couch and spend those sleepless hours writing encouraging notes to the lonely (recently divorced, widowed, incarcerated, etc.). Pray for them as you write.
7. Praise God for His faithfulness. Sometime the best way to fight the restless anxiousness that hits in the night is to recall all the ways God has been faithful to us in the past. Remembering these things can fill us with joy and set our hearts at ease… and maybe even settle us enough to fall asleep until morning. Get postcards or Post-It notes and write them down to read later. Keep a “Thankfulness Box” for times when you need to remind yourself of God’s faithfulness.
8. Read a soul-lifting book. Sometimes the best way to get back to sleep is to distract yourself with a good book for a few minutes. Often after a few minutes of reading my eyes get heavy and I can finally rest! I also like to add a cup of warm herbal tea sweetened with honey to calm my body while I try to calm my mind.
9. Give the coming day over to God. Think through the coming day, and ask God for specific mercies and graces you will need to get through each situation. If there are specific things about the coming day that are keeping you up, give those things over to God.
10. Pray for the sick. Keep up to date with the shut-ins, the sick, and grieving in your local church community and spend time at night praying for God to heal them and give His mercy and comfort to them. Then, call or write them a note the next day and let them know you were praying for them.