I don’t usually have trouble going to sleep at night – or sleeping through the night. There have been times, however, when I’ve needed to deploy a tactic to be able to go to sleep or go back to sleep when I’ve laid awake at night, fearful, worried, or afraid.
It’s something I used to tell my kids to do when they couldn’t sleep at night. You see, the reason we have trouble sleeping is usually because we are worried, or afraid – or both.
You know where that worry and fear comes from? Certainly not from God. The more we stew and fret and worry, the more our stomachs get turned into knots, and the harder it is to go to sleep or not be afraid.
A few weeks ago a little girl was spending the night at our house. She comes here to visit frequently, and there are things in her life that are not always easy. Sometimes she worries or becomes afraid.
You know what I told her to do? The same thing I practice and the same thing I told my kids to do. PRAY. I told her to start with her brother, her mommy and daddy, her grandma, and all her cousins. Then I reminded her to pray for her classroom teacher, her phys-ed teacher, her music teacher, and her principal. After that, I said, she should start praying for her classmates at school.
“You can always pray for me and for Papa Dave, and all our kids, too,” I told her.
I asked her the next morning how far she got in her praying before she went to sleep, and she said, “Like for just two; mommy and daddy.”
“Shucks,” I told her, “you never got to me?!”
The last thing the devil wants us to do is to pray. The first thing he wants us to do is worry. I call this beating the devil at his own game, and I know this works. He doesn’t want us to pray; so once we begin praying sincerely for others, he will leave us alone. Don’t believe me? You should try it.
The key to this is to focus on others instead of my personal fears, worries, and concerns. You see, to focus only on Me, Myself, and I puts the onus right back on me. I’m not saying that I don’t pray for my concerns; I’m just saying that after I’ve prayed about what is concerning me, I have to let it go or I’ll start stewing, which is exactly the devil’s intent. I have to go beyond my world and become a part of the greater picture. Focusing on the cares of others takes my mind off my own world and puts me into the spiritual realm of being part of the Kingdom.
When my kids were small, this is what I’d tell them to do. “When you can’t sleep or are worried, start praying. Start with your own family, then move to all your uncles, aunts and cousins. Then pray for everyone in your church and your classroom at school.” In the morning, I’d ask my kids how far they got in praying, and they usually never made it past all the uncles, aunts, and cousins before they were asleep.
Every one of us needs the prayers of God’s people; every one of us ought to be praying for believers. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Instead of encouraging our kids to be worried and concerned; instead of feeling sorry for them with their fears, how about teaching them to face their fears through prayer? How about helping them focus on a larger world than their own by teaching them to turn worry-time into prayer-time for others?