How Going to Sleep Earlier Can Transform your Morning Prayer Time

I confess. I slept in today.

Of course, it is Saturday, so I don’t feel all that bad.

Recently, I had some back pain that was just annoying enough to keep me from falling asleep. Combine that with the usual stuff that can tempt all of us to keep thinking every night long after we should have stopped — and each of us can easily find ourselves waking up long after we should have been spending focused time in prayer.

Aargh! Er — I meant, Amen.

I’m sure you’ve had one of those nights before — especially if you have children. If it’s not a pain or a cough, it’s a child with a bloody nose, a bad dream, or some other unforeseen circumstance that messed with your typical sleeping schedule. And it caused you to get up late and either shorten your prayer time or skip it entirely.

As I wrote here, protecting our time in prayer is the single most important investment we could make each day. Yet we so often neglect it — not because we want to, but because we don’t think ahead — and sleep in. We forget that staying up an extra hour means we lose an hour of sleep on the other end of the night.

It’s true what E.M. Bounds said of prayer:

God is more ready, willing, and anxious to give the answer than man is to give the asking. ~EM Bounds

How to Sleep In — The Right Way

Some years ago, I heard a speaker at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit encourage everyone to sleep in — on the right side of the clock. In other words, if we need more sleep, plan on going to sleep earlier. Duh.

I have tried to practice it ever since. Tried, mind you, not perfected. We all face the reality of living as immortal beings within the confines of these mortal vessels.

During a recent coaching session with a busy executive, I was reminded of this truth when he shared that by the time he gets into the office in mid-morning, problems are already lining up for him. We talked about this simple method of going to sleep earlier so that he can get up earlier to enagage the day and make his problems line up for him – rather than the other way around.

At many times throughout my life, my wife and I would stay up watching television shows as a way to unwind after a busy day. First one, then another. Until it was way past any chance we would sleep in on either side of the clock. We’d wake up the next morning harried and hurried, with little to no time for focused prayer. And we paid for it.

For a season earlier this year, I went to bed at 9 PM and awoke at 4 PM. Parents will appreciate that there were very few distractions to my prayer life at that time. Now I plan on going to sleep at 9:30 PM with a wake-up call of 5 AM. Except when I blow it. Again.

Sometimes Simple Is What We Need

Here’s a simple, practical thought that could transform your prayer life: Try going to sleep earlier.

DVR that show — or skip it altogether if it’s not conforming you to the image of Christ. If you really need to escape from your life that badly, maybe you should get another life. The Kingdom is calling us to be on our knees and in the Word each morning. Answer the call to transform your world by hitting the pillow early so you can hit your knees first thing in the morning.

Would going to sleep earlier protect your time with God? What practical tips can you offer that have helped transform your prayer time? Leave a comment to help us all love with more abundant faith.

About Bill Blankschaen

Bill Blankschaen is a writer, author, and communicator who empowers people to live a story worth telling. As the founder of FaithWalkers, he equips Christians to think, live, and lead with abundant faith.

His next book entitled Live a Story Worth Telling: A FaithWalker's Guide is scheduled for release in May 2015 from Abingdon Press. His writing has been featured with Michael Hyatt, Ron Edmondson, Skip Prichard, Jeff Goins, Blueprint for Life, Catalyst Leaders, Faith Village, and many others who shall remain nameless.

Bill is a blessed husband and the father of six children with an extensive background in education and organizational leadership. He serves as VP of Content & Operations for Polymath Innovations in partnership with Patheos Labs. He is the Junior Scholar of Cultural Theology and Director of Development for the Center for Cultural Leadership. He works with a variety of ministries including Equip Leadership (founded by John C. Maxwell) when he's not visiting his second home -- Walt Disney World.

  • Gene Bernstein

    I have found this to be so true as well. I have just recently been able to get my life schedule to getting to bed between 10-11pm and up between 5:40-6:30am. With the current natural flows of our household, that gives me at least an hour, often more, in the morning to be alone with the Lord, and start my day of ahead of the day attacking me. When I do stay up late, I always end up regretting it the next day. It never works to my benefit. That I am up this Sunday morning, plenty early, has left me the time to post this comment at 6:15am, which had I slept in, I would not have had the time.
    I have learned that if I want to give the Lord the opportunity to bless me as much as he desires to, I need to be available in the mornings to him. Anything less is simply not giving the Lord all the opportunity to teach and bless me that he desires.

    • Jennifer

      I’ve found the same thing, Gene. I used to love sleeping in on the weekends, but now I find myself eager for that time alone with my thoughts and prayers. It’s a lovely way to start the day.

      • http://BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

        I confess to all that I am still working on that weekend wake-up thing! I know some of you are thinking that with six kids, it’s a wonder you wake up at all.

    • http://BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

      Well said, Gene.

  • Pingback: How to Focus on God Each and Every Morning

  • David Dawson

    I struggle to stay awake in my prayer times in the morning. I have just come across this at 1.15am after wasting 2 hours supposedly winding down playing Mahjong on my tablet. Boy you’ve challenged me – or is that God shouting loud at me ? OK ok! I’ll give it a whirl Lord, starting tomorrow night.
    So I guess I should say Thanks for the encouragement. Extra sleep; up front; good idea. I’m going to give it a shot.

    • David Dawson

      Ok. It’s 11pm. Lights out. Can I do this for even one week? We’ll see.

      • http://www.BillintheBlank.com/ Bill Blankschaen

        I heard someone teach once that if we want to sleep in we should sleep in on the front end of the clock — at night — instead of in the morning which is the most productive time of day. To be good stewards of the time given to us, we should consider how much time gets wasted by our late nights. You CAN do this!

    • David Dawson

      Well 12 days have passed. I have successfully managed earlier nights for possibly only 1/3 of this time – due to my own lack of discipline. It’s a struggle as I am a natural ‘owl’ and not a ‘lark’. Unfortunately most of my ‘owl’ activity is time wasting. However, I have had enough benefit in my morning prayer and my daily walk with the Lord to try to better this.

      • http://www.BillintheBlank.com/ Bill Blankschaen

        I’ve found most of my “owl” time to be a waste of time also. Glad you’re making progress. It’s an ongoing process to be sure! Merry Christmas!


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