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.