A prayer for sleepless nights
‘When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.’ (Proverbs 3:24)
‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night.’ (Psalm 91:1, 4-5)
‘He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.’ (Psalm 121:3-6)
‘A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”’ (Mark 4:37-40)
There are many reasons why we may experience periods of sleeplessness, for example anxiety, sorrow, nightmares, or health conditions that make it a challenge to rest. But God promises to grant sleep to those He loves (Psalm 127:2).
Take some time to prayerfully reflect on these questions, and ask God to give you peace and sleep.
- What is the reason for my sleeplessness, and how can I surrender it to God?
- Are there any practical reasons I am making it difficult to get to sleep? For example, working too late, not exercising or eating properly, too much screen time? Are there any steps I can take to wind down better?
- Jesus was able to sleep in the midst of a storm, because he trusted that his heavenly Father does not sleep, but watches over us and protects us. How does knowing that God is with you in the midst of your storms give you peace?
- What kind of prayer would help you as you prepare to sleep? You may find it helpful to use the Prayer of Examen as a way of reflecting on your day and handing it over to God. Or you may want to pray using the gift of tongues, as a way of inviting God to be present with you, but without thinking too much about your worries or concerns.
Father, Son and Spirit,
I welcome your comforting presence.
Would you still the storms that rage around me,
Bring rest to my restless mind,
And sleep to my tired body.
I surrender into your care
My busyness, and
May I sleep tonight,
Drawing comfort from the knowledge that:
I have a Father in Heaven
Who neither slumbers nor sleeps,
But has His open eyes trained on me,
Watching over me through the dark of the night.
I have a Saviour in Christ,
Who knows what it is to tire,
To need sleep for his body to recover
And to fight for rest, even in the midst of chaos.
I have a Spirit in me,
Who knows my thoughts better than I do,
And is willing and able to envelop me,
In comfort, love, and perfect peace.
This week, why not reach out to a trusted friend and talk to them about your sleeplessness. Often expressing to someone else what it is that is worrying you or stressing you out can help break the sense of loneliness that we feel. Knowing that there is someone else who understands what you are going through and is praying for you can be a powerful thing.
You may find it helpful to watch our pastoral seminar on how to have better sleep, and we also recommend Tish Harrison Warren’s book Prayer in the Night.