By Greg Laurie, Crosswalk.com
It is 3:00 AM, the house is quiet, your family members are asleep, it is warm, it is dark, and you should be asleep too... but your mind is racing, your heart is pounding, and worries overwhelm you.
You might be thinking about the pressing needs of a tomorrow that will find you unprepared. Perhaps the 24-hour news cycle has you panicked about the latest global ordeal. Or it may be an area of personal concern: finances, relationships, or employment.
You may even find yourself in a place where you are continually out of hope and out of peace—a place that points to a spiritual separation from God that leaves you vulnerable and open to attacks of anxiety from the enemy.
There is something about this part of the night that seems to magnify all of these problems, and I am not sure exactly why that is. But it is real.
I am convinced that we need God’s help, not only when we are alert and awake, but even when we are sleeping. As you get ready to go to sleep, I think that it is a great thing to end the day in prayer. It has been said that God works the nightshift, and it is so true.
But perhaps the key to getting a good night’s sleep actually begins much earlier in the day.
It Starts in the Morning
One first step to ending your day well is starting your day well. Start your day in prayer, committing your decisions, your challenges, and whatever you are going to face that day to the Lord.
Here’s the reality: When you get up in the morning, you make the choice whether you will walk in the Spirit or walk in the flesh. And the best way to avoid going backward spiritually is to go forward in the Spirit.
What’s your goal when you get out of bed in the morning?
Or rather, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What keeps you going, even through heartaches and trials and disappointments?
It doesn’t have to be a full agenda. For the apostle Paul, it was a single objective.
In Philippians 3:13–14, Paul said, “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NKJV).
Paul said, “But one thing I do.” He didn’t say, “Twelve things I dabble at.” In other words, Paul’s life had a strong focus that helped him prioritize everything else.
King David had a single goal as well.
David wrote, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4 KJV). He was saying that one thing that really excited him was spending time in the presence of God.
Mary knew this. When Jesus came to visit her and her sister Martha in the little village of Bethany, she sat down at His feet, absolutely riveted by everything He had to say.
Martha, a hardworking woman, wanted to impress the Lord with the fine meal she was preparing. Who wouldn’t, if you had a guest like Jesus? Can you imagine Jesus showing up at your house? You would want to offer Him your best, right? You wouldn’t give Him a microwave dinner or reheated food from last night. You would want to prepare a special meal.
As Martha was working away, she undoubtedly kept looking for Mary. Where is Mary? I can’t believe she’s not in here. Finally in frustration, she came out—probably with her hands on her hips—and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41–42 NKJV).
Mary figured out one thing, and that was the importance of sitting at Jesus’ feet. What’s your “one thing”?
Prayer in the Morning, Prayer at Night
If you’ve started your day in prayer, and made it your purpose to pursue that “one thing”—to be in His presence throughout the day, it will come naturally to end your day with prayer as well.
The worries and the cares that can accumulate should be offered to God, so that your head hits the pillow free from anxiety. In each instance, your prayer should be, “Lord, here it is. I commit it to You.”
It reminds me of a quote from Martin Luther: “Pray and let God worry.” I like that. Not that God worries, but the idea is that you should pray about it, rather than worry about it. That is really the secret.
Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).
The next time you are gripped by fear and worry, the next time you start thinking, “What if this happens? What if that happens?” turn it into a prayer. Look to the Lord and let Him give you His peace.
Let me ask you right now, is there something troubling you? Is there something eating away at you? Bothering you? Irritating you? Causing you to be afraid? Keeping you up at night?
Pray about it, right now. Just say, “Lord, I can’t handle it. Please take the burden from me.” You’ll find that the peace of God that passes all human understanding will keep watch over your heart and mind.
So don’t worry. Pray. You will sleep, and live, much better.
Image courtesy: ©Getty Images / Tero Vesalainen
Pastor Greg Laurie serves as the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, which has campuses in Southern California and Hawaii. He is the author of more than 70 books, hosts the nationally syndicated radio broadcast A New Beginning, and is the founder of Harvest Crusades and Harvest at Home.