We’ve all had them, right? You know, those 3am wake-up times when thoughts are spinning, anxieties are mounting and you’ve tossed and turned so much it’s hard to tell the fitted sheet from the flat? Sometimes I can attribute it to a dinner item that wasn’t my best choice or a movie plot still engaging my subconscious. But when I can’t put my finger on what caused me to wake so suddenly, I’ve learned to crawl out of bed and move to my prayer corner. When at home, that corner is my comfy chair where my bible and journal are stacked beside it. On our recent trip to London though, I was 3,000 miles from my comfy chair and in a small hotel room with a blissfully-unaware sleeping hubby. Thankfully I was able to grab my iPad (aka journal/bible/notekeeper) and curl up in a chair without waking him. As I journaled my prayer thoughts, this is how it went. Who am I praying for, Lord? This is usually my first question, unless He woke me with a name on my mind. This particular night, 2 daughters and son-in-laws were flying from Togo, W. Africa to meet us in London and we had gone to bed praying for their travels so I knew they were the ones I was to pray for. What is their need, Lord? I find that it’s critical for me to ask Him, because my mind can make up lots of scenarios based on fact or fiction. This night, I didn’t hear Him telling me the need, so I went to the next step. Praying a passage On this night, God led me to Psalm 91 to pray through a variety of needs. Copying the passage into my Goodnotes app, I highlighted key power promises to pray over our family members. I journaled in the margins any thoughts He brought to mind, but mostly prayed the power and presence of God in their circumstances. I still didn’t feel peace, so I looked up the Hebrew of some key words and then journaled more on those definitions. One new revelation to me was the word abide in Psalm 91:1 actually means to ‘pass the night’. It was as if God was telling me that they would pass the night in the shadow of the Almighty. This personal word gave me peace that God was listening and actively at work in whatever situation they were facing. It also gave me the peace to go back to sleep after an hour of praying.
When we woke the next morning, our family text told us that the flight leaving Togo was delayed, but hopefully they’d make the next flight in Casablanca. I texted how I'd been praying during the night and sent a screenshot of my journal. Later when we were all reunited in London, Jess revealed just how precarious their flight connection had been. If the delayed flight had caused them to miss the connection, it would have been 2 more days before the next flight to London! Two days was all the time we had together in London and we had those days packed with events and reservations. God knew what needed to happen when I was wrestling with anxious thoughts. His Word gave me specifics to pray even when I did not know what to pray for.
Praying is the best sleep aid
I don’t want to sound like I always get it right by praying my way through a sleepless night. There are times I make to-do lists, play solitaire, read novels or self-medicate when I can’t sleep. On my sleepless night in London, I had taken TylenolPM before going to bed only to wake 2 hours later. But after reading and journaling Psalm 91 for over an hour, the rest and sleep that followed was perfect. Giving my cares to the God of the universe was better than any medicine to sedate my mind. And when I learned how partnering with God impacted the flight and timely arrival of our loved ones, you can be sure I’lll be waiting for my next 3am assignment.
“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth,” Isaiah 43:5-6 ESV