3 Questions I Ask Myself When I Can’t Fall Back to Sleep

Growing up my mother regularly told me, “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” It didn’t take a rocket scientist, or someone smarter, like a blogger, to know she was only trying to keep her “wild child” safe. She didn’t want to receive a phone call at three o’clock in the morning with bad news. As a mother myself, I now get this. But I’ve learned over the years that this is not a principle that can be carried into all areas of our lives…especially our spiritual lives.

What, or Who, is waking me up at night?

Why is it always 3:00 a.m.?Years ago I tossed and turned in my bed. I looked to my clock and it was 3:00, in the morning (Nope, this was not my nap time). My mind was awake, worrying about frivolous things and going through my “to do” list for the next day. It was then I felt a nudge, telling me to “get up!”

Mark was still snoring so I knew it wasn’t him. In frustration, I got up thinking I could at least work on my Bible study lesson and cross that off my “to do” list. That time in study was awesome. God gave me much clarity on the anxieties that had awoken me in the first place.

God has a habit of waking people up

A while later, I was working on another study on Samuel, when he was still a young boy  (I Samuel 3). In the middle of the night Samuel heard a voice, three times, calling his name. Once he realized it was the Lord, he received a great message from God and it was from here his own personal mission began.

After this I began to notice other times God awakened people with a powerful message. He told Gideon to get up in the middle of the night to go into battle with the Midianites (Judges 7:9).

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to get up and to escape to Egypt with Mary and Jesus (Matthew 2:13).

My favorite is when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with three of his disciples. He asked them to keep watch with Him as He prayed but instead they fell asleep. When He returned to them He woke them saying, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Makes me wonder if they would have responded differently during Jesus’ crucifixion if they had stayed awake and prayed.

Are there times I lie awake at night thinking, worrying, planning but God is actually trying to speak with me? A great bulk of my book came from journal entries that I wrote in the early hours of the night – times that God had spoken to me. Why had I forgotten this?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m awake a lot in the night. I’m a horrible sleeper. However, I do think there are times that I’m awake not because of stress, electronics, hormones, etc., but because God Himself is waking me to instruct and help me deal with the concerns of my life.

So when do I get up and when do I stay in bed? I ask myself 3 questions to help decide… 

1. Is it a quick fix?

I’ve found that if it’s an email that can be sent quickly or a backpack placed by the door – most of the time it’s best for me to get up, do it and promptly return to bed. For me personally, having it done allows my mind to rest and return to deep sleep. Others find that writing it down helps them but this is not enough for my wacky mind.

2. Is it my burden?

In my blog last week I touched on this. Often we carry burdens that are not ours to haul around. To determine this, I pray through each burden, visualizing me pulling them out of my backpack and handing them over to God to place in His backpack. Through this process I can quiet my mind and return to sleep. However, there are times it’s a burden that can’t wait.

3. Does it need my attention now?

There are times that God has called me to get up and go before Him right away. One time I had an issue involving my son and a video game. I stayed in bed praying about it but my anxiety increased so finally I got up. Once out of bed I was more focused and kept my mind from magnifying the problem. The house was quiet with no distractions.

It was during this time God gave me the solution of my son writing a proposal that I shared in a previous blog. By the way, this is still working and there have been a number of times we’ve referred back to it without fight. I’m SO thankful for God’s help on this issue.

I’m a big believer in sleep because it’s important for all areas of our health. But I’m also a believe there are times God is waking us up, inviting us to some personal one-on-one time with Him.

I’ve found when I’m obedient and get up, the freedom I receive from having my burdens removed or my problem resolved, allows me to return to quality sleep that gives me the energy needed for the next day. But, the best part is connecting with God in such a personal way. There’s nothing like realizing He sees my struggles and wants to help me work through them. Oh yeah – thank you Jesus!

So next time you struggle with sleep, ask God if it’s Him calling. If it is, follow Samuel’s example and say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (I Sam. 3:10) If He answers, be sure to get up.

Have there been times God has awoken you at night? If so, I’d love to hear your story.

What tools do you use when you find yourself away at night?




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