Spiritual Doubt, and Sleep. And a Prayer.
Pastor Kevin DeYoung’s book Crazy Busy (one of the great sources of our series and from which we borrowed the great title) is subtitled A (Mercifully) Short Book About A (Really) Big Problem. Kevin is a good pastor and theologian and he thinks and writes with clarity and helpfulness.
In his book he quotes one of my favorite Professors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. D. A. Carson, about how our sleep can bring glory to God!
(No, I never slept in one of Carson’s classes! He’s so passionate for God you just can’t sleep when he’s teaching from God’s Word. He's the President of the Gospel Coaltion. He's one of the best New Testament scholars in the world. Go here for his wonderfully rich daily reading of God's Word blog.)
Here’s Kevin, and his words from Dr. Carson:
When I read D. A. Carson’s sermon on religious doubt a few years ago, I was struck that one of his six possible causes for doubt was “sleep deprivation.” Here’s one of the best scholars in the world telling us that we may be spiritually obligated to take a nap! Don’t ignore his counsel:
If you keep burning the candle at both ends, sooner or later you will indulge in more and more mean cynicism—and the line between cynicism and doubt is a very thin one. Of course, different individuals require different numbers of hours of sleep; moreover, some cope with a bit of tiredness better than others. Nevertheless, if you are among those who become nasty, cynical, or even full of doubt when you are missing your sleep, you are morally obligated to try to get the sleep you need. We are whole, complicated beings: our physical existence is tied up to our spiritual well-being, to our mental outlook, to our relationships with others, including our relationship with God.
Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep—not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you to get the sleep your body needs.
And here’s a prayer by John Baillie from his volume, A Diary of Private Prayer, as we lay ourselves down to sleep. The language may be old English and a bit hard to decipher in our tweeter age, but the thoughts are worth prayerful time pondering.
O eternal Being, Thou livest in everlasting light; now, as the world’s light fails, I seek the brightness of Thy presence. Thou knowest no weariness; now, as my limbs grow heavy and my spirit begins to flag, I commit my soul to Thee. Thou slumberest never; now, as I lie down to sleep, I cast myself upon Thy care. Thou keepest watch eternally; now, when I lie helpless, I rely upon Thy love . . . Before I sleep, I would for a moment rejoice in the loves and friendships wherewith thou has blessed my life . . . whom now, with my own soul, I entrust to Thy keeping through the hours of darkness. And for all who this night have no where to lay their heads or who, though lying down, cannot sleep for pain or for anxiety, I crave Thy pity in the name of our Lord Christ. Amen.
You can listen to or download Pastor Gary’s message, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep here, part of our Crazy Busy message series.