I started falling asleep to the tv in high school. With the right volume and show running in the background, I could finally clear my mind and find rest. With marriage came improvisation. Now I sleep with earbuds and find it much more difficult to doze off. When I do sleep, it’s not restful.
I’ve noticed my new stressful sleep is often linked to whatever I’m listening to. There is something happening psychologically when the sound is shot directly into the ear. It’s like it’s bypassing layers of filters and getting implemented into my subconscience. It’s become enough of an issue that I’ve tried to remove them and just fall asleep without any artificial aid.
Now I struggle with the lesser of two evils. A chance that my favorite shows will help provoke stress induced panic attacks… or face the deafening quiet and my ever-wandering, also wakened mind?
The quiet is loud. I hear every breath, every squeak and creak of the house. Some nights I’d swear I could hear the cats blinking. The heat kicks in. The bed cracks, the house settles, the ice falls in the freezer, it’s like a riotous prison!
Worse is that I have no control of my mind. It wanders into ludicrous places leaving me captive to further pondering when I should be watching sheep jumping fences with cartoon Z’s over their heads.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Why is this so difficult? To simply stop. To stop being a receiver for all the world wants to feed into us? God wants to speak to us, to feed us Godly things, but how often do we truly give Him the platform to do so?
When I was very young, before the crux of a tv to fend with, I would pray as I lay in bed and would often fall asleep talking to God. I remember explaining to a Sunday school teacher, when learning about confession, that I was such a horrible person that I couldn’t finish talking to my Savior without falling asleep. I felt real guilt that I didn’t finish and assumed I really let God down.
I still remember the man’s response. “Don’t you think it pleases God that He was the last thought on your mind as you fell asleep? Don’t you think He knows you were trying and actually communicating? For many husbands and wives, their favorite time of day is to crawl into bed at night and talk until they fall asleep. If anything, I would say you are doing it right. The Bible says to pray without ceasing… and going up until the dreams kick in is pretty much following that to the letter.”
But I’ve saturated my senses with decades of noise. I need noise to block out other noises. The lack of sound is more audio than I can bear… or so I am deceived into believing. How devilishly tricky! Such a simple thing. But look at the magnitude of what it costs. Precious moments with the only thing worthy of my time.
The Bible speaks a bit about prayer. It mentions solitude and private. There is a reason. Imagine trying to take a written exam on a plane that is crashing… weird and silly, right? Also impossible. I think this is close to what we do when we try to fit God in over the tv, radio, tablet, computer, internet, smart phone, and any other manner of distraction we throw into our lives. It’s simply not possible to do. Way too many bumps, spirals, swerves… and of course the unfortunate crash at the end.
Communicating with God can happen in quick bursts, in thought, surrounding your entire day. That shouldn’t change. But GROWING in God, living IN Him, emblazoning His name on your life… that requires real prayer. Biblical prayer. Worn knees. Teary eyes. Devoted time. Sincere and uninterrupted talks with time specifically included for listening. And here is the part I think we most will cringe at if you allow your self conscience unassisted access to you true and unfiltered habits… frequency. Is this just something you do around Christmas and Easter? Is this more of a once a month thing? Do you think corporate prayer covers this?
No one in history has had more justification to exempt Himself from private prayer time than Jesus. And let me explain what I mean by that. He was actively doing His Father’s will. He was followed by thousands and healing them and saving them. He was DOING the task at hand (in mid-sacrifice mode). Nothing was more criticle to US than seeing this man. So it might be excusable for Him to say, ‘do as I say and not as I do… I’m here for you, once I’m gone, you should pray better’. And yet, with such a massive and important, and time bound mission, He still separated Himself and prayed (Just like He wants us to do). It wasn’t that we weren’t worth His time… it’s because we were worth His prayers.
So let’s use this as an example of how frequently we should specifically set aside private time to pray and listen to God. To follow scripture and to put it simply, this should be the most important thing we do in our lives. And… the closer we want to be to God, the more we need to do this. It almost sounds like a paradox, but it isn’t. The more stressed we are, the more we need to pray. The busier we get, the more time we need to set aside to pray. The more angry, the more sad, the louder life gets… prayer isn’t meant to be another bullet point on the list… it’s what makes the list doable.
Nothing makes me happier than when people stop what they are doing to pray over something. I had lunch with an amazing friend the other day and he did this. He could have asked me to pray later and I would have agreed and maybe even remembered to. But instead, He put God where He belongs. Front and center. It’s important. Prayer is important. And when you see prayer and use prayer as a gift from God, then the scripture to pray without ceasing is no longer a command we follow… it’s who we are. We belong to Christ and we pray forever! We don’t fit God into our schedule… we live out God’s schedule.