Prayer?

Ugh. I can’t sleep. There is so much going on at work that if something wakes me up, my mind instantly pops into gear and I start thinking about all the things I need to do and what I need to accomplish.

It’s cool how creative God makes our minds. Even when we’re not thinking about a problem, we can wake up with an “A-Ha!” (or Eureka!) and a creative solution comes to our mind. Even now, I’m thinking about a big change to the website that will fix a problem I’m having.

While it’s cool what the mind can do, we have a word to describe what happens when we wake up and our mind takes off. It’s called worry.

When I worry, I usually end up with less sleep, more stress, more irritation and less peace.

So I have a practice I am trying to use when I wake up and my mind starts swirling around with thoughts about troubles I’ve encountered yesterday or will encounter today. My practice is to use that time to pray.

I choose to use that time for prayer because I think it is a better use of my time than to worry. I also hope that as I talk to God, I will calm down and be able to say, “Talk to You later,” and then go back to sleep.

Paul writes to the Corinthians, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” And that is what I think of when I stop worrying so I can talk to God.

My strategy when talking to God in these moments is to start out by saying “Hi.” Then I say, “I’m coming to talk to you God because I trust you.” If you take up my practice, you can tell God how you’re feeling or thinking about Him. Maybe you want to say, “I’m coming to talk to you God, because I believe you can help me.” Or “I love you.” Or “I’m mad at you.” You can use your own feelings. Then I say, “At this moment I’m feeling stressed about …” and then I briefly tell Him why I’m awake. For me, it’s key that it’s brief so I don’t just make it an excuse to worry. I try to limit it to one sentence: “I’m worried about the website.” Or, “I’m worried about work.”

Then I talk to God about how wonderful He is. I tell Him that I’m thankful for my job. I tell Him how I have seen Him at work in the world. I tell Him that His creation is beautiful. I tell Him I’m amazed by His mercy. I tell Him I’m thankful for the leaders he’s brought to Hoboken Grace.

Then I go on to talk about other things. I tell Him that I’m worried about my friend who is battling cancer and ask Him to give her strength. I ask Him his advice about a situation I’m facing. I ask Him to help me to follow Him closely.

Again, I try not to dwell too long on any one issue because if I do, my mind will wander off and I’ll forget to talk to God.

If I find I’ve forgotten that I’m talking to God and I’ve started worrying again, I just come back to God and say, “Ulp. Sorry about that. My mind wandered away from what we were talking about. I’m back now. Where were we?” And then I go back to talking to God.

After a little while, I’ll tell Him, “Ok, well that’s all I wanted to say for now. I’m going to try to go back to sleep and I’ll talk to you later.”

As I explain to you what I do, I’m thinking I should also say “Love you.” And “Goodnight.” After all, that is what I would say to the people I’m closest to if I were hanging up the phone or turning over to go back to sleep; why don’t I say those things to God, too?

Well, at the end of the day, the practice is not an end to itself. It’s not important what words I use. It’s to remind me that God is present in all my circumstances and that He cares about me. It’s to remind me to include God in what’s going on in my life and to invite Him into all that’s important to me.

I find that this practice has made me more mindful of the love God has for me, and I hope it does for you too.

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