I’ve spent the majority of my life blessed with sweet sleep. Yes, most nights I get a solid eight hours. Don’t hate me. But as a result, when I do wake up during the night, it gets my attention—it’s so out of the ordinary.
I can also thank my youth pastor from years ago who said if you wake during the night, assume God has something to say. And this has proven to be very good advice that I was reminded of several times recently.
A few weekends ago I attended a women’s conference and was blessed to be seated with one of our church’s most beloved Bible teachers. As the conference got started, she mentioned she’d been up half of the previous night.
My first thought was, “Bummer!” But as I tried to offer my sympathy, she quickly waved me off saying that she’d enjoyed an especially intimate time with the Lord. She also mentioned having read in a David Jeremiah devotional that God rests our minds and bodies during the first half of the night. Then, as we awaken refreshed, we are able to hear Him more clearly in the second half of the night.
By itself that sounded pretty interesting, but even more so when, later that morning our speaker mentioned having an almost identical experience just a few days prior. She said God had awakened her at 4:30am and she knew He had something to say.
The speaker added that the intense quiet and solitude of the wee hours provided the perfect setting to amplify our ability to hear from the Lord; that there was a special sacredness to that time.
Now, in case you’re getting antsy at so much talk of experience without the use of Scripture, let’s take a look.
I’ll start off with the two passages mentioned by the conference speaker—(who, just for clarification, was Beth Moore at her annual Simulcast):
“…understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:11-12
“You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6
Yes, these are speaking of spiritual waking and sleeping, but stay with me for another minute. As I’ve been finishing up the book of Matthew, I kept noticing the phrases, “keep watch” and “be ready.” These bywords seemed to be much on Jesus’ mind during His final week on earth.
“Therefore, keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Matthew 24:42,44 emphasis added
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:13 emphasis added
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me…Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation…” Matthew 26:38, 40-41 emphasis added
Do you see how the ideas of physical and spiritual sleep seem to overlap? Perhaps a physical wakefulness at times can help us with spiritual alertness.
The Greek word used in Matthew for “watch” is gregoreuo and means—are you ready for it? “To refrain from sleep.”1 Well, there you go. It also means, “attention to God’s revelation.”2
Okay, so should I be physically awake at night? Sometimes. Why? So I can be more spiritually awake. Why? “because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Rom 13:11
1 Spiros Zodhiates, “The Complete Word Study New Testament” Lexical Aids (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, 1991), p.900 #1127