Falling asleep at night used to be a major challenge for me. I would lie awake and think about all the things I should have done or that I shouldn’t have done, about the things that were going to happen the next day or that I hoped would happen or hoped wouldn’t happen. I felt so frustrated lying there fretting, knowing that I was going to wake up tired instead of refreshed, and not knowing how to fix the problem.
In 1989 I had a major spiritual awakening in my life at an event held at the Oregon coast called ”Pastor’s Prayer Summit.” As a result of that four day event prayer became the highest priority of my life. I made some very lofty goals in regards to the amount of time that I was going to spend praying primarily for the people in my church. One of the things that would frustrate me was that I would fall asleep while I was praying. It made me feel like a lazy disciple of Jesus. One day I got to thinking about why prayer made me sleepy, was it boring? As I continued to ponder this for several weeks I concluded that when I prayed I relaxed, that when I prayed a peace sort of invaded my thoughts, and the result was I fell asleep. David Brainard, a missionary to the American Indians during the early years of our country was a very committed prayer warrior, and he said, ”the sweetest and most refreshing sleep is that induced by the peace that comes from prayer”. So I started praying when I went to bed. One of the problems with praying in bed is that with no list to pray from your mind will wander, and you will be right back to fretting as before.
What works for me is to memorize several lists of things to pray for and to review the list each time my mind wanders. The easiest list to memorize and to pray for was our kids, their spouses, and our grandchildren. I can lay down and start with Sarah our oldest and all her family, then move to Sandee until I have prayed for all 42 of them, 43 counting Patty. I also have the staff and their families memorized, and the Elders as well. I never get through any one of the lists and I am dead asleep. The biggest challenge I have is trying to remember where I left off the next night.