Upon Awakening in the Middle of the Night

I hate waking up in the middle of the night.

Mostly because my mind begins to think hard and I can’t seem to turn it off. When this happens to my husband, he recites the Jesus prayer, “O Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Which puts him right back to sleep.

Not me.

I toss and turn, but can never quite get comfortable. Occasionally I will jot down (in the dark) important things that come to mind so I won’t forget them. Mostly my thoughts wander – and these days there are way too many dangerous subjects for minds to recall in the tired darkness.

The psalmist had the same problem way back when: “I was up before sunrise, crying for help, hoping for a word from you. I stayed awake all night, prayerfully pondering your promise. In your love, listen to me; in your justice, God, keep me alive.” Psalm 119.147-148 MSG

So, I eventually decide that if I’m awake anyway, I may as well be productive. I begin to remember before God my loved ones and all their concerns. Then I try to remember a biblical promise to match each one.

These are also the moments that the Holy Spirit often triggers recall of my own sin – harsh words, impatience, neglect, waste, or a choice I knew was bad even as I made it. Sometimes I lie there “crying for help, hoping for a word from you,” in my fear, shame, or discouragement.

In the quiet darkness, God often sends a word – the Holy Spirit prompts my memory with a Bible passage, lyrics, or a remembered conversation that seems timely now. Once comforted, I choose to offer names to Him in my sleepy stupor.

Always “Mama” for I know my elderly mother awakens alone in pain all through the night. But I also remember those who have no one to pray for them – the wanderers, the homeless, the lonely, the elderly.

What do you do upon awakening in the middle of the night?

Next time, will you turn your thoughts to the One who knows you best and loves you most? He is always awake.

More times than not, I eventually fall asleep again. God, in His mercy, grants me the peace of rest and restoration.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength”

©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

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Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouragement at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com

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4 Comments

  1. Lillian Morley on July 22, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Yes, sleepless nights come all too often in these days of isolation at soon to be age 78, but for the sense of His presence, they would be overwhelming. Kids and grandkids in PA, MO, WY–too far to visit easily. Your words challenge me to remember that there is no distance w/God. He is near to me and each of those loved ones. Prayers in the night are balm to the troubled heart and mind. Worship is what is needed for all that has been given in His faithful attendance to every need. His hand is open for us to take and allow him to quell the storm in our souls in the night and the day. God is good all the time!

  2. Maggie Rowe on July 22, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    Many of us can relate, especially as we get older. Mike and I were both awake in the middle of last night. Thank you for this good word, Cindy.

  3. Karl Merritt on July 22, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    I have sleepless nights. In fact, I had one night before last. My mind did the wandering you mentioned and described so well. I did a bit of praying, but not to the extent you described. My response to my sleeplessness was clearly not as productive as yours appears to be. Thanks for sharing how I might make what is a dreaded experience far more productive and pleasant.

  4. Maureen on July 25, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Sometimes I just say the name of Jesus, over and over. I heard a story once of a little boy who was quietly reciting the alphabet. His momma overheard him, and she asked, “Why are you saying your ABCs?” to which the little guy replied something like, “You’ve said we’re to pray about everything but I don’t know how to pray. So I am giving God whole the alphabet like a prayer, because that’s something I do know.” The story was so sweet and something to which I can relate–especially in the dark of night when our minds wander. Sometimes we just don’t know what to say… but the Name of Jesus! That, like the little boy’s recitation of the ABCs, is a perfect prayer! Love you, friend.

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