Day 36: Why Do You Sleep?

Day 36: Why Do You Sleep?

Each time Jesus returned to find His disciples had failed to follow His commands, He asked a question: “Couldn’t you watch with me one hour?” “Why do you sleep?” “Are you still sleeping?” Each of these are questions we should give serious consideration in relation to our own walk with the Lord, and, in particular, in regard to our prayer lives.

The Bible uses the word sleep in three general ways: literal physical slumber, figurative spiritual dullness, and physical death. Jesus’ questions have implications both in the literal sense and figuratively. In essence, the disciples were sleeping bodily because they were asleep spiritually. If they had been spiritually awake to Jesus’ warnings and the crucial battle raging around them in the unseen world, it would have been far more likely they could have kept alert in their bodies as well, and watchfully praying as He had instructed them.

We often set ourselves up for an overpowering susceptibility to literal sleep in a couple of ways. First, we may overdo things, filling our lives with so much activity that it exhausts us. We fail to take the seasons of rest God designed for us to need, shorting ourselves on an appropriated night’s rest, and neglecting the Sabbath rest He programmed into this world even before the Fall of Man. Eventually our body and/or mind pushes back, craving the needed sleep, and we can lapse into involuntary slumber (nodding off at the wheel or at our desk).

The converse is also true. We can get very lethargic, and the inactivity becomes a way of life, lulling us into a state of drowsy slumber. Both physical over-activity and inactivity have obvious spiritual correlations. We can get too busy to truly attend to the Lord. He gets crowded out, or relegated to a simple checklist attitude where we get it done, but don’t connect with Him with depth. Likewise, distraction by the inane or superficial things of this world causes us to lapse into a spiritual dullness. We nod off spiritually out of boredom or malaise.

The best antidote to sleepiness happens before Gethsemane. If we attend to the rhythms God has designed for the physical and spiritual balance of activity and rest, and the correct steady, daily focus on Him, when the time comes to be extraordinarily alert, we will be able to stay awake to do so.

• How would you rate your balance in activity and rest (physically and spiritually)? Do you err on one side of the scale more than the other?
• What times have you seen when this has gotten unbalanced in your life? What has been the result? Are you living in a state of balance now?
• If you’re out of whack, what do you need to get things righted?

Lord, I hear You ask, “Why do you sleep?” and I am convicted. It is so easy to get things out of perspective, and out of the divine order—to get worn out by doing good, or distracted by the world, and become spiritually dull. Enable me to get things in order, to put You first, and to maintain a life of vigilance.

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries