From time to time, Monica or I (you’ll have to guess who) am asleep by the time the other is done praying at bedtime. Sometimes we chuckle about it. Sometimes it makes us feel guilty.
Then I read this in Kevin G. Harney’s book Seismic Shifts (it’s a long quote but worth reading)…
[This is] a picture that captures the heart of prayer. It comes from a confession I have heard many Christians make over the years: “I feel guilty because there are many evenings I try to pray but end up falling asleep right in the middle of my prayer time.” These people feel they let God down each time they doze off before uttering their official Amen for the day.
This is what I tell them, and I hope it speaks to your heart.
Imagine a mother cradling her 5-year-old girl in her arms. It is the end of the day, and the two are talking. The mom is telling her about the plans for tomorrow. The little girl is talking about the fun she had that day. As the daughter talks, she yawns and rubs her eyes. They keep chatting, but the little girl is fading quickly. The mother looks down at the one she loves so tenderly. As they are talking, in midsentence, her little girl falls asleep, right in her arms.
How does the mother feel? Is she angry? Disappointed?
As the mother looks on her precious daughter, she smiles and rejoices. There is no other place she would rather have her little girl fall asleep.
When we end our day with God and we happen to doze off, he is not angry or disappointed. He holds us in his arms, embraces us, and gives us a kiss on the forehead. God loves to be with us, to speak to us, and hear what is on our hearts. And if we happen to fall asleep in his arms, it brings joy to his heart. There is no better place for us to end a busy day. (pages 95-96)
Granted, if I consistently fall asleep while praying because talking with God has become boring or I consign him only the final few drowsy moments of a too-busy day, it might be a good idea to rethink my prayer habits. However, if I fall asleep in the loving and familiar embrace of our Father’s love, well, what father won’t be filled with deep satisfaction and joy?
I think also of how sleep (and sleeping securely in safety) is a gift for which the psalmist prays (here and here). I like imagining God answering that request even before the psalmist is finished asking for it!
I wrote this column for The Rock Valley Bee.
It combines a couple of popular blog posts I wrote
soon after I started blogging.