Last week I enjoyed a conversation (by Skype) with some students preparing for ministry at Northwest Nazarene University. They had been reading my book The Attentive Life and had some questions (good ones!) for me.

Their prof surprised me: the most comments he had heard about the book were about a brief portion I wrote on “sleep as a spiritual discipline”!

Not surprising – for students coming to the end of a year, facing exams, and many of them also working a job or two plus ministry tasks.

The next weekend I led a one day retreat with the president of a major university in North Carolina, and friends. At the end of the day we prayed for one another. Asked for personal prayer requests this president and his wife both said: rest!

So – students and president alike with the same need. What does that say about our too busy lives?
When someone comes for a personal retreat at the nearby lake I tell them: take lots of naps! They are surprised and grateful. And they do.

I know that all of them come tired. And that we can only listen deeply to the Lord and our own hearts when fatigued minds and body have rested.

God’s prescription for a weary and discouraged Elijah was just that: two long sleeps, and food and a cool drink by a stream.

So sometimes sleep IS the most spiritual thing we can do. After all, the Psalmist said, “He gives to his beloved in sleep.”

One of the students asked me about a “theology of rest;”

Isn’t that what Sabbath is about? The seventh day? When God rested?

Sabbath time (perhaps the most neglected of the Ten Commandments) is a reminder, above all, of a great truth.

God is God. I’m not. We’re not.

So, Lord, when I am sluggish and lazy, prod me awake.

When I am weary and worn, remind me to come to You for rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary… and I will give you rest.” –Jesus
Leighton Ford.

May, 2011

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