Psalms and Prayers for Sleep

5 min read

Do you struggle to get to sleep sometimes? Whether it’s a problem that you can’t stop thinking about, or if you don’t know what is causing it, insomnia can really affect your quality of life. So what can we do when we’re struggling to sleep? First of all, I have a few quick-fire tips for those struggling with insomnia, followed by some scriptures and a prayer for sleep.

1. Don’t give yourself hurdles before sleep

Firstly, don’t make it harder for yourself than it needs to be.

Turn off screens one hour before bedtime. Yes, it can be tempting to binge on TV, especially as the nights draw in over winter, but blue light tricks our brains into thinking that it’s the day which doesn’t help when trying to settle down to sleep.

Avoid caffeine in the latter part of the day. It is a stimulant and ideally, you shouldn’t drink it from 4-6 hours before you are settling down to sleep.

2. Your body loves routine before bed

If we teach our bodies a rhythm of getting ready to sleep, then just by carrying out our normal evening routine, we are signaling to our bodies that it is time to rest. So whatever it is that you normally do, follow the steps in the same sequence if you can. Perhaps you take a bath or shower, have a hot drink, journal, read in bed, or listen to a calming audiobook. (The Glorify App has devotionals and narrated Bible passages which might be a good fit here). Obviously, this is personal to you and how you unwind, but each step signals to your body that it is time to rest.

3. Write down your worries to help you sleep

If there’s something that’s playing on your mind that you know is preventing you from sleeping, then bring it to God as a prayer before you sleep. When I have an issue that I am dealing with, and that I can’t stop thinking about, I write it down, along with all the stress and worry that I am feeling, and then I am able to let it go. Why not keep a notebook by your bedside for this very reason?

4. Finish the day in prayer for a peaceful night’s sleep

It’s a great idea to finish the day in prayer. Reflect on the day. Give thanks for one good thing that has happened today and bring one hard thing to God. Pray out of these situations and emotions. In this way, we learn to bring our whole lives to God, the good and the bad. This is known as The Examen and you can read more about the practice in this blog post.

The night sky, prayer for sleep
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash.

5. Dealing with insomnia in the night

Sometimes, with the best will in the world, and all the different things that we try, we still can’t drift off. The Glorify App has soothing playlists and gentle devotionals which may help at this time. As we read or listen to scripture, and lift up the truth of God’s word over our circumstances, it will transform our lives.

There are several steps to this:

  1. Read His word, and let it sink into your soul.
  2. Read it out loud. We may not realize it, but declaring God’s word aloud makes a difference. A friend, who was struggling with anxiety during the night, told me that to combat it, he literally spoke Bible verses out loud to deal with his anxious thoughts and it really helped him.
  3. Memorize scripture. It may seem a little old-fashioned, and a little Sunday School-like, but memorizing scripture is an incredibly powerful weapon. If we can call to mind the truth of God, then we can remind our souls and minds of the truth, wherever we are.

Listen

Have you ever asked the Lord if He wants to talk to you in these night wakings? When I have had periods of struggling to sleep, I have sometimes wondered if God has woken me up just so He’ll get my full attention. I’m sure I have had some of my best ideas in the early hours of the morning too, so next time you wake up with no good reason, remember the story of Samuel and Eli:

“Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:8-9).

Even while you are saying a prayer for sleep, be ready for God to speak to you, in the busyness of the day and the quietness of the night.

With all of these points in mind, here are my top five scriptures for when you can’t get to sleep. All verses are NIV unless otherwise stated.

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, keep me safe.”

Psalm 4:8

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? […] If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

Psalm 139:7-12

“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

Proverbs 3:24

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:21-23 (ESV)

To end, here is a prayer for sleep.

“Father, thank you that you are here with me now. Thank you that the darkness is as light to you. Take away my worries now Lord, I give them all to you. Give me your peace instead. And Lord, if there’s anything you want to say to me now, speak for I am listening.”

Be blessed in your sleeping and your waking.

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