If we had more sleepless nights in prayer, there would be far fewer souls to have a sleepless eternal night in hell. ~ Leonard Ravenhill
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:25
Ever have one of those nights you just can’t sleep? You go to bed early (well, it was early for me, but I’m working on that), but you end up tossing and turning all night, and sleep just will not come. Worst of all, it’s always going to happen on a night when you have to get up early in the morning for something important. In this case, it was Friday night. I had to get up and go to the church to practice with the choir and praise team for our Easter Service.
So, I’d gotten my dinner over with, spent some time relaxing with my Heavenly Father as I like to do in the evenings, and I headed to bed. My mistake was most likely in working a little later than I should have, as I am a writer, and I have been trying to get through the fine tuning and editing process of a book project my late husband and I brainstormed together. I had seemed to go through several distractions throughout the day, so when that happens, I often tend to push myself a bit later, trying to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, I have recently begun to have problems with the “blue light” from my computer screen, not only contributing to migraines, but also super wiring my brain to where I will not sleep.
On this particular night, however, for some reason, I was also having heart palpitations for most of the night, and between that and my inability to get to sleep, I tossed and turned for most of the night. Then, I started itching all over. This is usually my physical reaction to stressful situations. Of course, I began to find myself praying, or perhaps, we should call it, bargaining with God. You know, that superficial type of “worry praying” that we all too often call “prayer”. It went something like this: “God, You know I have to get up in the morning, and I won’t be able to get up and go to practice if I don’t get some sleep. Please help me get to sleep.” Now, I went into actually quoting Scripture at this point (...He gives His beloved sleep…Psalm 127:2), etc.
The itching continued, along with the tossing and turning, and the “worry praying”. Still, no sleep. Then, my bladder decided to join the party. After two or three trips to the bathroom and checking the time on my phone, I huffed in frustration. 2:00 am. Then 3:00 am. I muttered another of those superficial “worry prayers”. By this time, it was looking pretty hopeless that I would be able to make the practice with my church choir and praise team members. Of course, the problem with this type of “praying” is, it’s really, as I said, worrying, or “stressing out loud” about the problems and calling it “prayer”.
That’s when I began to hear my Heavenly Father’s gentle voice reassuring me, “My child, I’m here. I’m right here, inside you. (in your heart, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior). I am not sitting off somewhere, distant and aloof to your problems. I care about you. I know what I’m doing, and I have a plan. You just need to trust me.”
That’s when I realized, I was allowing myself to look at this very real problem through the eyes of the flesh, (through our weak, human understanding). In other words, I had been doing what we all too often do. We look at the problem instead of what God can do.
Peace in the Midst of Storms…
Our Pastor has been doing a series on prayer at our church. This past week, our Bible Study lesson for Thursday night was on learning how to have “Peace in the midst of storms”. I knew God had brought me through worse nights, and way worse situations than this before, and I knew He could do it again. I knew too, that as I have answered His call to teach and preach the Word, I well knew that, as the Word well tells us, He’s going to make me “walk it out” in my daily life. That’s part of how He trains us.
So, as I began to praise Him right in the middle of this “storm” I was going through, I knew clearly what was going on. Of course, for me, a screen protector and some resetting of my work boundaries, and maybe a little schedule rearranging will prevent many more nights like this. I do have a lot going on, and, as a widow, it hasn’t been easy. But I have grown through this journey. I’ve spent more time in God’s Word and, at times, just sitting at His feet in my prayer room, than I ever have before. Now, it’s finally paying off.
I knew then, that not only was I engaged in a battle with the enemy, but I was losing it, simply because of looking at it through my frustrated, tired, human eyes, rather than focusing on His power to bring me t through it. As He began to make His loving presence known, He helped me see that, as always, He was only allowing this to happen because of what He wanted me to learn from it all. What the enemy means to use for our destruction and defeat, God wants to use to show His glory and power in our lives. He can do no more than what God allows him to.
Of course. The enemy’s plan was for me to be too tired and exhausted to be able to make the practice and be a part of our Easter celebration of our Lord. But, as the Father continued to gently remind me to just trust Him, and reassure me of His presence, I continued to praise Him. I thanked Him for the blessings He had given in my life, and, even in that storm, I began to see how blessed I truly am.
By this point, because of the rain coming (barometric pressure migraines, migraines run in my family), the migraine was now coming on stronger. So, I got up and took one of my prescription tablets for it. As I lay back down, I continued to remain in a prayerful state. Only now, I was praying the kind of prayer that gets results…praise, or “power praying”. I looked at the time on my phone again. It was now around 3:30 am. I knew if I looked at the situation through the weak eyes of my human reasoning, there was simply no way at this point that I could make the practice. But this time, I was no longer looking at it that way. I was looking at it all in the Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says, “ I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (NKJV)
I knew, as my heart rate finally began to calm down, and I began to relax, that my God would show His awesome glory and power in this situation, just as He has many times before. I had no doubt, as He continued to speak into my tired, weary spirit, “Just trust Me”, that He was well in control. That’s when it happened…
A Rare Glimpse…
Ephesians 3:20 reminds us, He is well “able to do above and beyond all that we can ask or think”. That is just what He did. All because I dared to praise Him in the middle of my storm, put my faith in Him, and look beyond the problems. As I knew I was entering into the time of what the Bible calls the “fourth watch”, you can believe, I had a “fourth watch” experience. It has changed EVERYTHING.
As He has often awakened me in early morning hours, showing me visions, He then took this opportunity to give me a rare glimpse into HIs mind. Even thinking about it now brings me to near tears. I just keep finding myself thinking, “how could I have ever not trusted Him? Say what you want, but what I experienced in the Spirit realm on this night was very real. I know, now, more than ever, that His love for us is real. So real, He sent His Son to die for us.
So, as I began to finally slip off into a restful sleep, it was then that I saw something that has changed me forever. I was seeing into what appeared to be perhaps the throne room (only, of course, not in its full glory. We could not take it as humans) I saw what appeared to be a large screen, and on this screen, He was calling out countries, and as He would call out a country, somehow, the angels made it appear on the “screen”. I was somehow aware as I saw this, that His “eye”, or His mind, is able to bring all this about (please don’t ask me to explain this, because I can’t). I heard Him call out, with such compassion and love, each of the countries, as they would then appear on this screen. I heard Him call out, “Africa!” And then, the entire map of Africa appeared on this screen. Then, as He continued to call out countries, and the angels made them appear, I then began to hear Him speaking to them, arranging divine appointments to these countries. Meetings, divinely arranged, to bring the Gospel to the people in these countries. I did not understand any of what He was saying at this point, because He was speaking too fast for me to understand. Evidently, in Heaven, they can speak faster than we can think here on earth. They could understand it fine. It’s like He was actually carrying on multiple conversations at one time, arranging all these divine appointments to these countries.
Then, as this faded out, I began to see a vision of what appeared to be His angels, all now coming together around my bed, as they all began to overlap their great wings in a kind of protective canopy over me. I don’t remember anything after that, as at that point, through the hand of my loving Heavenly Father, I slipped off into the best sleep I have had in a long time. It had to be at least 4 am before I finally got to sleep, BUT…
I woke up, a whole 30 minutes before I had originally set my alarm (He does that 🙂 ), got up and got ready for practice, AND had time to sit down for a quick devotion and a little breakfast and some coffee before heading out to the church for our practice. We all had an awesome time in the Lord. The presence of the Holy Spirit was in the sanctuary, and we had a great practice.
Oh! I saved the best part for last… 🙂
I have this picture hanging on the wall above my dear, late husband’s dresser. I see it every morning as I wake up. It was only when I woke up and saw it this morning that I made the connection. What I had experienced with the angel’s wings, was the very fulfilment of the powerful Scripture in this picture…
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler. – Psalm 91:4
So, the next time you have a sleepless night, remember you are sheltered safely under His great wings of love, if you will only trust Him. His Holy Word promises it. You see, His Word says He is no respecter of persons. What He’s done for me, He’ll do for you. After all, if He can handle everything that’s going on in this world all at the same time, He can certainly handle one of His children who happens to be having a sleepless night. You see, the same power that resurrected our Jesus from the dead that first Easter morning when He walked out of that tomb dwells in each of us, if we are only willing to receive Him! (See Romans 8:11)
He not only took care of HIs sleepless child, at the same time as He was arranging divine appointments around the world. He confirmed and fulfilled the very Scripture verse I see every morning He wakes me up to see another day. He did more than I had asked, just as He always does.
Now, just to help you go to sleep, here’s a song our choir sings. Enjoy, be blessed, and Happy Easter!
By the way, the enemy lost this battle. If we’re in Him, then we’re on the winning side. We will come out victorious every time. We have only to do what He kept telling me that night…”Just trust Me!” After all, that lovely picture the Father and I chose for this post… of the mother swan with her feathers making that beautiful, protective canopy over her babies, that was His idea as well. What better way to reassure us of His promises than by incorporating them into His creation all around us. 🙂