“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:28 NIV)
Like most pastors, I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking about and worrying over people in the congregation that I serve. I guess that other professionals — doctors, teachers, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and counsellors — experience the same kind of sleepless nights. Like them, I carry around in my heart and mind the many circumstances, issues, and even secrets that the people under my care have shared with me. At times, those burdens are hard to carry, so at night, I sometimes lose sleep by worrying about the church folks.
The good thing about this is that I also get some quiet time to pray for their situations. During the day, there is a lot going on, and finding a quiet place or time can be hard to do. However, in the wee small hours of the morning, I can quietly come to God to pray for the healing, help, or wholeness that people need. I can whisper their names to God and ask for strength, guidance, and grace to be given to them. Usually, when I have about finished my prayers, sleep begins to drift over me, so I can return to my bed and get beneath the warm blankets.
When I read today’s verse from the apostle Paul, the first thought that crossed my mind was that “He gets it.” We tend to think about Paul being a fearless preacher who faced many dangerous and life-threatening moments in his ministry. But he was also a pastor who had a heart for the people whom he met — this is why he writes of the daily pressure that he endures because of his concern for all of the churches about which he cared. I believe that Paul, too, had some sleepless nights and quiet moments of prayer for the church folks whom he knew.
Maybe you’ve been waking up at night because of family, work, school, or health issues. Perhaps you are worried about money or concerned about the future. Let me humbly suggest that you use those sleepless times effectively by seeing them as sacred moments when the Holy Spirit is calling you to pray. I think that you’ll find an answer to your problems and a much better sleep after praying.
Points to ponder: What concerns do I presently have? When and where can I quietly pray about them?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, when we have sleepless nights because of our current issues and prevailing worries, help us to turn to You quietly in prayer. Enable us to share deep concerns with You and sincerely to seek Your guidance and grace, strength and healing. In Your holy name, we quietly pray. Amen.
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Reprinted from the PresbyCan Daily Devotional with the author’s permission