Day 7 -- Thirty Days of Prayer
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
1) It is the Lord who builds the house. Reminding ourselves of this enables us to cast our burdens on the Lord in prayer and to live and to sleep peacefully. We will work hard when it's time to work hard, rest and enjoy when it's time to rest and enjoy, and sleep when it's time to sleep -- all with a peaceful outlook.
2) Pray about the Lord's house -- His church. Make this a priority. Jesus died for the church, His bride, and He cares about it passionately. If we care about Jesus, we will care for His household, as well. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5;25-27 Study the letters of Paul and notice his prayers for the various churches. Follow the example of Epaphras ( Col. 4:12), who wrestled in prayer for churches.
3) Pray about your household's spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. Pray for wisdom to keep and manage your household. Pray for your husband to be a man of prayer (if you are married.) If you wish your husband to be a stronger spiritual leader in the home, the way to accomplish this is not to nag, but to set an example of a chaste and reverent life and to pray. (I Peter 3).
4) There are times when we will sacrifice sleep for a good cause. Paul speaks of sleepless nights spent in the service of the gospel. As keepers at home, we, too, may find ourselves sacrificing some sleep at times in the service of the gospel and in the service of our family. For example, we might get up to nurse a newborn, sit by the beside of the aged or dying, or spend extra time in prayer one night. Also, as we age, we may find it harder to sleep than when we were younger. It is one thing, however, to lose sleep for a good cause when appropriate and quite another to create sleepless nights for ourselves because we are involved in anxious toil or anxious watching. Some ideas for peaceful sleep are
a) Pray about your need for sleep. If you must miss sleep, pray also that the Lord will provide you strength for the next day and a time to recover you sleep needs later on.
b) Pray about the activities you take on. Are you truly doing the works the Lord has prepared for you in advance, or are you adding unnecessary business to your schedule that ends up making you fretful and restless? Are you working from grace or from human effort? Are you seeking to please the Lord and serve people, or are you looking too much to the approval of people for your security? (Ephesians 2:1-10) Pray, seek the advice of your husband (if you are married) and of godly women who can help you think through your schedule.
c) Allow yourself a short transition period (15 minutes) from the business of your day and evening to quietness. During this time do something soothing, such as pray, snuggle with hubby, drink a cup of milk, listen to soothing music, take a bubble bath, do some quiet activity, read, etc. This little quiet period calms the body down and readies it for sleep.
d) Keep a notebook by your bed. If you are about to fall asleep, and you think of a wonderful project that you just can't wait to get started on, you might find yourself returning to a physical state of readiness for activity. If that happens, try jotting your project ideas in a notebook, pray about it, and let it go for the time being. In this way, you will signal to yourself that you are not forgetting the project, but that you will tend to it at a more appropriate time. Likewise, if any worries come to you, pray about them, jot them down in your notebook and write that you have prayed about them, and let them go. Also, you might think of a task you didn't get to or think of before. That's ok. There is no need to stay up in anxious toil. Jot down the task in your notebook and attend to it when you can. The ultra perfectionists may have to prayerfully learn how to live with the fact that some things might not get done in a day or might not have turned out the way the perfectionist planned. Those of us who tend toward the oppostie side and don't put our whole heart into our work might find ourselves restless at night because we did not engage in enough wholesome, whole-hearted work during the day. In either case, pray about it, leave it to the Lord, get a good night's sleep, and get up to a brand new day.
e) Avoid news shows, news articles, blogs, etc., that focus on what is bad in the world, especially right before you go to bed. It's one thing to inform ourselves about what is going on in the world; it's another thing all together to let the media remind us of frightening or unhappy things over and over again. It is better to get our daily news in one short dose and, otherwise, to meditate more on God's providential care than about disasters and political happenings. Remember Psalm 37 reminds us not to fret because of what godless men and women might be planning or doing. Nothing man can think up can thwart God's purposes for your life, the lives of your family members, and the world.
f) Did you know that the TV and the computer emit a certain kind of light that can interfere with your brain's natural sleep patterns? If you are someone who does not easily fall asleep, you may find that it is best to avoid TV and the computer for at least thirty minutes before bedtime. Even if you are looking at something wholesome and restful, you might find that it bothers your body's rhythms. Taking a nightly break from these things might encourage more peaceful sleep.