One of my favorite scenes in the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy is when Sam-wise explains the eating habits of hobbits. Not only do they eat their three square meals, but there are the in-between meals as well, like “second breakfast” and “elevensies.” Hobbits take their meals very seriously; it gives them the nutrition they need for their long journeys away from the Shire.
In the same way, I’ve always believed that a Christ-follower needs more than a single time with Jesus each day. Part of Whole Life Worship is what I call “Personal Worship Time.” Others call it “quiet time” or daily devotionals (my church calls it “chair time”). Whatever you call it, it is one-on-one time with Jesus spent in prayer, worship, Scripture reflection, silence, journaling and intimacy. (To read my blog on “Personal Worship Time” click here). And I find that while once a day is a bare-minimum requirement, having only one personal worship time each day leaves me wanting more.
But to be honest with you, that’s easier said than done. I’ve only had minimal success in carving out a second time during my day to spend with Jesus. It seems that no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get into a rhythm of having that “second quiet time” into my day. I’ve tried lunch time prayer. I’ve tried evening prayer. It just doesn’t seem to work for me over the long term.
I am in a unique season. My kidneys have failed and I require nine hours of dialysis each night. One of the draw-backs I’m experiencing with dialysis is that I get awakened every night around 3am. My dialysis goes through a new cycle of filling my peritoneal cavity with fluid around that time and it seems to always wake me up. And I can’t get back to sleep! As a result, it’s disrupted my normal sleep patterns. So basically, I’m up from 3-4:30am every night.
For the first few weeks, I saw this as a “cross” I needed to bear. I saw it as part of my “suffering” (add it to the nausea, feeling weak, fighting discouragement). And I spent those wee hours playing countless games of solitaire or reading the news. Mostly, I just would complain and feel sorry for myself. Then the Lord gave me a new way to look at this: a second quiet time!
So now when I get awakened at 3am, I get up and have some personal worship time with Jesus. I read through some prayers from the Psalms designed for the late night (called “the Compline” in Fixed Hour Prayer) and then I pray slowly – section by section – through the Lord’s Prayer. That often leads me into a time of intercession for those I know who are in need. Eventually, I’ll fall back asleep; usually a deep sleep until my dialysis is completed at 6am.
It’s not how I planned it to be. I would have preferred having a “second quiet time” during the waking hours of the day rather than during the fourth watch of the night. But, for right now, it works. Instead of squirming, tossing and turning, whining and complaining, and resigning myself to numbing my mind with video games, I’m entering into communion with my Jesus and I’m interceding for others. I’m meditating on Scripture and reflecting on the way Christ calls me to live. I’m pouring out my heart to the Lord and offering my body up to him. If I can’t sleep at 3am, the best thing I can do is be with Jesus.
How about you? When you can’t sleep in the wee hours, how about a second quiet time? Keep your Bible on your nightstand. Have a Book of prayer by your pillow. Turn to Jesus in the thick of the night and be a “night-watchman” for others in the Body of Christ.
It’s better than counting sheep.