Insomnia prayer

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It happens more often than I would like. The red-rimmed numbers on the clock tell a tale of the terrible twos: it is so early in the morning that it is still last night, but sleep has already left my bed.

I am not like Samuel, called to attention out of my dreams. I am not like the psalmist, tossing and turning and soaking my pillow with tears. I do sometimes find myself overwhelmed with worry. “Let the worries of today be enough,” says the gospel, “for tomorrow will have worries of its own;” but when today and tomorrow meet in the middle of the night, so do their respective tormenting concerns.

For the most part, I find myself simply awake and alert, waiting for who knows whom.

I have taken to asking God, how would you like me to use this time? After all, there is little to distract me from you for now. God has yet to answer me clearly, but the pursuit of her voice is more calming and more fun than the pursuit of sleep.

When my children were young, none of them slept. There were so many moments of the night when I would hold them, watching and waiting for nothing much, only lying in love.

Certainly, I covet sleep. But I am beginning to find that I cannot begrudge these stolen moments of silent prayer, just Jesus and me, in the desert of the night.

I am coming to peace with my hours of insomnia, resting with the God of my restless heart.


The Revd Rosalind C Hughes is the Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Euclid, Ohio. She blogs at over the water. Her first book, A Family Like Mine: Biblical stories of love, loss, and longing, is due out from Upper Room Books in Spring 2020.

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