“Taking a nap may be the most spiritual thing you do.”
When I first heard this quote, it made me think.
John Ortberg writes in The Life You’ve Always Wanted…
I was surprised to find that the Bible has much to say about what John Ballie called the theology of sleep. Sleep is a gift from God:
It is an act of trust; I am reminded when I go to sleep that the world is in God’s hands, not mine. The world will get along very well even though I am not awake to try to control things. At the appropriate time, my eyes will open and I will receive the gift of wakefulness once again.
Have you ever tried to pray when you are lacking sleep? Before Elijah was to spend a prolonged time in solitude and prayer at Mount Horeb, the angel of the Lord had him take not one, but two long naps. Contrast this with the disciples at Gethsemane, who could not pray because they kept falling asleep. Sleep is a gift from God.
For some of you reading this book, perhaps the single most spiritual thing you could do right now is to put it down and take a nap.
I normally do not sleep that much. I usually stay up pretty late and I usually wake up fairly early. I seem to function really well despite my lack of sleep. I normally think that is another reason why I am doing exactly what God wired me to do (ministry). However, I understand that my sleeping patterns are normally not the most healthy of habits. I wish I was more self-disciplined when it comes to sleep.
The past few weeks in particular have been rough – sleep wise. Lots of nights staying up way too late (even for me), while still getting up early.
Because of my current lack of sleep situation, I began to ponder, “Is sleep spiritual?” Why did God create us with the natural need for eight hours of down-time each day? God put us down here for a limited number of years; and approximately one-third of that valuable time is spent dreaming rather than producing.
If sleeping is spiritual, we are not very good at it. According to the National Sleep Foundation (by the way, very interesting website), the average adult sleeps 6 hours and 58 minutes per night during a normal work week. Compare this to 100 years ago – before Thomas Edison’s marvelous invention – when the average adult slept about nine hours a night. Indeed, we are a nation of people who are chronically sleep deprived. Sleep specialists recommend that we need eight to ten hours of sleep nightly. I do not do well with that recommendation. Do you?
More importantly than the physical effects of sleep, what about the spiritual effects of sleep? The person who made the sleep being spiritual quote explained that when we go to sleep, we complete surrender all control and place our unfiltered trust in God’s hands. The idea is that God will take care of you and the world while you sleep and that you trust that he will wake you up. This makes sleep spiritual.
Lauren Winner, a writer for Catalyst, explains that “to sleep, long and soundly, is to place our trust in Him without whom we labor in vain.”
So what do you think? Is sleep spiritual?