There is one thing I have excelled at all my life: sleeping.
But as much as I love to sleep, I have always loved to stay up late even more. When I was little I’d stay up so I could watch Perry Mason with my dad. Now that I’m older I find myself doing it to read my favorite online magazine or text my boyfriend. I hate the thought of missing out on something fun.
Most of the time when the lamp goes off, I remember to thank God for the day and ask Him to watch over me as I sleep, but sleep comes quickly when I pray into my pillow. When my alarm rings the next morning I usually regret staying up. In the moment though, nothing seems more important to me than a text or a great top ten list.
Sacrificial prayer shows that we value our relationship with God over our own comfort.
I am much more apt to skip sleep for entertainment, attention, or obligations like studying. None of those things are bad, but when I think about it, I rarely make the same sacrifice for God.
When I read the story of Jesus’ agony in the garden (Mt. 26:36-46) the night before He was put to death, I often find myself judging his closest friends: “What the heck?! None of these guys would stay awake to pray with JESUS?!” Then I am promptly humbled by the little voice inside my head that says: “Well, you stay up to read comics! When was the last time YOU stayed awake to pray with Jesus?!”
This idea of “vigil” or watchful, middle-of-the-night prayer is an ancient Christian tradition that makes a bold statement. It is a sacrifice that says: “God, You are more important even than my rest,” and it is a prayer of trust: “God, I know You will be my strength.”
When we sacrifice things we love to make time for God, He notices. In fact, my experience has been that when I give something to God, I notice His blessings even more. When I do stay up an hour later to have some quiet time with the Lord, I often feel even more rested – spiritually and physically – when morning comes.
Could there be room for this practice in your life?