Have you seen that TV commercial featuring a rooster crowing at the foot of an insomniac’s bed with the voiceover, “Are you tired of morning coming in the middle of the night?” It targets some of us who habitually wake up and can’t go back to sleep. Ah, a new sleeping pill is the solution we’re told. Another ad informs us that our hectic times leave us sleep deprived, that on the average most adults get six or less hours of sleep whether in “Motel 6” or on the home turf of our own bedrooms. The commercial assures us we’ll get “a better six” by sleeping on their brand of mattress.
I agree about the six or less sleep hours. In my teens, no problem—I often “slept the clock around” as my frustrated mother called my happy adolescent sleep pattern. I think it all started in child raising years. Sleeping through the night became a fantasy. At this latter season of my life, my sleep habit is weird. Here’s my pattern: No matter when I go to bed, I sleep soundly only for the first couple of hours (my vivid dream time). I seldom sleep beyond 3 a.m.–I’m typically wakeful after that—not necessarily stressed or anxious or worried about anything—just awake. This is not the sleep mode I would choose! But I usually accept the deviation from the norm and stay snuggled in bed in a sort of twilight zone.
Since my spirit is awake while my body is resting, kind of relaxed and only semi-conscious, I began to wonder whether my wakefulness may have something to do with what the Lord wants to do in or through me. I’m discovering that it can become a sweet, intimate time to worship and adore the Lord and draw closer to Him. Why should I waste those precious quiet hours that could belong uniquely to God? As a new Catholic Christian, I remind myself that the 3 o’clock hour in the afternoon and at night has sacred connotations as the time our Lord and Savior gave up His spirit to the Father on the cross.
Gradually I’m trying to use that wakeful time to be open to God’s voice. As Samuel in the Old Testament account was instructed to respond in the middle of the night when he heard God call him, I mentally pray, “Here I am, Lord. Speak, for Your servant is listening.” I’ve concluded that God may be nudging me awake or keeping me awake and subdued and docile so He can have my undivided attention. Daylight hours are too noisy with activity to hear Him clearly. He doesn’t “speak” audibly through my ears but by impressing my heart.
I’m learning to welcome the Holy Spirit to bring to my mind and my spirit whomever or whatever He wants me to pray for—even out of the blue. So I let my spirit gently float flutter about in what I call “butterfly praying.” Sometimes with words, often only with silence and peace. My spirit may pray in mental prayer. At other times I may mention a name, or recall a face, near or far, those in residence in heaven and those on earth. I don’t think it’s important for me to know exactly how to pray for someone. I do pray with knowledge for those who have shared their specific needs. I lift up to God those who have touched my life in some way, by some encounter during that day.
After I rise in the morning, I usually don't remember the details of my twilight zone praying. God already knows, and I commit my intimate intercession into His hands and trust Him to answer according to His perfect will and time and way. If I toss and turn restlessly trying to force myself to sleep, I end up feeling exhausted. If I’ve invested my wakeful night hours in this alternative way, I don’t feel sleep deprived. This all contributes to having “a better six”. I might even say that the rooster at the foot of my bed has become a friend!