Your sleep will be sweet

My son, preserve sound judgment and

  do not let them out of your sight;

  they will be life for you,

ornament to grace your neck.

Then you will go on your way in safety,

and your foot will not stumble;

you lie down, you will not be afraid;

you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:21-24


Let’s review  this prayer for going to sleep.


O Lord God, who has given man the
night for rest, as you have created a day in which he may employ himself in
labor, grant, I pray, that my body may so rest during this night that my mind
cease not to be awake to you, nor my heart faint or be overcome with apathy,
preventing it from adhering steadfastly to the love of you. While laying aside
my cares to relax and relieve my mind, may I not, in the meanwhile, forget you,
nor may the remembrance of your goodness and grace, which ought always to be
deeply engraved on my mind, escape my memory. In like manner, also, as the body
rests may my conscience enjoy rest. Grant, moreover, that in taking sleep I may
not give indulgence to the flesh, but only allow myself as much as the weakness
of this natural state requires, to my being able thereafter to be more alert in
your service. Be pleased to keep me so chaste and unpolluted, not less in mind
that in body, and safe from all dangers, that my sleep itself may turn to the
glory of your name. But since this day has not passed away without my having in
many ways offended you or my proneness to evil, in like manner as all things
are now covered by the darkness of the night, so let everything that is sinful
in me lie buried in your mercy. Hear me, O God, Father and Preserver, through
Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

This prayer of John Calvin’s addresses a vital part of life of
which we tend to think little about – sleep. Yet going to sleep can be a
difficult time. Children can be tormented by troubling dreams. Teenagers can be
dominated with lust in their dreams. Sometimes dreams provide a fantasy life
that appears better than reality. Often, the images from dreams are fleeting
and difficult to remember. In this prayer, Calvin alludes to these difficulties
when he asks that he bring honor to God while he sleeps. One of the benefits of
delighting in God is sweet sleep. Proverbs 3 indicates that pursuit of sound
judgment brings this protection. The same theme is stated in Proverbs 6:22.

For children who struggle with fears while sleeping, these
passages bring hope. No, this is not like a magic session where you say a verse
and protection automatically comes. This is a process of seeking the wisdom of
God and loving his ways day in and day out. Do you need to help a child with
night fears? Talk regularly about the power of God with children who are
terrified or saddened by dreams. Combat this problem by praying regularly and
specifically with and for your children about the troubling dreams and thoughts
they have.  To be effective, your prayers
and concerns must be done consistently and with a strong trust that God will
help you and your children.   

The Bible promises that sweet and protected sleep is
possible. God never sleeps, so he can help his creatures that do sleep. So God can
hear and answer your prayers when you are sleeping, because he is always awake,
always able to help. This contrast between creature and Creator is a very
practical, comforting fact for a child to remember.

This is where to start. In the next post we will see how
these passages apply to attacking sins in our sleep.  As always, your comments and thoughts are


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