When is Prayer More Important than Sleep?

You are probably like me and have heard many stories from people who have been awakened in the middle of the night because God wanted to talk with them.

It may be that our lives are so crowded with distractions that the middle of the night is the only time when we are receptive to his voice.

The other night I was awakened several hours before I wanted to stop sleeping. I wasn’t too happy about it and tried several ways to go back to sleep.

I finally turned on the lights, got out my Bible, and visited with God. Like many times in the past, this was an important meeting.

No doubt, the time in prayer was much more important than a few hours of lost sleep.

Jesus Didn’t Have to be Awakened

The Father didn’t have to interrupt Jesus’ sleep. Jesus desired communion with the Father and often prayed rather than slept. When he chose his close followers, he spent the entire night in prayer.

Luke 6.12-13Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God.

And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles.

Wouldn’t you like to have been a “fly on the wall” and listened in on the conversation between the Father and Son. I wonder what they talked about throughout the night?

Clearly, major decisions were being made, because Jesus was determining who to call to be his closest followers and to carry on his mission.

Even though we are not able to answer questions about that night of prayer, we are able to gather some thoughts about times when it is more important to pray than to sleep.

(1) Be Open and Attentive – If God cares enough about what is going on in our lives to wake us up in the middle of the night, we should be open and attentive to an encounter with him.

One of my friends was awakened night-after-night by the blaring of a train’s horn, even though train tracks were miles from his home. The encounters he had with God ultimately led him to enter the ministry.

Apparently, my friend was so distracted with work that the only way God could get his attention was to invade his sleep like this.

When the prophet Samuel was a young boy, God woke him up three times. The old prophet Eli told him to say to God, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (see 1 Samuel 3.1-10).

When we awaken and can’t go back to sleep, we may follow Samuel’s example and ask God what he wants from us.

(2) Have a Plan – When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep for 30 minutes, I get my Bible and begin reading and praying.

I usually use the Psalms and the Gospels in prayer. I remember one night of prayer when I prayed through several Psalms. At one point, God was able to speak to me through the Psalm.

He gave me insights that I was able to apply to a problem that were far better than any idea I would have come up with.

If you will ask for the leadership of the Holy Spirit, he will show you how to make the best use of your time when you can’t sleep.


The next verses form a transition to a new section where Jesus instructs the people who are following him. The passage seems like a repetition of the good news story of Jesus’ impact on the lives of people.

When we read the Bible like a novel, we may miss some of the finer points of the message. If we read carefully we will find two points worth noting in the next verses.

Luke 6.17-19He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.

They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.

And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

(1) People came from predominantly Jewish areas of Judea and Jerusalem, but also from locations of mixed Jewish and Gentile heritage, Tyre and Sidon.

This is another signal that the good news of God’s love is for all people.

There is no place on earth where God’s love is not available. There is no people group that God will refuse his love and grace.

The only issue is whether the distant societies of earth will have someone live out the gospel in such a compelling way that they will be attracted to the Savior.

One of my friends was a missionary in a very remote part of an African nation. What was interesting was that Coca‑Cola was already in that location.

A carbonated soft drink may be refreshing, but Jesus is the Savior.

We may not be able to go to foreign lands to represent Jesus, but we can pray for those who are there to be effective.

(2) The preaching, healing, and deliverance ministry of Jesus was the foundation of his work among people.

I still remember a key point from the first sermon I heard when I was in school in New Orleans. The speaker said, “Everyone needs a home for the soul.”

The loving, accepting, and grace-giving community of believers can be a home for the soul and provide an environment where people are healed and set free from all manner of unclean spirits.

When people find a home for their soul, the preaching of the gospel is received as the good news it is intended to be.

A Jesus-Kind-Of-Life

The people wanted to touch Jesus, because they sensed the power of the Spirit coming through him.

The same Holy Spirit is available to us and will work through us for the good of our family, friends, and co-workers.

What Jesus said to his followers is true for us today.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8).

Let’s determine to live like Jesus and testify to his love, deliverance and healing power in the power of the Spirit.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy adds dimensions to this passage that are very insightful.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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