Can’t sleep? The weight of your thoughts and worries keeping you up at night? Does your mind churn and churn with repeated images and doomsday scenarios?
I found a way to beat these midnight demons though I never believed that it would really work. Dallas Willard has said on multiple occasions that if you are down and having trouble sleeping to start reading the Psalms. He would make this suggestion and then say, “try it, you’ll see.”
This sounded like a nice thing to try but I have read the Psalms and they are inspiring, life-giving, wise, honest, and full of praise but could they really bring peace and needed sleep for the weary insomniacs? I was skeptical.
But then, I found myself in a situation where there was much on my mind and my penchant for pessimism had turned to depressive thoughts and barely controlled worry. I was stuck in a mind loop that I couldn’t get out of and it was keeping me up at night. So, I started to try Dr. Willard’s remedy. I just started reading the Psalms.
I didn’t have a plan, I just kept reading. I tried to let all of the promises, all of the cries for help, all of the moments of praise, all of the laments just wash over me. I didn’t try to interpret all of the meanings. If there was a section that didn’t apply to me, I didn’t sweat it because I knew that a few moments later there would be lines that were as if the Psalmist knew my inner thoughts and the fine details of my situation. As I read, and it didn’t take long, my anxiety, that included a disturbed stomach, began to dissipate and the heaviness of the moment turned to calm and a sense of relief. I found myself relaxing and dozing off.
J.R. Briggs, in his book Fail, tells of pastors who said that the Psalms felt like ointment rubbed on their wounds. That was what I was experiencing. I tried it the next night and it worked again. Why would I ever doubt the wise counsel of Willard? He obviously had spoken from experience. So, if you find yourself in a dark time and it is affecting your sleep, try opening the Psalms and just read. The words and the Holy Spirit should do the rest.