“In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.”Psalm 4:8
Sometimes, I hate going to sleep. With the threat that my seven month old could wake at any moment, the pressure is on to go to sleep as fast as possible.
But often, no matter how tired I am, the moment my head hits the pillow, my mind starts buzzing: to-do lists for work, re-living moments from the day, nonsensically thinking of Christmas presents months in advance.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle. In fact, the team at Hallow all shared how difficult it is for all of us to find peace at night. So we decided to create a Sleep Praylist – a series of prayers that quiet our hearts and minds as we fall asleep.
Here are a few ways to pray that help me fall asleep:
1. A night time Examen: As I mentioned above, a struggle of mine is re-living the day in a way that is not productive. I find myself remembering times when I wasn’t at my best or should have done something differently. But through the Examen, I can re-live my day and see it through God’s eyes. I can give thanks and ask forgiveness. I can let go of anything I’m holding onto and leave the day in God’s hands. And I can look forward to the next day with newfound hope and peace, because through prayer, I am reminded that God is always with me.
2. Meditating on a short prayer: I find it helpful to pray the Rosary as I’m falling asleep, or to simply repeat a short prayer like “Come, Holy Spirit.” The repetition is easy for my tired brain to remember, and by filling my mind with prayer, I can re-focus away from shut out negative or busy thoughts that tend to keep me awake.
3. Imaginative prayer: I’ve been afraid of the dark my entire life, so when I lived alone after college, I used to dread nighttime. But I found a way of prayer that helped me feel safe. You know that scene from the last Harry Potter movie, where all the good guys make a type of magical force field around Hogwarts? As I lay in bed, I would imagine a “force field” of angels and saints, protecting me. Maybe a little cheesy, but it’s always helped whenever I’ve been afraid or stressed. You can try this same thing with passages from scripture. One of my favorites is Psalm 23: imagining God leading me beside still waters.
In the next few weeks, Hallow will be releasing more sleep prayers, including Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. But to begin, we have a few meditations, Examens, and Lectio Divinals to get you started. Try it out and let us know what you think.