How Our Family Prepares To Go To Sleep

When it comes to sleeping, the go-to verse in our house is Psalm 4:8.

Hands down. Wherever we are in the world, wherever we are sleeping, we cling to this verse.

Be it a new town, new hotel or new country, this verse helps us all sleep well.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8 has been a capstone in how we end our day as a family. A part of the prayers we pray at bedtime. A normal phrase to settle minds, calm fears and drift into peaceful sleep.

This verse alone is powerful. But when you include the entire chapter, you have something extremely powerful and greatly applicable to our lives.

Do you want to break it down with me? Grab your bible and a pen. We’re going to journey through verse by verse.

“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”

Verse 1 is me every night. A whole day’s worth of worries, fears, troubles and challenges have accumulated. I’m in my room, turning on the AC and carrying some serious distress. My mind is praying, “Hear my prayers, Jesus, because I’m worn out and tired from a long, dusty, hot, stressful day!” A day of being misunderstood by a teammate or worried about the water not coming on or unsure if the ATM will have local currency for me tomorrow. In total frustration, I can cry, “Have mercy on me and all of these crazy situations I’m stuck in!”

“How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?”

Verse 2 is trickier. This is when I start to turn from all the external things that wearied me through the day to taking an internal look at my heart. This is where I realize that I might not be handling everything as I should be or could be. As I wash my face and brush my teeth, questions come… Have I turned things that could bring glory to God into something else? Have I decided to stay stuck in some crazy situation, loving the delusion of the external things around me rather than dealing with the heart conditions that God is trying to show me? Am I worshipping, however unknowingly, things that are not of God? Am I placing things, feelings, hurts, or worries above God?

“Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.”

Verse 3 is a sweet reminder from my loving Father in heaven. He says, “You are my faithful servant and you have been set apart for me. I hear you every time you call out to me.” I need this reminder as I endeavor to examine the inner workings of my day. I’ve put my pajamas on and bed is calling my name.

“Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”

Verse 4 is after the AC has cooled my room down, I’m slipping into the sheets and finally able to breathe. I have a chance to close my eyes and think back over my day. This is the time to be still. A time for communing with my heart, searching and reviewing my inner feelings, motives, actions and thoughts.

“Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord.”

Verse 5 takes things deeper into my heart and brings my soul to repentance and truth. If I truly followed verse 4 to search my heart, then I know I’ve made mistakes throughout the day that need to be dealt with. Words, actions, thoughts or moments that weren’t pleasing to Him. Hurts or struggles that I took on as my own. In the Old Testament, that meant I would’ve needed to offer a sacrifice. For me, right now, that means resting on what Jesus did for me on Calvary and trusting His promises of forgiveness, righteousness and love.

“Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us.”

Verse 6 ventures further through the process. It reminds me that no matter what, no matter what I face, no matter what it seems like others have or want or do, it is the light of Jesus that is necessary. I need the light of Jesus shining in, around, through, above, before, and behind my life. Every day.

“Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound.”

Verse 7 is the daily request for godly, heavenly, real joy. This is where I pray for His Spirit to fill me with the fullness of joy regardless of what the day was like or the next day might bring my way. I can live with this joy when I have nothing or when I have everything. This joy is real and lasting and true.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Verse 8 brings me full circle from the distress and delusions of verses 1 and 2, through the declaration that God hears me of verse 3, into the searching and repentance of verses 4 and 5 to the gift of his joy of verses 6 and 7… full circle to verse 8. Peace when I sleep. Safety for my tomorrow.

Our Lord alone can bring us to a quiet, restful, peaceful place. He alone can put to rest the struggles and trials and sins and worries. He alone.

You see, if we remain stuck in the distress and delusions of verse 1 and 2, we will not sleep in peace.

If we fail to go through the searching and repentance of verses 4 and 5, we will not sleep in peace.

There is something rhythmic and healing about walking through the entire process, verse by sweet verse, in Psalm 4 that makes the journey to sleeping in peace so remarkable.

A daily, nightly beautiful journey with Jesus through a process from distress to peace.

I want to leave you with a few quotes I found in my study of Psalm 4.

O that we could trust God more and more with personal things! O that he were the God of our chamber, as well as of our temples and houses! O that we could bring him more and more into the minutiae of daily life! If we did thus, we should experience a measure of rest to which we are, perhaps, strangers now… we should have that unharassed mind which conduces most to repose, in body and soul; we should be able to say, “I will lie down and sleep, and leave tomorrow with God!” – Philip Bennett Power

A quiet conscience is a good bedfellow. How many of our sleepless hours might be traced to our untrusting and disordered minds. They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a promise; no coverlet so warm as an assured interest in Christ. – Dr Walker

A few other peaceful sleep resources:

Tips to Sleep in Peace

Think on These Things

He Establishes Peace For Us 

What about this walk through Psalm 4 surprised you? What is something you can apply tonight as you ready for bed? What is something that helps you in this process of sleeping in peace?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

4 Comments

  1. Grace L November 28, 2018

    Thank you, Jenilee, for unpacking Psalm 4 like you did. For years I have quoted Psalm 4:8 as I went to sleep or as I prayed for others to sleep. But I love how you bring the whole Psalm into a devotional for the day and the evening. I want to spend more time going through this.

    1. Jenilee Goodwin December 2, 2018

      I agree! I’ve used the one verse for a long time but I love how God wove the whole chapter together for us.

  2. Kathryn December 2, 2018

    Sleep has been a battle for me throughout my life. I remember feeling such a sense of peace the first time I read Psalm 4.Thanks for sharing.

    Abide has been really helpful for me in dealing with my sleep issues. It’s a Christian meditation app. A subscription is around $30 a year, but you can also listen to the meditations on youtube. My favorite one is Psalm 23: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH87n55z-lc&t=12s They also have one on Psalm 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJJuFjHIaQM

    1. Jenilee Goodwin December 2, 2018

      That’s wonderful Kathryn! Thank you for taking the time to share extra resources with Velvet Ashes. It’s always a blessing for anyone reading this post!

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