I am frazzled. Since September 1, 2013, I have woken at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. most mornings and struggled with making it through each day on 6 hours or less of sleep. I know why it is happening—I am called to be an intercessor and night watchman—but honestly, I just want to sleep. I have asked everyone I know to pray that I would start sleeping through the night. I began taking Benadryl to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. In my mind, I was the victim of a sick, horrible joke because those who know me know that sleep is one of the most important things to me. (I usually average 8-9 hours a night.) I’m not just frazzled; I’m frustrated.
image courtesy of stuart miles / freedigitalphotos.net
There I am, caught in a mind trap. Satan has snuck into my head and told me one small little lie: that I need sleep more than I need to obey the Lord. You may not think wanting more sleep is a mind trap or a lie, but there it is, plain as day: disobedience disguised as a need. God had asked me to do some important work, and I was incensed, believing that I would be of better use to him if I had eight to nine hours of sleep instead of if I simply obeyed Him. Because of this, I launched into action against the very thing that God was asking of me.
In living this out over the last few weeks, I have realized that there two important factors to remember about what Joyce Meyer calls the battlefield of the mind:
- It’s not just what you think, it’s how you think. Sometimes we believe that as long as we aren’t thinking BAD things, it’s okay. As long as I am not thinking about cheating on my spouse, it’s okay. As long as I am not thinking angry thoughts about my boss, it’s okay. But therein is the lie. We must replace those bad thoughts with positive thoughts. The Bible instructs us to think about things that are true, noble, honorable, just, pure, commendable, and excellent (Philippians 4:8), and we must be proactive in thinking these kind of thoughts. For me, this means replacing my frustration with God (and my assignment!) with humility. It means viewing my assignment as an honor, not a bother. It also means accepting that God will keep me in perfect peace as long as my mind stays on Him (Isaiah 26:3)—and I obey Him.
- Sometimes, you need a change in perspective. The Bible says that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). To be renewed, we cannot think about things in the same old ways. I had asked my friends and family to pray that I would get a full night’s sleep and that I would stop waking up so early in the mornings. This past Monday, I shifted my perspective: instead of asking for prayer that I would sleep the whole night through, I asked for prayer that I would be energized and refreshed from the sleep I did receive. Now THAT is a prayer that God was willing to—and DID—answer.
I do not always win these battles for my mind, but I am a work in progress, and God is renewing my mind daily. The most important thing to remember is to saturate your mind with His Word, and you will begin to see your thought patterns change for the better.
What strategies do you have for dealing with the battle for your mind?
I had such an incredible experience fasting that I want to provide some resources for anyone who is even remotely considering a fast. After the amazing intimacy I experienced with God during this fast, I plan to fast at least three times per year to bring my heart in line with God and to hear clearly from Him. I cannot stress to you how much God will bless you for surrendering to Him (instead of King Stomach!).
- The Ultimate Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola. In August when I was praying about starting my business, this book popped up in my Kindle feed and I purchased it on a God-nudge. It is probably the best resource I can recommend to anyone wanting to fast, especially those who are trying to fast for the first time (as I was). Kristen’s story behind writing this book is a great example of how God can change your life through fasting! This book is not only an excellent resource about the Biblical basis behind fasting, it provides you with devotions during your 21-day Daniel Fast and incredible recipes and food plans for your fast. Honestly, I am still making some of Kristen’s recipes because they really are that good—in fact, people have requested that I make date honey so much, I’m thinking about starting it as a side business! 🙂 Kristen also has a website with tons of great information—including a blog, recipes, and videos all about the Daniel Fast. So if you are thinking of trying a fast, I recommend you pick up this book and visit her website.
- Fasting by Jentezen Franklin. This book is about unlocking the power of Biblical fasting and how it can transform your life. My mom started reading this book as we were on our Daniel Fast, and I borrowed it from her last weekend because she had raved so much about it. It is an easy read and a fabulous book for anyone who has not yet decided to fast. It will give you good insight about the Biblical foundations for fasting as well as what to expect physically, mentally, and spiritually. Jentezen’s church in Georgia participates in a 21-day fast each year, so his website has a section specifically dedicated to fasting. You can check it out (and download a free magazine specifically about fasting) here.
- The Bible. Saving the best for last! The Bible is always going to be your go-to source for information about fasting. There are several passages about fasting in the Bible, the most often quoted being Isaiah 58, which talks about the heart behind fasting and what the Lord requires of us. Some other notable Biblical texts about fasting: 2 Chronicles 20:3—Jehoshaphat proclaims a fast throughout Judah to seek God for fear of the armies of Ammon and Moab; Ezra 8:21-23—Ezra calls a fast to seek God’s protection for those leaving Babylon for Israel; and Acts 14:23—Paul and Barnabas appoint elders in the churches, having prayed with fasting. There are many, many more, including Jesus’ own fasting experience recorded in two of the gospels. Read these and others in several translations and allow God to speak directly to you. You also can search the Internet for information about fasting in the Bible; lots of people have given helpful information about the spiritual and physical benefits of fasting.
I hope these resources help you as you are praying about when (not if) you fast!