7 Ways to Sleep Soundly each Night

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Years ago when we were in business, Cheryl and I went through a difficult period in life. Dealing with employees, cash flow, banks and trying to increase sales made for many sleepless nights. It was distressing. I believe, unless there are health reasons why you cannot, that we should be able to rest at night. Over the years, I have learned a few secrets of sleeping better each night.

Here are 7 ways to sleep soundly each night:

Exercise during the day – Sometime during the day, make yourself physically tired. Exercise not only works the body, it frees the mind. It helps you prepare to relax. There’s a power in physical activity which cannot be ignored. I try to exercise at least 5 days per week.

Eat healthy foods in adequate quantities – I’ve learned that greasy foods don’t set as well on my stomach. You’ll have your own foods that don’t make you feel as well as you could. Also, if you eat too little you’ll wake up hungry. If you eat too much you won’t settle peacefully. Find the right quantity of food and discipline yourself to eat the right amount. That usually means eating until you are satisfied, but not stuffing your stomach.

Put your day to bed – For me, that means reviewing my day and preparing for tomorrow. I spend a few minutes reflecting on what took place, what I can change and what I can’t, and then looking over my calendar for the next day. It mentally says “This day is over. A new day is coming.”

Be consistent – Even on weekends or when I’m out of town I keep pretty much the same schedule. Occasionally I’ll need to “catch up” on some sleep, but most of the time I’m in bed and out of bed  (without ever using an alarm) at the same time each day. Once it becomes a habit it’s not that bad…even getting up early. Seriously.

Invest in good bedding – Don’t be cheap when it comes to your mattress or bedding. I’ve learned that you get what you pay for with this expense. Shop for quality, as well as price.

Write it down – Journaling can be a release from the day. Share your thoughts, concerns, fears and dreams. Get them off your chest then lay them to rest. (No rhyme intended.)

Pray – End with a release to God. Not trying to be cruel, but if worry is keeping you awake at night, you have a faith issue bigger than a sleep issue. Remember, He’s on His throne…even as you sleep. (If you fall asleep while praying…God won’t mind. Didn’t you enjoy watching your children fall asleep?)

Try some of these and let me know how they work for you. I’m praying you learn some secrets for better sleeping.

Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What tips do you have?

A Lesson from Hezekiah: 7 Steps to More Effective Prayers

Hezekiah ruled over Judah and was a good and faithful king.

Hezekiah often became the target of warring nations. The king of Assyria, which was a much more powerful nation, decided to attempt a take over of Hezekiah’s kingdom. Throughout the stressful time in leadership, Hezekiah consistently used the same battle plan. He went before the Lord in prayer and followed the Lord’s commands. Hezekiah relied on prayer to rule his life. This king knew how to pray and he prayed in a way that got results.

At one point, the Assyrian king launched a huge smear campaign against Hezekiah with his own people. It scared all Hezekiah’s people to death.

Hezekiah heard about it and went before the Lord. God assured Hezekiah everything would be ok, but the Assyrians wouldn’t let up. They kept taunting and taunting, throwing threats towards Hezekiah. They sent a letter by messenger to Hezekiah, basically which, said, “The Assyrians are tough and they are coming for you next.”

What do you do when you are backed into a corner about to face something bigger than your ability to handle? Well, Hezekiah received the letter with all the threats and began to pray.

We find this account in  2 Kings 19:14-19

What can we learn from listening in as Hezekiah prayed?

Hezekiah got alone with God. There is corporate prayer like we do at church, and there is prayer where a few are gathered, but probably some of the most effective prayer time of your life will be the time you invest alone with God.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Immediate. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was prior to making his plans. We are so geared to react that it’s hard for us to go first to God. He may be second or third or when we are backed into a corner and have no choice, but as a habit we need to make God the first place we turn in our lives.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Open and honest. Hezekiah was transparent before the Lord.  I love the imagery here in this prayer story of Hezekiah. He took the letter, went to the house of the Lord, and spread it out before Him. I get this visual image of Hezekiah, and this letter…laying it there on the table, and saying, “Okay, God, what now? What do I do next?”

Are you in a tough spot right now? You may just need to get you some note cards right down all the things you are struggling with….lay them out on a table…then say, “Okay God, here are my struggles…I can’t do anything about them. What now?”

Writing your prayer requests before God is a great idea for 2 reasons.

a. It helps you remember to pray for them.

b. It helps you to watch as God answers. We get more answers than we realize if we only ask.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Honoring, humble and respectful of who God is.  Hezekiah knew his place as king…and he knew God’s place in the Kingdom. Hezekiah was king of a nation and that is an important job, yet Hezekiah willingly humbled himself in prayer, because he knew his place before the King of kings.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Bold. He said, “Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD…” Hezekiah had the kind of relationship with God where it wasn’t a surprise when Hezekiah showed up to pray. They talked frequently; probably throughout the day. Because of that relationship, Hezekiah didn’t wonder if God would be there when he came before Him. He knew he could ask God to act on his behalf.

The more you grow in your relationship with God, the bolder your prayers can become, because the more your heart will begin to line up with God’s heart.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Dependent. In verses 17-18 he prays, “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands.” Hezekiah knew he was out of his league facing the Assyrians. From the way I see that Hezekiah responded to life, however, I don’t think it mattered the size of the battle Hezekiah was going to depend on God.

Hezekiah’s prayer was certain…Because it was based on his personal faith and trust in God.  In verse 19, Hezekiah prayed, “Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

Hezekiah had a faith in God that allowed him to pray with confidence. You need to understand that faith is always based on the promises of God. Some things God has promised to do…some He hasn’t. God has promised to always get glory for Himself and always work things for an ultimate good. He hasn’t promised to rid everyone of cancer or to heal every bad relationship.

(That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for everything. We don’t know His will, but we can’t guarantee God to do that which He hasn’t promised to do.) Sometimes we get upset because God doesn’t do something we asked or wanted Him to do but the fact is He had never promised to do it.

Hezekiah knew God had promised to save His people. He knew God had placed him in the position of authority over them. He had confidence that God would do what He had promised to do. Hezekiah trusted God to be faithful to His word so he was willing to act in faith.

What situations are you dealing with today that you know you are helpless to do on your own and you desperately desire God’s answer?

Get alone with God, spread your problems out before Him honestly, humbly, and boldly; then, allow His will to be done, as you wait for His response.

Saturday Night Prayer Chain 2, Let’s Pray for One Another

It’s been a couple months since we did a Saturday night prayer chain. Is your life still in need of prayer?

How can we pray for you?

This is simple. You leave a comment on this post, my faithful prayer warrior readers read it, and we pray. You can join the praying as well as the listing of requests too. Let’s pray for one another.

This time I’m praying:

  • For God to reveal Himself to people tonight…and tomorrow.
  • For our churches to be packed this weekend.
  • For a man to come to his senses and return to his family.
  • For a teenage girl who needs to make the right choices going forward.
  • For a couple people I know looking for work.
  • For several people battling cancer.
  • For a single parent who is lonely.
  • For a church that’s launching tomorrow.

What are you praying for?

How can we pray for you?

Go!

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

7 Personal Disciplines: A 90 Day Challenge

I’ve always been considered a fairly disciplined person. There are certain disciplines that have made me who I am today. Lately, however, I’ve not felt as disciplined in each area of my life. I would excel in one area, but not in another. I’ve shared some of this here previously, but I went through a couple stressful years. That, coupled with an extremely busy period, distracted me from some of the disciplines I had done for so many years.

The only solution I know to remedy a lack of discipline is to add discipline. I also know that if I repeat a discipline long enough, it becomes a habit…part of the DNA of my daily life. With that in mind, I’m adding some discipline to my life. For the next 90 days, I’m attempting to improve in seven areas of discipline.

For the next 90 days, I plan to add these 7 personal disciplines:

Eat – I am what I eat many times. When I over-eat or eat the wrong foods I gain unnecessary weight and don’t feel as well as I should. My goal here is to average eating between 2,000 and 2,200 calories per day and to monitor the type foods I eat. (The LoseIt app helps with that. Read about it HERE.)

Pray – I know prayer is a life source. I’ve seen the results of prayer. Prayer doesn’t always change things the way I’d want them to bs, but prayer always changes me. It gives me strength, comfort and confidence. Why don’t I pray more? My goal is to pray throughout my day, recognizing God is with me always.

Read – I need to be regularly reading my Bible and supplementing it with Christian and leadership books. I can be legalistic about Bible reading, but the discipline I need is to read it for relationship (with God), not just for education. Part of being discipled by others happens as I read other work. My goal here is to always be reading through a Bible book I’m not preaching about, journal about my Bible reading and to read at least one chapter of another book every day.

Write – I’m introverted, so I process information many times by writing. I’m fairly disciplined with my blog, but I have some larger projects I should be working on. My goal here is to average one hour extra writing time per weekday. I may do that in a couple days per week, but want to maintain that as a total hours each week to write.

Exercise – I’ve written about this before HERE. I know well this is a secret to my productivity. My goal here is to run 4 days per week minimum and exercise with weights 2 or 3 days per week.

Sleep – I don’t need much sleep. If I’m not careful I’ll stay up too late at night working on projects. I never sleep late, so I end up getting too little sleep. My goal here is lights out by 10:30 and to take short power naps as needed…and not feel guilty about them.

Pause – Anyone who knows me well knows I have a hard time staying still long. I do take a “Sabbath” and believe everyone “rests” in their own way, but this is a discipline to have some time during the week where I do absolutely nothing. My goal here is to have a 2 to 3 hour time each week when I pause from all activities. (I can assure you this will be the hardest discipline to complete.)

I’m excited about living a more disciplined life.

Do you want to join me? Would you commit to disciplining yourself in each of these areas over the next 90 days? (You’ll be finished before Christmas.) You can change the details of each discipline…you may need more calories or less…you may choose a different exercise…etc… The key is to be disciplined in 7 critical areas of your life.

Who is with me?

Which of this will be hardest for you to do?

Nascar Prayer…Boogity Boogity Boogity

Chances are good by now you’ve seen this. It happened down the road from me. I don’t know this pastor, but I may need to invite him to lunch sometime.

Just so you know, this is not a typical Tennessee prayer. It certainly brings attention to the fact that we do pray! :)

What thoughts come to your mind with this prayer?

Scripture Memorization, Week 20

Jehoshaphat was a great king, because he followed the ways of God. In an incredible example of humility, Jehoshaphat was willing to admit, in front of the people he was leading, that he didn’t have all the answers.

When facing a powerful rival nation, Jehoshaphat prayed a prayer. This week’s memory verse comes from that prayer.

Here is this week’s memory verse:

Do you ever feel overwhelmed, not knowing what step to take next? If you do, and if you want to join me this week in learning this short, simple prayer, simply comment on this post with the word “Amen!”

Together, this week, we’ll look to God for answers we do not have.

A Special Message to Stressed Out Church Planters (and others)

Dear church planter (and others)…

In the growth phase, everything is changing, life moves at rocket pace…

Somedays you don’t know whether you are coming or going…

It’s a bit overwhelming, stressful, even a bit scary at times…

I hear this often from new church plants and fast growing churches…

I feel (and identify with) your pain…

I see part of my calling to help church leaders during this time…

I pray you protect your heart and your family…

But…

Let’s hope things never change…

Oh, don’t misunderstand, I hope you get better…

I hope you increase structure as needed…

I hope you can soon afford more staff…

I hope more volunteers are recruited…

I hope more people start financially contributing to the vision…

I hope you gain wisdom from others who have gone before you…

But I hope you never stop feeling somewhat overwhelmed…

I hope that the sense of facing the unknown never completely leaves you…

You see…

If you ever get to the point where you always know what to do next…

You’ve probably reached your threshold for growth…

You’ll no longer need to walk by faith…

You’ll soon become bored, perhaps even complacent…

And, that’s not the dream God called you to…

Growth and change is always uncomfortable, because it’s taking you into the unknown…

Dear church planter (and others), if the stress is from things going right…God is bringing new people…He’s stretching your leadership skills…He’s allowing you to encounter the messiness of extending love and grace to hurting people…He’s accomplishing His will through you…

Praise God…stay on your knees…and rejoice that He is displaying His glory!

Do you need to be reminded to enjoy the journey today?

 

A Parent’s Greatest Prayer

I love the story of Manoah and his wife. They had been unable to give birth until one day an angel of God brings them news of a child to be born. As Manoah’s wife came to him with the good news, Manoah immediately did what happens to many men and wome when they discover they are about to be parents…he prayed!

In that moment, realizing they were about to be blessed with one of life’s greatest blessings, Manoah prayed the most important prayer a parent can pray:

Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” (Judges 13:8)

Parenting is hard work. All of us have seasons we could use more prayer for our children.

What are the current prayers you have for your children?  What specifically do they need the most?

What are you presntly praying about for your parenting skills?  What specifically do you need the most?

I always tried to focus my greatest prayers on the character of my children.   What character issues are your children needing to mature in these days? Try asking God to help you know how to parent your children to develop in these areas.

(BTW, if you are interested or need this, I have written two previous posts about dealing with childlessness. You can read those posts HERE and HERE.)

What’s Your Continual Prayer

This woman told our team that she prayed 40 years for a church to come to Compound Village where she lives in Sierra Leone. Africa for Jesus recently opened Believers Church and it is the first ever Christian Church in a village with over 3,000 people. I was amazed by her faith and consistent prayer.

For what or whom have you been continually praying?