By Dawn Wilson, Crosswalk.com
We’ve all been there. Rolling over and over in bed, rehearsing a frustration from our workday, or struggling with fear over something in the future. Stressed out and sleepless, we’re wishing morning would come.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Word of God contains countless opportunities for meditation. As we ponder biblical truths, we can find release from our stress and fears.
The following short scriptures are by no means all the meditation-worthy passages for bedtime. They don’t cover the power of the Gospel, our identity in Christ, or the blessings of being controlled by the Spirit of God—but they do contain truths about rest and sleep that can help Christians begin to meditate as they pillow their heads at night:
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1. Psalm 63:6
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. – Psalm 63:6
Sometimes when we lie down at night, it’s simply hard to fall asleep. In biblical days, the night was divided into four watches of three hours each. The Psalmist said he spent time in these “watches” meditating in grateful reflection on the Lord.
When we cannot sleep during a ‘watch’ of our night, it’s a good practice to spend time focusing on God and remembering who He is and what He has done—allowing the Lord to fill our thoughts and encourage our hearts.
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2. Psalm 127:2
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves. – Psalm 127:2
Almost everyone knows the stress of everyday living. We labor for our livelihood, often getting up early and staying up late. Long hours, in and of themselves, are not wrong; but they are “vain” or empty when we fail to plan in sufficient times for rest and sleep.
In the good providence of God, He gives His beloved ones sleep. As we lie on our bed, we might reflect on our priorities and calendars, and ask the Lord if something might change so we can better enjoy the healthy and healing sleep He desires for us.
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3. Psalm 91:1
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1
Our powerful God shields all who dwell with Him. When we abide in His constant care and protection, we will find rest for our souls from the chaos and confusion of this world.
As we lie on our beds at night, it will do our hearts good to set aside the cares of the day and meditate on God’s presence, power, and protection as we drift off to sleep.
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4. Proverbs 3:24
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. – Proverbs 3:24
As we lie down to sleep, we can take some time to meditate on the holy presence of the Lord in our lives. We can allow the reality of His love for us to cast out our fears.
We might thank our Heavenly Father for the indwelling Holy Spirit who teaches Christians how to rest in the Lord and His Word.
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5. Psalm 4:8
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me to dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8
There is no source of lasting peace outside of the Lord. Part of that peace is our understanding of God’s providential care. We dwell in “safety,” no matter our circumstances. We are surrounded with God’s favor, “as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).
As we meditate on this verse, we might ask God to help us see life from His perspective so we’ll begin to understand we are entirely safe in Christ—we are secure in eternity with Him.
In a similar scripture, Job 11:18, we read, “You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.” The hope we have in the Lord brings us security and safety, and that affects how we sleep.
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6. Psalm 121:3
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber. – Psalm 121:3
The phrase, “let your foot slip” refers to our not falling into mischief. The path of life can be difficult and dangerous, but God is our Keeper. Along the hills and ditches of Israel, there were many slippery places. A single false step might cause a person to fall and be injured. The psalmist said as we move forward in our walk with God, we will not be destroyed.
Why? Like a bodyguard, God is constantly watching over us. We can look to Him to rescue us (Psalm 25:15). We need Him in the daytime, and we need Him at night. He’s not sleeping, even as we drift off to sleep.
In his faithful watching, the Lord will not neglect anything that is necessary to preserve us. Peace comes as we meditate on this truth.
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7. Psalm 116:7
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. – Psalm 116:7
Maybe it’s been a totally stressful day. We’ve been overwhelmed by responsibilities or deadlines or recurring evil. Yet the psalmist says, “Return to your rest!”
When we are troubled and stressed, we have complete liberty in the Lord to return to that place of rest. It’s called “return” because we’ve known repose and refuge in God, but somehow we’ve moved away from that peaceful, restful place.
To return to rest, we can remember how God has dealt so bountifully with us (Psalm 23:1; 145:16, 19). He’s a good God. He has given us His Son—and in Jesus, all things. God sent us His Spirit. He will give us all spiritual blessings. We find peace and rest as we meditate on the goodness of God in our lives and thank Him.
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8. John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
While this verse does not deal specifically with rest or sleep, it does focus on the peace God wants to give us.
Jesus’ words to us can bring us the peace we seek as we drift off to sleep. His peace is not like the peace the world gives—a peace that promises, but does not deliver. The peace of God is real and lasting, powerful and comforting. It is peace from Heaven, coming to us through the Spirit (John 14:26-27). The Lord can soothe our troubled hearts and take away our fears.
At bedtime, we can meditate on the peace He alone can give; and if we don’t sense that peace, we might ask, “Am I trusting Him, or trusting in the fleeting, temporary peace of this world?”
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9. Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
Tired and struggling, we often try to make things work out without seeking the Lord or His help. When we operate independent of Him, there is no guarantee we will sense the rest He wants to give.
Verses 29-30speak of the “yoke” we need to take on—to learn from Jesus—if we want to find rest for our souls. Are we learning about peace from Jesus?
The Lord’s invitation is wide open to us: “Come to me.” Come into My presence. Come to My peace. Come to My power. Come to My provision. Meditating on all we have in Christ can help bring us to the place of rest He so wants to give.
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10. Psalm 3:5
“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” – Psalm 3:5
I once met a Christian woman who was afraid to sleep. Because she believed a lie from Satan, she feared not waking up again. She trembled in fear.
This verse might have comforted her. The Lord who made us also will sustain us. When we lie down and sleep, as Christians, we will “wake again”—whether on this earth or in eternity—because we belong to the Lord.
Meditating on God’s sustaining power at bedtime can be such a blessing. We can cast our burdens on Him and rest, knowing He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22). He will assist and support us. God never promised He would deliver us out of struggles, but He promised to sustain us through them, and He’ll keep His promise. We must trust Him. Then, when we wake up in the morning, we can rejoice—finding our God faithful!
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, publishes Upgrade with Dawn, and writes for Crosswalk.com and Christianity.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with Pacesetter Global Outreach.
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