Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

A prime secret of meditation is getting your subconscience to dwell on a thought from the Scriptures while you sleep. Then you can meditate on God’s word, as the psalmist says, “day and night”

During my many years in the Navy aboard ship, the subject of the breakfast conversations always seemed to be the plot of the movie the crew had seen the night before.

Why was this? It was because everyone who went to the movie observed the plot and thought about what had taken place, and this was in their minds as they dropped off to sleep. During sleep each man’s subconscience analyzed the plot and perhaps brought out details his conscience hadn’t recognized. When he awoke in the morning he realized several new angles in the plot he hadn’t appreciated the night before. Hence the reason for the breakfast conversation. Each man’s subconscience had highlighted the plot and passed it back to his conscience in this amplified state.

When we go to sleep and the conscious mind turns control of the body over to the subconscience, the conscious mind relaxes and empties itself. So the most recent thought in the conscience is transferred to the subconscience.

Too often, that which is transferred is an unhealthy anxiety—something we’re worrying about. The response of the subconscious mind to inheriting this worrisome problem is What a dirty trick!

A restless night may be in store, because the subconscience requires energy to concentrate on a problem it did not want. The normal function of the subconscience—to rebuild the physical and mental parts of the body to their greatest peak of energy and usefulness—is upset. Instead of relaxing, you toss and turn. Also, it seems as if the subconscious mind gets tired of struggling with the anxiety and hands it back to the conscious mind. You wake up often during the night as the problem keeps bouncing back into the conscience.

What’s more, the subconscious mind, not being efficient in weighing the facts, distorts them. So when you awake, the problem seems even more acute and aggravated than when you first tried to sleep with it.

The conscious mind and the subconscious mind continue in this tug-of-war throughout the night, so you get up in the morning more exhausted than when you went to bed.

These anxieties come from our fears and perceived threats. But God doesn’t want our subconscious mind to be occupied at night with either anxieties or movie plots, as indicated by such verses in Scripture as “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8), and “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

God wants us to meditate on his word day and night. In order to do so, we must make use of the subconscience. We should make sure the last prevailing thought in our conscious minds at the end of the day is some portion of Scripture.

We need, as someone has put it, to give God the night key to our hearts. We give him that key by making use of his word. If the last waking thought you have is something from the Scriptures, then when you awaken during the night or in the morning this will still be the most prominent thought in your mind. By locking God’s word in your mind for the night and locking other thoughts out, your subconscience can think about what God has to say to you.

This may take some cooperation from your husband or wife, but it can be worked out. Just have an agreement that God’s word will be the last word, and the last few minutes before going to sleep will be spent in fixing a thought from the Scriptures in your conscious mind so it will be transferred into the subconscience.

How about trying it tonight? Let’s say, for example, that before going to bed you start reading Psalm 46. (Many of the Psalms are excellent for helping us overcome fears and anxieties.) You read in the opening lines, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” Immediately you decide to believe this statement, and to try appropriating God’s strength and help in any situation that may arise tomorrow.

You close your Bible, and, making sure these scriptural thoughts are prominent in your mind, you drop off to sleep thinking about Psalm 46:1.

If you awaken during the night you can follow the example of the psalmist in Psalm 119:55-“In the night I remember your name, O Lord.” You can deliberately recall Psalm 46:1.

If you discipline yourself to turn your heart and mind to the thought God has given you every time you awaken in the night, and again on waking the first thing in the morning, you will discover that this thought has become a part of your life.

When you seek God’s help in the Bible, the Holy Spirit is able to emphasize the message from it that will satisfy your present need. As you sink the taproot of your soul—the mind—into God’s divine resources, you will draw spiritual life to prepare you for victory in the battles coming your way tomorrow. Christ’s words will become a living reality, just as Jesus said: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).

Regardless of what approach you use, make sure your last waking thought is some helpful communication from God. As your subconscious mind takes it over, you enter into this secret of meditation.

It is not only possible, but it is a delight to meditate on God’s word day and night.

By day the Lord directs his love,

at night his song is with me—

a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:8

Jim Downing

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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