In the middle of the night, I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept me awake as I ran over one problem after another. Eventually, I decided to pray. If I turned my despair into prayer, sleep would be sure to come.

However, an hour later I was still awake and still restless.

Prayer should be the solution. If we talk to God about what’s making us anxious, the Bible says we will feel at peace, even if it doesn’t make sense considering the situation we’re in. But, how often has peace eluded you?

My first reaction was to get out of bed. If I wasn’t able to sleep, I may as well get up, be productive, and try and work out my problems on my laptop. However, I knew this plan would backfire later in the day. Not getting enough sleep would mean I’d be tired, grumpy and unable to function fully all day.

Then I realized something significant about the way I had been praying.

Although I was talking to God about my issues—well, more like having a monologue—I wasn’t handing them over to him.

I held on tight to my troubles. After all, they were my problems to solve.

I was like the monkey in the parable who slips his hand in the jar. He holds on so tight to what’s inside he cannot get his fist out. He’s stuck. If only he would let go, then he would be free.

This is what the Bible tells us to do when we’re holding onto our problems: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

I should have been throwing my problems on God, wanting to get rid of them. This may seem irreverent, but that’s exactly what God wants us to do.

Prayer is a means to letting go. Prayer puts distance between our problems and ourselves. Prayer, in this way, helps us sleep through the night and lead a healthier life the next day.

So, we fling our difficulties onto our heavenly Father who is willing to be loaded up with our burdens. He doesn’t need to sleep, but we do.

How do we put this into practice?

Use your imagination when you pray.

Imagine putting your anxieties in a sack. Bring your sack with you when you pray. When it’s too heavy to carry, drag it into the presence of your heavenly Father. Before his throne, open the sack, and tell him about each of your problems.

Then, when you’ve finished, be sure you leave each issue at the foot of God’s throne. Chain them there if you have to.

Make sure you go out of God’s throne room without them. Carry only the empty sack with you.

You see, it’s not until we release our anxiety to God that we can receive his peace.

Leave your problems with God.

Sometimes, we need to let go of control. We need to be dependent on God. We need to allow him to care for us.

We need to channel our despair into prayer, and leave it there—with God.

Other resources to help you:

Another way to look at it:

Pray like a fast-flowing river. Read more.

When we take our problems to God and lay them at his feet, he can turn the debris of our lives into rich fertile ground.

  • Yes! I wish I’d have read this around Christmas. A month of little sleep because anxiety was having a field day on me.
    Great and helpful tips! I love your visualization of loading up the sack with our problems and laying them before God. Brillant!
    I shared on Facebook:)

  • Prayer offers us the peace that only Jesus can provide. Like you said Rachel, prayer should be the solution. May we make it a priority of acknowledging God first in every situation. I always enjoy reading your insightful thoughts on prayer. It is a subject that is near to my heart. Have a fantastic weekend and may God continue to bless you and yours.

    • You make an important point, Horace, to acknowledge God first in every situation. When we begin our prayer by acknowledging his strength and power, then we can be even more confident in releasing our problems to him.

  • Prayer is the only thing that will bring me peace amid other chaos. It is as simple as thanking Him, loving Him and remember Zepheniah 3:17, He will quiet you will His love. I know, I laid awake with my heart pounding and mind racing too many times. Ephesians 2:18, He is our peace.

  • I recently read (somewhere) that the imagination is a good parallel to the biblical anatomical word “heart.” I’m there so often — letting that imagination go in the wrong direction, when it’s so much more faith-filled to imagine a scene filled to the brim with the power of God!

    • That’s an interesting parallel, Michele, I have not heard that before. Yes, we so often let our imaginations and our hearts run in the wrong direction instead of running straight to the security of God.

  • So what happens when you find that at a certain time every night for weeks on end that you just can’t sleep…even on nights that you are not anxious and worried. But after that specific time frame passes if I don’t allow myself to get too frustrated, then sleep comes. Even when you know this is a time to pray but your flesh gets super frustrated because all it wants is sleep. Love to hear your thoughts.

    • It’s so frustrating when our bodies get into a rhythm and habit of waking at a particular time in the night. Although, we can use it at as a time to pray I do believe God wants us to have a good night’s sleep. That’s how he’s designed us – to sleep well so we wake refreshed the next day. My family and I often have discussions about sleep patterns (because we travel a lot over multiple time zones) and how to get back to a healthy night’s sleep. To break a bad habit, we often try to identify and change what’s causing us to wake by eg going to bed later or making the room cooler. If it is a big problem, you might want to talk to your doctor.

  • Hey Rachel, I haven’t been over here in a while. I’m visiting from Crystal Storm’s linkup today. Great post. I always pray “God you know what wakes us up at 2 a.m.”… I’m with you, sis’….our problems are HIS to solve. Let’s cast them!

  • I also find that saying scripture when I can’t sleep helps me recognize that God is sovereign and in control – not me lol

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