G4L Discipleship is a seven-week program. You wouldn’t think that we would spend one of those seven weeks on rest. And yet that’s exactly what we do, and for good reason.
We’re convinced that rest is a biblical and a theological issue. We’re also convinced that one of the enemies of spiritual growth is excessive busyness and an inability to slow down. Rest is a key theme in Scripture, but it’s often neglected.
Let’s look at just one area of rest: sleep. Sleep matters for two reasons: a practical one, and a theological one.
A Practical Look at Sleep
Sleep is crucial. It helps maintain health, and helps improves performance and mood. Conversely, a lack of sleep has devastating results on health, performance, and mood. “Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with increased risk of infection, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, and infertility,” writes David Murray in Reset. “Two days of sleep reduction lead to a more than 20 percent reduction in attention spans, reaction times, strength, stamina, accuracy, and speed.” We simply function better when we get enough sleep.
John Piper recommends sleep as part of a good spiritual regimen:
For me, adequate sleep is not a matter of staying healthy. It is a matter of staying in the ministry. It is irrational that my future should look bleaker when I get four or five hours sleep several nights in a row. But that is irrelevant. Those are the facts. And I must live within the limits of facts. I commend sufficient sleep to you, for the sake of your proper assessment of God and his promises.
Theologian Don Carson gives similar counsel:
If you are among those who become nasty, cynical, or even full of doubt when you are missing your sleep, you are morally obligated to try to get the sleep you need. We are whole, complicated beings; our physical existence is tied to our spiritual well-being, to our mental outlook, to our relationships with others, including our relationship with God. Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep— not pray all night, but sleep.
Sleep is one of the most practical things we can do to function in every area of our lives, including in our walk with God.
A Theological Look at Sleep
According to David Murray, sleep is also a theological issue. “Few things are as theological as sleep,” he writes. “Show me your sleep pattern and I’ll show you your theology, because we all preach a sermon in and by our sleep.”
For example, when we pride ourselves on little sleep, we’re proclaiming the following truths:
- I don’t trust God with my work, my church, or my family.
- I don’t respect how my Creator has made me.
- I don’t believe that the soul and body are linked.
- I don’t need to demonstrate my rest in Christ.
- I worship idols.
“What sermon are you preaching in your sleep?” he asks.
So, Get Sleep!
We’re finding that in today’s culture, it takes deliberate action to get the rest and the sleep we need. Because it’s so important, we must take this action. It’s more important than we realize.
We can learn to see the importance of rest. We can gain biblical wisdom about rest. And then we can learn practices that help us build more rest, including sleep, into our lives.
We’d love to help you develop habits of rest in your life. We’ve created a program called G4L Discipleship that combines gospel, coaching, and habits to help you experience transformation in every area of your life.
Sleep is an important part of our lives. It’s also an important part of our discipleship. Rest well!