I've discovered that one of the characteristics of life in the early-menopausal, late-40's is disrupted sleep patterns. Waking up at random times in the wee hours of the morning - not completely rested for the start of a new day, yet awake and with an active mind. Sleeping straight through the night is now the exception rather than the norm.
When I was struggling to meet the needs of several very young children, I reacted to late-night wakefulness with dread, tossing and turning and praying for a return of sleep. I'm one of those people who needs lots of sleep in order to function rationally, and I knew I wouldn't be in any shape to face a new day without it. If I missed sleep, everyone in the house suffered.
But this new phenomenon is different, and has presented itself as a blessing rather than a curse. Very often, I wake thinking of someone in particular for whom I can pray. It's almost as if God Himself is rousing me from sleep, saying "Camille, while the house is quiet and still, pray for your friend -------!". And that thought and prayer leads to another, and another, and often, when my mind finally begins to grow foggy with sleep, I find the wakeful time has sped by and seems to be ending too soon.
This morning, I woke in the wee hours thinking of one of the young, newly-wed couples at Grace. They are expecting their first baby in January. Such a precious family! Thinking of and praying for them led me to think of another young couple at Grace, just recently engaged. Then of another couple who are planning a spring wedding. Then another young family who have just recently joined our fellowship. Then my own newly-wed daughter and her dear husband. And my young niece and her husband and their new baby. Seems this was the morning of newly weds and the soon-to-be-married!
But near the end of this morning's prayer journey, I had a sinking spell. It occurred to me that somewhere else, in the star-lit hours of the night, someone else was lying awake and praying for those God brought to mind. "Is anyone praying for me?" I asked God. "In the struggles and trials I'm currently facing, is someone lying awake burdened for my needs, for my faith?" I began running through a list of those who know me and love me best, those with their fingers on my heart's pulse. Hopefully, they were all sound asleep in their beds at 2:47 a.m.! Yet I felt so desperately in need of prayer. Who could I turn to at such an outrageous hour?
Thankfully, the God who wakes middle-age women and prompts them to pray, also teaches them how to pray. "Jesus, you must pray for me yourself. The world around me is asleep. Jesus, only you are here to make intercession for this weary child."
Great comfort came with that thought, that prayer this morning. I can pray at 2:47 in the morning, for others or for myself, and have confidence my prayers are heard - because God never sleeps. Jesus can pray for me at 2:47 in the morning, because He is always ready to intercede for the saints. And, His prayers will be heard and answered, being perfectly conformed to the will of His Father.
Scripture being the only sure basis of truth and any confidence I may claim, that's the first place I headed after showering and dressing this morning. "Tell me it is so. Tell me again that the assurances given in the night are true and reliable. Tell me I really can rest in the confidence that someone - Christ, no less - is praying for me right now." And here is what I found....
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:23-25
Permanently. Forever. Always. Jesus lives to make intercession....intercession for me, to a God who "never slumbers, never sleeps."
That, my friends, is very great encouragement indeed!
6 days ago