The Opportunity of Insomnia

by Sarah Geringer April 27, 2021
“The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’” 1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)
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I rolled over in the darkness to peek at the clock, hoping it was somewhere close to daylight. But no, it was the 3 a.m. hour. Again.

Frustrated, I rolled over as quietly as possible so as not to disturb my husband’s sleep. I didn’t want to get up and wake everyone in the house. Plus, rising that early invites fatigue the rest of the day.

Yet I was awake, and I needed something to occupy my thoughts. My to-do list proffered an enticing pull. My worries cried out for another round of rumination. But I sensed another possibility as I had before in the increasing frequency of my 3 a.m. awakenings.

What came to mind was a story from my childhood Sunday school classes, when the boy Samuel was sleeping in the temple. He thought he heard Eli, the priest, calling for him in the night. On Samuel’s third approach to him, Eli realized the Lord was calling to Samuel. He coached Samuel to respond, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10b).

When Samuel responded to God with willingness, he received fresh insight from God. The middle of the night was the time God chose to give Samuel a new message.

With a mixture of hesitation and hope, I mouthed that phrase to God in the 3 a.m. darkness, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” That’s how I discovered a secret place of communion with God, right there in the middle of the night.

Studies show we need either five or six 90-minute sleep cycles to feel rested. By nudging me awake in the 3 a.m. hour, God was inviting me to meet with Him between cycles four and five. When I started viewing my insomnia as an opportunity rather than an annoyance, I began experiencing deeper fellowship with God.

Why did God designate that time for our fellowship? I believe He knows He has my undivided attention in that quiet darkness. I’m so busy throughout the day it’s harder for me to hear His still, small voice among all the noise. But in the middle of the night, I can hear Him calling to me, loud and clear.

Jesus Himself intentionally rose early to spend time with His Father in the predawn darkness. (Mark 1:35) Perhaps He knew it was the best time to hear His Father’s voice before His to-do list began for the day.

Since Jesus made the most of His predawn hours, He will help me do the same. I began designating the 3 a.m. hour as a time for meditation, prayer, praise and thanksgiving. A time to cast my cares on the Lord instead of fretting about them. (1 Peter 5:7) A time to be still and know God is in control over every item on my to-do list. (Psalm 46:10)

My insomnia is now a reminder to seek God’s presence. When I roll over and see 3 a.m. on the clock, I assume it’s an invitation. Like Samuel, I say, “Here I am, Lord. Speak, for your servant is listening.” And God is faithful to give me fresh insights, new encouragement and greater peace, even in the predawn darkness.

Father God, thank You for the opportunity to meet You in my insomnia. Help me hear Your voice in those quiet hours before my busy day begins. I want to deepen my relationship with You even in the middle of the night. May I seize this opportunity for sweet fellowship with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Psalm 63:6, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.” (NIV)


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What temptations do you face when dealing with insomnia? How can you use insomnia or other annoyances as invitations to deepen your relationship with God? Share your thoughts and prayer requests in the comments.

© 2021 by Sarah Geringer. All rights reserved.

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