Sleepless Nights: How Our Trials Are Sometimes the Way God Answers Our Prayers

Every parent knows the struggle of being sleep-deprived. The struggle is compounded when not only you yourself are sleep-deprived but when you have a sleep-deprived infant as well. It seems to be one of the most genuinely cruel tricks of nature that our babies – for whom sleep is LITERALLY the second most important thing to their survival and development – DO NOT KNOW how to put themselves to sleep! And yet, many a mom and dad are doing the zombie-shuffle back and forth from their sweet babes bedroom tonight as their little one screams incessantly for being awake too long. It’s a good thing they’re cute, right?

We had a night like this just this last week. Our four-and-a-half month old has struggled with sleep much more than her older sister ever did. A typical night looks like her waking ever 3 hours to eat – and the prospects were low that that was going to change anytime soon.

Unfortunately, the day had been a busy one and little girl hadn’t had enough daytime sleep hours so by the time bedtime rolled around she was a miserable mess and her parents were about two seconds away from following suit, curling up on the floor of our room and bawling our eyes out too.

Finally, after much wrestling with the Lord and our baby, she fell into a fitful sleep. With the clock having run far past our normal bedtime, my husband and I said a brief couples’ prayer before turning to the Lord individually.

I function very VERY poorly on little sleep. Even as a college student with outgoing, night owl girlfriends I was ALWAYS in bed between 9-9:30pm. You do not want to meet me on anything less than 8 hours of sleep – that person isn’t Christlike. It’s a quality that I have perceived as a flaw, or at least as a detriment, until a recent blessing when the Father assured me “I created you, and so I know how badly you need sleep”. Boom. Instant validation.

By the time I mentally uttered my feeble prayers I was so far past exhausted. My tank was empty, my minds’ eye blurred with fatigue, and all I wanted – all I NEEDED – was sleep. I plead with the Lord that he would help my baby rest soundly and deeply that I too may be able to get the rest that my body and soul so desperately craved. My heart was in this prayer – this was no passive ask.

No sooner had I said “amen” than my sweet, sleep-stealing child wailed awake.

Had I have had more energy, I may have been desperately disappointed at that sound and gave a show of stomping feet, or at least a frustrated growl. As it was, I closed my eyes, took a steadying breath and attended to my girl, giving her another feeding as I tried not to cry – with tears and prayers – for relief. As I nursed her, I found myself throwing thoughts at the Lord.

You know my need. I know you heard my prayer. I asked earnestly and with faith, knowing that you can heal this situation if only you would. I believe you love me and my child, and that the thing I ask of you is righteous and well-intentioned. So why am I denied this desire of my heart?

The thoughts went on in a similar attitude for a blurry while until, in his typical soft-yet-piercing voice, the Spirit answered.

What if the trial is how I answer your prayer?

What if having your sleep delayed even a little bit longer is the key to both you and your daughter getting a full night’s slumber? What if, in my knowing and wisdom and love for you, I can grant you your desires – if you are willing to sacrifice first? What if I know more than you and will require of you what is necessary so that I can give you the very best blessings later?

I finished feeding my baby – and she proceeded to sleep until 6:45am. She had never slept so long a stretch before.

Mortality is near-sighted. We often can’t see past our noses as we try to discern why things happen a certain way or why prayers seemingly go unanswered and we are stuck in our trials. Getting sleep with a new baby is such a weak comparison for the aching and wanting we sometimes experience when it looks like the Lord just won’t give us what we are seeking.

But as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are blessed with knowledge that opens our understanding. We know that our Savior loves us more than the word can possibly encompass or describe. We know that He is perfect and has a perfect knowledge of all things, including our personal hungering and thirsting after blessings. As we keep our covenants and strive to live up to our privileges, we are worthy of blessings which He is bound to give us.

With these things in mind, we can rest assured that even when the Lord seems to be denying our prayers and petitions, He has always in His sight the greatest blessings, some of which we can obtain only as we “pass through sorrow”.

May we strive to develop the spiritual sight and perspective that allows us to see our own spiritual sleepless nights as divine investments in the best the Lord can and will offer us.