The Slop of Sleep and Sloth

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’” Luke 9:28-35

When he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?’  And he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” Mark 14:37-38; Luke 22:45-46 

The disciples, especially Peter, had a sleeping problem. Repeatedly, Jesus alerts them from sleep, and warns them to watch and beware, yet we see Peter, time and again, awake from drowsiness to petulant violence, blurting words, and careless denials. (John 18:10,15-27)


While sleep is certainly vital to life and health, spiritual slumber is a dangerous habit. The vivid scenes of Jesus getting alone to pray, of going out early in the morning to commune with His heavenly Father, should inspire us to make a practice of rising from sleep to deliberately rejoice, realign, renew, and rest our souls in Him. (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16)

An older, wiser friend told me early in my marriage, “Do not speak to anyone in the morning until you have spoken to God, do not read anything until you have read His word.” We have biblical examples of how we slip into sloppiness when this advice is ignored. We can rise physically refreshed and mentally sharp, but it bodes us well to take time to commune with Jesus and focus on the unchanging truths of God’s word before embarking on our day. Worship of the Lord illuminates our minds, the Holy Spirit convicts and corrects, God’s word lights our path and sets us free to speak, understand, serve, and stand firm in His power. (Joshua 9:14-15,22; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14; Psalm 119:105; John 8:32; 14:6; 16:8)

Where have I given in to just ‘a little slumber and folding of [my] hands’? Where have I allowed complacency to creep in to my discernment of the news, scheduling of time, spending of resources? Have I grown slack, weary, and depleted? To stay sharp, I must shake off sleep and invite my Lord to fill and engage all my faculties, every moment of every day. (Proverbs 6:10-11; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 5:18)

Lord, guard me from slipping into spiritual sloth. Arouse me from the soporific hum of the world to full alertness and zeal for You. (Romans 12:11)


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