Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (Alma 37)
In Alma 37, Alma turns over the sacred records to his son Helaman and instructs him on the importance of maintaining them and keeping them up to date going forward such that they can continue to be passed on, eventually coming forth to benefit future generations.
He then adds a piece of advice in verse 37 that we often quote today (it's easy to remember — chapter 37, verse 37):
"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God." (Alma 37:37)
Perhaps when you were a child — at least if you're as old as I am — your parents may have taught you a simple prayer to say at night when you were getting ready for bed. It would have gone something like this:
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray Thee Lord, my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray Thee Lord, my soul to take
If I should live for other days
I pray Thee Lord, to guide my ways
If you think about it, this sounds a little bit like Alma 37:37 (except for the rhyming part). We're speaking to God as we prepare to sleep, putting ourselves in His hands, looking forward to arising the next day and seeking his guidance for whatever He would have us to do.
As an adult, you likely don't say the words above, but hopefully you haven't gotten away from the practice of speaking to the Lord before lying down to sleep at night. Yes, it's true that you can speak to Him at any time of the day (and you should be) but maintaining the routine of speaking to him before going to sleep has several advantages:
- It ensures that you are maintaining a consistent pattern of communication with God.
- It allows you to review the day with Him and thank Him for all He did for you.
- It allows you to look ahead to the next day(s) and seek His counsel and assistance for what is coming up.
- And, yes, it allows you to ask God to watch over you while you sleep and perhaps even communicate with you in some way during the night.
There have been several occasions in my life when God has communicated with me during the night. There were times when I was blessed with meaningful dreams that gave me direction and encouragement when I needed it.
There was even one time when I spoke to the Lord before going to sleep and asked Him to help my team at work to figure out a software design problem we had encountered that day. When I woke up the next morning, the first thought in my head was the exact solution to the problem. (You should have seen the faces of the other team members at the office when I shared the solution with them and then told them I had prayed about it and God gave me the answer!)
We may only work from sunup to sundown, but God is at work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, as you prepare to lie down for the night, God is there, ready to review your day with you and provide counsel for the day(s) to come. Take advantage of the opportunity — He will direct you for good.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.