The Watches of the Night: Battling for Truth in the Midnight Hours

April 25, 2019  - By Heather Cofer

Battling for Truth in the Midnight Hours

Early Morning Moments

The time was 2 a.m. I could hear the deep, rhythmic breathing of my husband as I fed our newborn son. Since I don’t fall asleep easily, I had already been awake most of the night. A few years earlier this would have been really stressful for me, but after four children I had become somewhat accustomed to it. And, to my surprise, I realized that these times of quiet, when all the world was hushed and dark, had slowly become precious to me.

Not because I didn’t want to be sleeping, but because I could look back and see how many nights just like this one had been filled with prayer, ponderings, Scripture remembrance, and gaining victory over the fears that wanted to run rampant in my mind and heart. God had taken these hours that used to be so dreaded and begun to make them into times of communing with Him and standing upon His promises. They had become my “battling for truth” hours.

My husband is one of those people who is out within a few seconds of snuggling up under the cozy blankets … but I am not one of those people. When I put my head on the pillow it seems like every single thought comes rushing into my mind. (I’ve solved a lot of hypothetical issues in those late-night hours.)

God had taken these hours that used to be so dreaded and begun to make them into times of communing with Him and standing upon His promises.

It is the time of day when dwelling on “what if” and “could be” or “should be” scenarios is most tempting. And I’m not a night person, so my mind isn’t functioning at its greatest capacity. I’m definitely more prone to overreaction, worry, frustration, or hurt as I dwell by night on all the things happening in my life.

But I’ve come to learn that if it’s left up to me to try to come to the right conclusion about life’s struggles, I’ll get it all wrong. I’ve become more and more keenly aware of just how much I need truth to fill my mind and heart, especially in those quiet nights when I’m so susceptible to lies.

As the Lord has walked me through these midnight vigils, I’ve been amazed at how many times in Scripture it talks about seeking the Lord both day and night.

“By the day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8)

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” (Psalm 63:5–7)

“My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” (Psalm 119:148)

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

There is never a time in all the 24 hours that make up a day that we are not to be seeking the Lord, remembering Him, and fixing our gaze upon Him. We, as humans, need sleep. But God never sleeps. And there is something that brings a greater awe of Him when we awaken in the middle of the night to remember that He hasn’t left us, He hasn’t stopped watching over us, and that He is ready and waiting for us to cast all our anxieties upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).

Set Your Mind on Things Above

So, how do we go about fixing our minds upon Him in those wee hours when sleep eludes us and our minds are foggy and fighting to hold onto what we know to be true?

Prize His Word

Before those times of struggle ever come about, whether it’s in the middle of the day or night, we need to be preparing for them by spending time meditating on Scripture and hiding it in our hearts. We need to be equipped with the full armor of God to be able to “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11), and so much of this comes from poring over His Word, filling our minds and hearts with truth about God and His gospel, and learning on ever-deepening levels what that means for our lives.

I’ve found it helpful to have “anchor” verses that I’ve memorized and can immediately go to when lies and confusion try to overtake my mind and heart. Here are a few of my anchor verses:

Nothing is too big or too small for our great God to carry, and He delights for us—urges us—to come to Him in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). As we come before Him in praise, in weeping, in petition—with our burdens, hopes, and fears—He will be faithful to draw near to us (James 4:8), and give us all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3–4)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)

I’ve preached some pretty tough sermons to myself in the darkness of the night. And I’ve had some of the sweetest prayer times in my life, with no interruptions, as I’ve fought to keep my mind stayed on the One in whom is all I need. God has always come through. He has flooded my mind with Scripture I hadn’t even realized was hidden in my heart. The Lord has brought peace to the turmoil again and again by His truth. And he has reminded me He is the one in control, not me, and that is the most restful, joyful place to be.

There’s always a choice: Will we to try to take matters into our own hands? Or will we leave everything in His Almighty ones, surrendering ourselves humbly and joyfully to His perfect leading? By His grace, may we live in the rest and peace that surpass all understanding as we cling to Him and fix our eyes upon Him all day, everyday.

Your friend,

Heather Cofer is a wife and mother with a passion for encouraging others to love Jesus with all their hearts. This comes through writing, leading worship, and being actively involved in life-on-life discipleship alongside her husband, Judah, who is one of the pastors at their church. She is a regular contributor to the ministry of Set Apart Girl, and you can follow along on Heather’s journey through her Instagram or Facebook.

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I’ve preached some pretty tough sermons to myself in the darkness of the night. And I’ve had some of the sweetest prayer times in my life, with no interruptions, as I’ve fought to keep my mind stayed on the One in whom is all I need.

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  1. Cherry says:

    I find this blog very refreshing. Someone finally put my thoughts and experiences in such an inspiring way. And it’s good to know that it’s not just my crazy hormones that wake me up at night. That after all, it’s my sweet time with God.

  2. Janice Andreyka says:

    I enjoyed this fresh look at the ‘problem’ of being awake during the night. My son (45 yrs old) worries about not sleeping all night. It might not be a problem, rather an awakening to prayer and answers ! Thank you and I pray all will seek HIM during all hours !

  3. LuzComprendio says:

    I really thank God for what I have learned by reading this article. Indeed, I have identified myself with the author writing about what felt and what she was blessed with as she obeyed the Holy Spirit’s prompting when she spent her time with the Lord in the wee hours of the night. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article that has once again confirmed to me how privileged I am to be a part of ” battling for truth in the midnight hours” for His glory and praise.! God bless!

  4. Hope Dana says:

    Thanks Heather, Good bless and keep you, my sister

  5. Ebony says:

    This is wonderful, God bless all your efforts in Jesus name Amen! I have not being able to sleep fully or properly for the past 3 days but as I sit here reading “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection” by John Wesley along with this article I happened to find while looking for the meaning of “night watches”. I’m convinced that God wants to set aside this time to communicate and commune so I can begin to merge with His will, conforming me to the image of Christ. Hallelujah, Praise the Lord! Shalom all…

  6. Deloris says:

    Wow….. and thank you so much, so much of what you shared about how quickly your husband falls asleep and the battles we face in the wee hours, resonated deeply. But also the night watches and knowing how near our Heavenly Father is and how he is always awake…
    Ivan relate to all you shared and the encouragement to take with us to bed a night verse to help us do battle, during the watches of the night…

    Thank you

    Deloris Crocker

  7. Tamika says:

    I in-joyed reading this. Thank you😊

  8. Susan Duggins says:

    This was so encouraging! I wake up many times during the night. I need to remember these scriptures to fight the battle and remember that these times can be used for good even though the enemy wants to steal our sleep. These times we are awake at night can be a sweet time of fellowship with the Lord.

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