My friend Paula was the first person to ever speak to me about holy naps, though I suspect that God has been speaking to me about them in my heart since before I was born.
As a high school religion teacher, Paula sometimes begins class by giving her students the chance to take a holy nap. She simply encourages her students to remove all distractions, acknowledge that they are in the presence of God, lay down their heads, close their eyes, and rest in the Lord.
Holy naps have become one of my favorite forms of prayer, and not only did I take several of them while writing this article, but they are quite Biblical.
In 1 Samuel 3:3 we read that “Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was.” It almost sounds as if Samuel may have been sleeping in church, which makes me feel less guilty for the times I have dozed off there. And while he was sleeping the Lord called him…four times!
In 1 Kings 19:5 we read that Elijah was touched by an angel while he was sleeping – and, by the way, he took this nap while he was very depressed.
In Proverbs 3:24 we read this promise for those who pursue wisdom “When you lie down, you will not be afraid,
when you rest, your sleep will be sweet.”
There is so much more.
St. Joseph had several powerful encounters with God while sleeping; I’d encourage you to look them up. And there is even a popular devotion to St. Joseph related to owning a statue of St. Joseph Sleeping. Many people have found great comfort on writing their prayer requests on pieces of paper and putting them under this statue before going to sleep, asking St. Joseph to take care of those needs and sleep on them; how cool is that?
In Matthew 8:24 we read that “Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he (Jesus) was asleep.” If the Lord Jesus slept in the middle of the storm, and since I am called to follow His example, perhaps it’s OK for me to take a nap when there are storms in my heart.
My favorite quote related to holy naps come from St. Therese of Lisieux who struggled with falling asleep during her prayers and after receiving the Eucharist (which, by the way, puts me in good company!) She said this:
“I should be distressed that I drop off to sleep during my prayers and during my thanksgiving after Holy Communion. But I don’t feel at all distressed. I know that children are just as dear to their parents whether they are asleep or awake and I know that doctors put their patients to sleep before they operate.”
How cool is it to know that God loves me as I sleep, and that that He just might be operating on my heart, healing my heart, and making my heart stronger when I’m napping?
I’m sure I could write more about this topic, but I’m starting to feel a bit tired, so guess what I am going to do?
Here’s hoping that all your future naps are holy ones!
About the Author: Paul Masek is our retreat center’s program director. He and his wife Lisa are members of Incarnate Word Parish in Chesterfield, MO and are blessed to be the parents of four practically perfect children: Jacob, Audrey, Kyle, and Dominic. Paul loves hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, music, napping, movies, and binging a wide variety of entertaining shows. He loves to laugh almost as much as he enjoys seeing other people laugh.