Are we awake spiritually? Or are we too caught up in our daily tasks? Let’s consider the periods of slumbering and awakening in our lives, and how we can learn to stay awake.
God’s Holy Spirit is active, but our human spirit, the “spirit in man” (Job 32.8), which makes us each a unique individual, can slumber if we prevent God’s Spirit from working in us. Just like when we are driving along, mind wandering, and find that we’ve lost track of how we got to where we are, so a slumbering spirit can sneak up on us. But sudden wakefulness provides one of the most powerful insights given to us as God’s people.
Throughout God’s word we are thoroughly warned against spiritual slumber. It’s a focus of His mercy toward us now because He knows the constant distractions we face in the end times: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed,” (Romans 13:11).
There is no such thing as spiritual autopilot. We can’t take a casual approach and assume that all is well. But, what can we do? “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober,” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6).
Paul advises us in this passage to be alert, watchful, and self-controlled. While the distractions of the world dizzily spin around us, we acknowledge their appeal, but still discipline our priorities. With the help of God’s Spirit, we can set our will to pay attention to the things that are most important.
Watchfulness and prayer go hand in hand. We need strength from our Father to remain alert and to overcome trouble and temptation. Prayer connects us to God as our source of power. We also need to be familiar with the Word of God. The Bible is the standard by which we measure our faith and obedience. It teaches us the difference between the spiritual health of wakefulness, and spiritual slumber.
We must be aware of our own strengths, weaknesses, and habits. What sins do we find hardest to resist? When are we most tempted? And conversely, what people or situations seem most helpful? By reflecting on these things, we can take an active role in our spiritual lives.
Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness for the lessons and opportunities provided to us, which, if we respond, have the potential to awaken us. Thankfulness expresses a teachable nature where God can show us areas in which we need to grow.
Taking these steps and being in an awakened state leads to a mature conscience and a good understanding of repentance. It helps us work powerfully beforehand to prevent trouble or sin. An awakened mind is actively affected by the Holy Spirit, making us aware of how our words and actions will affect our relationships with each other and with God.
While we have time lets, “Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you,” (Revelation 3:3, NRSV).