One night a little while back, I was ending my evening in my usual way. Jared and I were making our way toward bed and I started listing off to him all the things that were rattling around in my brain. And for me, 9 times out of 10 those things will be worries and anxieties. Sometimes it’s just the next day’s to-do’s and demands, sometimes it’s concern about one of our kids or worry about finances, and often it’s discouragement that I’m not “doing enough” in some particular area.
Anyway, I can’t recall the details of what I shared with Jared on that particular night, but what I do remember is what he said in response to me because it changed my life! Are you ready for it? He simply said, “Why are you choosing to think about those things right before you go to bed? Maybe you should set your mind on something else.” I have to say that I was immediately struck with the reasonableness of this counsel. It seemed so obvious that I don’t know how I missed it! In that moment, God used that simple question to inspire a new habit in my life.
After that conversation, I decided I would keep a book of just the Psalms on my nightstand and read from it every night before I fell asleep. It was an easy, tangible step I could take to move my mind from anxiety and discouragement to the truth of God’s word. This simple practice has now become a habit that has truly transformed what I fall asleep thinking about at night. Sure, those anxious thoughts can still creep in, but they don’t dominate the way they used to and I’m not spending my final waking hours mulling them over. Instead, I’m being reminded of who God is and the ways He cares for me.
For example, I’ve been struck by just how often the phrase “steadfast love” shows up in the Psalms and how it’s often linked with God’s faithfulness. What a comfort that is to this worrying heart. I’m often praying through some portion of what I’m reading and that is its own encouragement as I see my prayer life growing (in a small, but daily kind of way). My love for God’s Word is also increasing through this habit as there is usually something that has stood out and ministered to me in some way that makes me want to share it with others.
When I think about it, it’s kind of crazy that these 3-10 minutes I spend reading the Psalms each night could be so transformative, but it truly is. And I guess it actually makes a lot of sense because God’s Word is powerful. It’s what he uses to transform and make us more like his son. So I really shouldn’t be surprised that this “small” habit would have a really big effect! It reminds me of how eager God is to meet us in small steps of obedience. All I did was set a book of Psalms on my nightstand with the hope of reading it each night, and God has used that to instill a new habit that is daily renewing my mind and deepening my communion with him. Praise be to God!