The Folly of Counting Sheep

counting sheep 1

Photo by Kevin Cawley (slimninja) Flickr cc


The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1-3)

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep. (Psalm 127: 2)

 Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of   your mind. (Romans 12:2)


Awhile ago I was teaching from Romans 12:1-2. I used as an illustration my current difficulties with getting to sleep and staying asleep. One night I had less then three hours total sleep. I recounted all my attempts to use the ‘sleep hygiene’ techniques that current worldly wisdom recommends.

I counted backwards from 100!  I counted white, wooly, British sheep! I kept the room cool and my feet warm.  I had no coffee after 7 p.m. I played soft music and let my thoughts go like balloons. I rebelled, however, against drinking warm milk and was eternally grateful that we don’t get ‘Horlicks’ here in Canada.

I had adopted the patterns of this world; not evil patterns but certainly not effective. My soul was trying to manage my soul with its racing thoughts, internal discussions and turbulent emotions.  I told the class that this insomnia needed a spiritual solution.

Following the class, one of the students shared her struggle with insomnia and the solution. She goes to bed quietly speaking out Scripture that she had memorized particularly Psalm 23.  I was humbled! Guess who had taught her to do that?  Guess who had taught her  to allow her spirit to instruct and bring peace to her soul?

For  several nights in a row I  quietly spoke  out Psalm 23 or meditated on the reality of those verses in my life and speaking my gratitude to Father. Warm, secure and safe beneath my duvet I  slept  in perfect peace and have awoken refreshed.

These simple actions again became  a pattern in my life.  If  I wake in the night I begin again to rehearse the truths of Psalm 23. Often I  get through only a few verses and I am back to sleep.

One of the primary mentors in my life  tells us to pull up from your spirit the strength, the comfort, the courage, the ………. you need.  I’m beginning to understand.

Don’t count sheep. Count on the Shepherd!   He will restore your soul.

Action Steps

  • Memorize Psalm 23
  • Speak
  • Reflect
  • Thank
  • Ask
  • Trust
  • Go back to sleep.




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2 thoughts on “The Folly of Counting Sheep

  1. Having struggled with sleep since my mid-teens, I wholeheartedly agree with your solution. As I have learned to trust in the good shepherd, slowly, slowly, the sleep issues have begun to resolve. Am I there yet? No, but there has been progress- it used to take me three hours to fall asleep – now takes about 10 minutes! I trust that as I learn to lean on the Lord, more healing in this area will come.