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Awake Thou that Sleepest - Reflections for Personal Devotion and Conversation with Others

(Sermon 3 in the Standard Sermons of John Wesley, written by Charles Wesley)
By: Lauren DeLano

1. Have you ever felt like you’re physically awake, yet asleep as you go through the motions of life or faith?

When we think about being asleep, we often think about our eyes being closed as we’re in a restful, reclining position. But when Wesley calls his listeners to wake up, he’s not talking about physically waking up. Instead, he is calling for people to wake up from “a deep sleep of the soul.” We find ourselves in this place when we forget that we are made in the image of God. Have you ever felt like you’re physically awake, yet asleep as you go through the motions of life or faith? You may not have your eyes closed, but you aren’t crying out, “What must I do to be saved?” or living a life that has been awakened by the transforming love and light of God.

2. Do you need to be awakened right now? If not now, what has awakened you during a time in your life when you were spiritually asleep?

We may have all experienced moments where we realize we’ve been asleep for too long. We’ve let our faith fall to the wayside or we’ve tried to tackle the world on our own. And, we realize that all this time, we have been spiritually asleep. The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) provides us with a picture of what it looks like to be awakened from “a deep sleep of the soul.” After journeying away from his father, trying to make it on his own, the prodigal son is awakened and returns home to the love of his father, who is excited to welcome him back! In the same way, God welcomes us when we awake and seek to experience the light of Christ that not only surrounds us, but resides in us. Thinking about the prodigal son’s story, do you need to be awakened right now? If not now, what has awakened you during a time in your life when you were spiritually asleep?

3. What is good about the words “retreat, sanctuary, and refuse”? What are the potential dangers, spiritually speaking?

Often churches emphasize the importance of retreats, silence, resting in God. We think that self-care is an important part of being a spiritually well-rounded person. Yet, during Wesley’s time, he was concerned that the church was viewed, perhaps too much, as a place to retreat from the problems of the world. We like the words “retreat,” “sanctuary,” “refuse.” What is good about these words? What are the potential dangers, spiritually speaking?