April 3, 2009 — A former member of the Christian band Third Day is helping people find restful sleep through a CD project that mixes music therapy with Scripture.
Billy Wilkins, 43, said he developed the Wesley Sleep Program to help people end their day at peace by focusing on Jesus. But he also thought it could serve as an evangelistic tool.
Using Scripture readings, the 60-minute CD takes listeners through four steps toward finding peace: confessing sin, calling on the Comforter to let His presence rest with them; casting their cares on God; and confirming their place in God’s family.
“What excites me the most, just the thought of an unbeliever who’s open-minded enough to first confess their sin, and then ask the Holy Spirit to come into their lives, I think now they’re opening themselves up to allow God to work in their lives,” Wilkins said. “It’s the Holy Spirit who will change a person’s life by bringing them to the realization that it’s through Jesus that we can gain salvation and He’s the one who gives us true peace.”
Wilkins knows how it feels to lose sleep. Once riddled with anxiety because of a family crisis, he went to doctors and was prescribed a leading prescription anti-anxiety medication.
“I’m not against anyone using prescription medication, but in my case, I began to rely on these medications every night,” he said. “And I went through a period where I absolutely could not go to sleep without the prescription drug. And I didn’t want to rely on drugs for my whole life.”
He tried a sleep-therapy CD, and it helped but he was bothered by its New Age leanings. “So I started researching the Scriptures on the topic of rest,” he said. “I was overwhelmed by how often God mentions in the Bible how He wants His children to rest.”
He said his favorite example is from Mark 4:39, when Jesus slept on the boat in the midst of a terrible storm. “That’s a great example of how we can learn the importance of what true peace will do within our own spirits when we go through our own personal storms,” Wilkins said. “Jesus was able to [rest], and He is our example.”
He said ending his day listening to God’s Word has helped him and others walk in the Spirit. “This program has helped people to do that,” he said. “One college student wrote in and said he has found himself, day by day, walking more in the spirit because he’s ending his day in Christ.”
Since it released in December, the program has risen to the top of Amazon.com’s Audio Books best-seller lists. Although he doesn’t advise listeners to stop taking sleep medication without consulting a doctor, Wilkins said people have told him they found more peace listening to his sleep program than through their prescription drugs.
One woman said she’d had multiple sclerosis for more than a decade and nothing had helped her sleep because the pain was too great. “She said the Wesley Sleep Program was the only thing that had helped, and now she falls asleep in 10 to 15 minutes,” Wilkins said.
In another instance, a mother whose 14-year-old had been diagnosed with ADHD told him the sleep program had been more effective with helping her son rest than his ADHD medication.
“All of [the testimonies] confirm in my mind that it was God who led me to put this program together as a tool to help change people’s lives,” Wilkins said. “I just believe He wants us to rely on Him for peace as we place our faith totally in Him.”