[This article was published by a church in another part of the state of Florida. It has been copied and adapted (and who knows what else) from a February, 2008 issue of Homiletics. Coincidently, it shows that clean humor exists. The full title is: How to Sleep Through a Sermon Without the Preacher Noticing.]
We all know how taxing it is to get up early on a Sunday morning. Most folks arise early Monday through Friday because they need to work for a living. If Saturday is a day off, some will be up early (maybe before dawn) to go fishing or otherwise prepare for a day of recreation. That only leaves Sunday to sleep in and really enjoy oneself. Couldn’t worship wait just a little while? There should be time for a leisurely awakening (sometime around 11:00 A.M., let’s say). After getting ready and eating breakfast out, there is plenty of time left in the day to remember God—well, say, after a judicious nap. We could all meet around 4:00 P.M., and everyone would be happy, but, no, we are accustomed to meeting at nine or ten in the morning. One can scarcely blame those who need additional rest after rising early enough to be present. So, here are some tips on how to sleep during the sermon without getting caught.
First, never fall asleep flat on the pew. To avoid this embarrassment, it is actually better to sit in a crowded pew, shoulder to shoulder, with worshipers on your left and on your right. Otherwise, you might slide into a prone position, and that’s really noticeable. Read Acts 20:9 and learn from it. A guy named Eutychus was sitting in a window while Paul was preaching, and he toppled three stories to the ground below. He was “taken up dead,” but fortunately the apostle Paul was able to intervene and restore his life. Our aim here is not to be judgmental or “preachy,” but bad things can happen when you snooze without taking the proper safeguards. Besides, your preacher is no apostle Paul. Trust me.
Second, when you sleep, don’t fall completely asleep; just take power naps instead. If you fall completely asleep, your sleep apnea may kick in, and that would make you conspicuous. It’s far better to just half-sleep and remain vaguely aware of your surroundings. It helps to use a Bible to prop your chin up—or lean against your head. You can close your eyes as long as the Bible is in view. That way the preacher will probably think you’re praying. Also, you’ll be ready if the preacher asks you to lead the closing prayer.
Third, have a friend be a watcher. Sit with someone who is sympathetic to your cause. Your spouse might not be the right person for this. A spouse tends to poke you, which in turn may cause you to shout suddenly, attracting attention to yourself. No, you need a friend who will give you a gentle nudge if the preacher seems to be looking in your direction a lot. Make sure that a Bible is open on your lap or is prominently in view. In those moments when you are barely conscious, turn a few pages, rustling them loudly, so that people will think you are following along. Occasionally, your friend can rouse you so that you can say a quick, “Amen,” and then get right back to your nap.
Fourth, do not sit on the back pew. Believe it or not, this is the first place preachers look for sermon slackers. If you sit in the first few rows, you can actually get more sleep because normally preachers are looking right over you. You might think this ploy doesn’t work, but try it. You should come away well rested.
Fifth, make it a point not to sleep through the entire sermon. After all, the preacher probably has something you really need to hear. But once you’ve heard it, you have no further obligation to stay awake. Also, if you remain awake for at least part of the message, you can then refer to it on your way out, when you’re telling him how much you enjoyed the service. You can shake his hand and say, “Wonderful sermon, preacher! I especially enjoyed the part where….”
These tips have proven helpful to an awful lot of folks. Just make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands.