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Monday, July 2, 2012

Sleeping in Church

Have you ever slept in church? I have. I’m not proud of it and haven’t done it in quite a while, but I have snoozed during more than a message or two. I remember one especially soporific church where the colors, soft carpet, low lights, no windows, and cushioned seating made it all I could do to stay awake during the service. When I was in college, if I was sitting so far back that I couldn’t distinguish the speaker’s facial features, that plus my constant lack of sleep made the perfect recipe for Zs.

I’ve never been bored in church, but yes, I’ve been sleepy. Sitting still, in a quiet building . . . .

I can sympathize greatly with a guy named Eutychus. He was in a church service in Troas where the Apostle Paul was preaching. Paul spoke until midnight. (When did he start?) Eutychus was sitting in the window. (Was he there to get a breeze so he could stay awake? Did he work long hours of hard, physical labor? Was this his only time off?) The Bible says there were many lights in the room. Now, in those days, lights were torches if you were lucky and little lamps if you weren’t. So, here Eutychus is, listening to Paul’s hours-long sermon, sitting in the window, viewing the proceedings by lamplight. Nod . . . Jerk up . . . Nod . . . Jerk . . . Nod . . . Snooze . . . PLOP!

Out the window, three stories down, and Eutychus is DEAD!

Paul quickly quits preaching. (He’d lost part of his audience!) He hurries down the stairs to find Eutychus’ body. Paul hugs Eutychus, and the dead young man comes back to life. It’s a miracle!

Several things impress me here. One is that God had compassion on this young man and raised him back to life. Another is that Eutychus isn’t bawled out by anyone about his having fallen asleep in church. No one tells him it was against safety regulations to have sat in the window, and you can bet he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Paul doesn’t seem insulted that his excellent—and long—message is disrupted. (In fact, Paul keeps talking, not preaching now, all night! I’m wondering if he’s counseling Eutychus, sharing stories, fellowshipping. Can you imagine the opportunity Eutychus had?) We don’t know the details, but I have a feeling Paul might have had a more effective ministry to this young man after the service was over!

The morals of this blog?
            Be careful where you sit in a low-lighted church.
            If someone near you sleeps, don’t be critical. God is the best Judge.
            Take advantage of face time with God’s servants.

(This story can be read in Acts 20:7-12.)


  1. I've been guilty of sleeping in church far too often. Often I'm not sleepy until the pastor begins his message with a prayer, then head bowed, eyes, closed....I get drowsy. A guest speaker from Pakistan opened in prayer as he did in his home church, arm outstretched, eyes opened, facing the congregation. That was a little disconcerting, to have someone looking at you while he is praying out loud, but at least it wouldn't promote drowsiness. :-)

    It's very true we shouldn't judge when someone is sleepy. In college I guy I went out with a few times fell sleep on every single date. I was quite perturbed. Later I found he worked the night shift, so I felt a little guilty, but then again, he probably should have been home sleeping instead of dating. :-D

    It is very hard to keep from dozing at church once you get sleepy. I've tried changing position, bouncing my leg, etc., but they don't help much. Taking notes does help a bit.

  2. Great highlight of a seldom-mentioned story, which by the way, is an amazing miracle as well! Occasionally, when I've not gotten enough sleep, I'll find that my eyes actually roll a bit as they struggle to stay up. I think it's all about getting enough sleep at night.

    I'm enjoying your Bible stories and the way you bring them around to practical, everyday needs. Keep up the good work, dear friend!


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