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How to Stay Awake in Church

Erin Hallstrom - February 14, 2013

The struggle to stay focused in church isn't always the fault of the teacher or speaker. Here's a helpful list of ways to make sure you're doing your best to be engaged in Sunday meetings.

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Let me make something clear from the get go: I don’t think church is boring. At least, not usually. Admittedly, there are times when I am walking out of my meetings wishing for something more. Maybe I’ve already forgotten the subject of the Sunday School lesson or zoned out on that last sacrament meeting talk because Brother Wilson speaks so . . . very . . . slow.

On days like that, I am often surprised when I hear someone else express how inspired they were. While nodding in agreement, I think to myself, “How is that possible!?” I usually conclude that clearly they are a better person than I and there is no way I will ever be that good, so I hold to my “church was boring today” opinion and make sure to keep all inner judgments to myself.

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The truth is, not everyone is a great speaker. Not every person called to be a teacher is good at leading a discussion or keeping the class on topic. One of the great blessings of our Church is that lay people are called to positions which might be out of their comfort zone—and I love that (unless I am asked to serve in Nursery)—but it also means that we can’t expect professionally delivered lessons and talks.

I understand this, but it leads to a problem. More often than not, I excuse away a “boring” Sunday by blaming the teachers and speakers. In moments of introspection, however, I confess I might have more to do with feelings of boredom than I would like to admit. So in an effort to keep our minds “awake” during Sunday worship, I put together a list of things that may just help lift a Sunday slump.

1. Read the weekly lessons
Have you ever been in a Sunday School class where the teacher asked for a show of hands from those who read the lesson? It has happened to me several times, and in every circumstance, the raised hands were pretty sparse. Abysmally so, in fact. Every time I have read the lesson before class, I have more fully enjoyed the discussion and am much more likely to contribute something meaningful to it. And yet, I fully admit that I don’t do this as often as I should.

We should read our lessons in advance. It doesn’t take long and the small time investment we make during the week will make a huge difference in our Sunday learning.

2. Get a good night's rest
Remember that old primary song? “Saturday is a special day . . .”? Part of getting ready for Sunday involves getting a good sleep the night before. And while this might sound like a pretty basic tip, I can’t tell you how many times I or others I know have been sleep deprived going into their meetings on Sunday, and that can often mean sleeping through those meetings.

There are exceptions to this rule--being up with a sick kid or a hungry baby is understandable. But if you can help it, try to get a good night’s sleep.

3. Stay off your phone
This one is tough. In the age of smart phones, it is super tempting to send a quick text (or three or four) or to check Facebook between (during) meetings. Admittedly, I love the technology that allows us to access our scriptures and manuals through a handheld device, and I support those who use their phones for this purpose. But it is a slippery slope, my friends. Playing a quick game or checking football scores during church might keep us “awake” in body but will disconnect us from the lesson or talk.
 
Don’t let your phone check you out during church.

4. Reach out
It's really easy to be consumed by our own needs. Or to get frustrated because attending church didn’t give you whatever you needed that day. Maybe we would all benefit from stepping outside of ourselves and making church about more than ourselves. Sit next to someone new, strike up a conversation, make a comment when no one is raising their hand, see a need and strive to help.

Make a concerted effort to serve someone else during meetings and attend church with more than yourself in mind.

5. Spiritually prepare
This is where the Sunday School answers come in: pray and read your scriptures. When we prepare spiritually for Sunday, the quality of the teacher will not matter, and the eloquence of the speaker will not be a factor.
 
If we are prepared and seek guidance in preparation to our meetings, we will be taught.

© LDS Living 2013. Image credit: Thinkstock.
Comments 4 comments

lb35 said...

08:05 AM
on Feb 14, 2013

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I sometimes have a hard time staying awake in church, especially after a 6 AM High Council meeting. But a Coke or Mt. Dew helps out a lot on those days!!

katamb said...

12:43 PM
on Feb 14, 2013

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I take notes. No matter what the speaking style of the teacher/speaker is, I can always find something to take notes on and am ready with my pen and note pad.

ephraim said...

06:14 PM
on Feb 14, 2013

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Staying awake isn't a problem in our ward. You can't sleep for the noise!!

bridget said...

03:30 PM
on Feb 19, 2013

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Our bishop sets the example by taking a snooze right there on the stand. (I guess he figures we don't notice that his eyes are closed and he's nodding off.) He could really benefit from this list, especially #5.
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