Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I have fallen asleep more times than I can remember during worship. The one time it was embarrassing to me was when I woke myself up while in dream-state because I was snoring loudly. It was in a typical liberal Quaker meetinghouse with two sections of benches in the meetinghouse across from each other (no facing benches in modern liberal Quaker meetinghouse fashion) - with about twenty-five Quakers in each section in attendance (about 50 Friends in total). Upon awaking, I was greeted with the smiling faces of Friends on the other side of the room, along with a few quiet chuckles. Startled, I said quietly, "Oh my, I'm sorry; why didn't someone wake me?" One elderly Friend just smiled and said, "Why would we? We thought you must need the sleep, Friend. Go back to sleep."
That's one of those Quaker experiences that endear you to the meeting forever.
Well, sometimes I too just need to shut down & rest. But I'd prefer to be doing more than that, during a potential occasion for Divine inspiration and insights.
Also, it seems that I'm less likely to nod off when the others in Meeting impress me as being 'live ones' (quite apart from whether or not anyone speaks.)
This is a very old problem:
And, friends, all take heed of sleeping in meetings, and sottishness, and dullness; for it is an unsavory thing to see one sit nodding in a meeting, and so to lose the sense of the Lord. And it is a shame and a sadness both, and it grieves the upright and watchful, who wait upon the Lord, to see such things; and for the priests, people, and others, who come into your meetings, and see you, who come together to worship God, and to meet together to wait upon him, and to have fellowship in his spirit, for you to sit nodding, it is a shame and an unseemly thing. Therefore be careful and watchful, and let it be mended; and mind the light and power of Christ Jesus in you, and that will condemn all such things, and lead you out of, and above, such things, and make you watchful one over another for your good. (George Fox, Epistle 257)
So, yeah, don't do that.
I've never fallen asleep in meeting, but I've come very, very close. It's one of the pitfalls of a listening prayer practice - letting go of the mind's chatter and waiting for the Spirit.
I don't recommend falling asleep in meeting, but I also think a certain tolerance is needed.