How to have a Sabbath

WHY IS A DAY OF REST IMPORTANT?

The Sabbath is a day blessed by God and set aside for rest and worship. One of the most important practices of Jesus was finding rest and making time for Sabbath. The human condition is prone to restlessness and our digital age and consumerist culture only exacerbates the problem. We must model the restfulness of Jesus, which is more than just a day, but is a spirit we live by all week long.

Scroll down to our recommended reading resources on Sabbath.

HOW TO SABBATH

1. Mark out a 24-hour time period (or as close as you can) each week to rest and worship.

There are three common variations of this practice:

  • The traditional Sabbath: from 20 minutes before sundown Friday night to the same time Saturday late afternoon. 

  • The Lord’s Day Sabbath: from the Sunday morning (or sometimes Saturday night) gathering, through bedtime on Sunday. 

  • The midweek Sabbath: any day during the week. 

  • Decide in advance if you want to begin in the evening—with a dinner or just before bed—or in the morning. We recommend starting in the evening, but there’s no “right way.”

  • If you have children, this article has good suggestions on the ways to Sabbath with them.

 

2. Pick a ritual to clearly begin and end your Sabbath.

If at all possible, establish a regular rhythm of Sabbath on the same day each week. Much of the Sabbath is about rhythms and rituals that set aside the day as “holy.” Beginning and ending with a marked moment will help you settle into rest and help you reenter the week with a restful spirit.

Here are a few ideas of how to begin the sabbath:

  •  Light a candle and invite the Holy Spirit to come and give your home light, joy, love, peace, and rest.

  • If you have a family, pray over the children and parents. If you’re with roommates or friends, this can be a wonderful time to bless each other, with prayers like: May you be happy and full of joy. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. May you find rest for your soul. Etc. 

  • Read a Psalm, sing a song, quote a poem, or pray a liturgy to center on God.

  • Start with a meal with family or friends

  • Go to church and worship or participate in online worship (woodlakeumc.org/livestream)

Here are a few ideas to end your Sabbath:

  • Take a slow, leisurely prayer walk around your neighborhood, nearby park, or nature reserve.

  • Read a psalm.

  • Share a meal with family and friends.

  • Spend some time alone or with your family and friends in prayers of gratitude.

  • Light a special candle, and share 1) the best part of your Sabbath; 2) what you are looking forward to in the week ahead; 3) end with prayers of gratitude.

3. Spend an entire day in rest and worship.

Fill your day with activities that are life-giving for your soul. Begin to distinguish between recreation and restoration. Begin to transition from entertainment, TV, social media, shopping, and going “out,” to activities that deeply connect you to Jesus and his rest.

Traditionally there are twelve activities that mark Sabbath practice:

  • Lighting the candles

  • Pray for the children

  • Eating a meal

  • Singing

  • Worshiping with your community

  • Walking

  • Napping

  • Making love

  • Reading

  • Spending time alone with God

  • Spending time with family and friends

  • Gratitude

This is not a “to do” list: there are no “to do”s on Sabbath! No oughts or shoulds. This is just a list of activities many people find restful and restorative.  Adapt your day to your personality, preference, stage of life, and however it is you connect with God.  Take the day to pamper your soul in God’s presence. 

RECOMMENDED READING
Follow along with the recommended reading as you practice Sabbath. Teaching plays a key role in how we change to become like Jesus. Learning is not the end, but it is the beginning. These books are a great place to start your journey. Here are some of our favorites with links to where you can buy them.

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