"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." (Exodus 20:8, NIV)
God instructs his people to observe the Sabbath in the ten commandments, some of the most well-known verses in the Bible. So what is the Sabbath, and how is is relevant to us today? How can we remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy?
I used to think Sabbath was an archaic, outdated practice meant for the Old Testament Israelites. In my church, no one talked about Sabbath, let alone actually practice it.
One day a spiritual mentor, Una, mentioned to me that one of her favorite ways to connect with God was through her weekly Sabbath. She talked about Sabbath as a beautiful practice of rest, reflection, and soul care.
Intrigued by Una's experience of Sabbath, I blocked out an entire day to Sabbath. I soon recognized what a wonderful gift it was. Each week thereafter, I committed to practicing the Sabbath. It became a lifeline for my soul. Each time I practiced the Sabbath, I experienced God's presence in powerful ways, learned how to receive deeper rest, retreated from life's busyness and anxieties, and was able to pay more attention to God's voice.
What is the Sabbath?
Sabbath is a weekly day of rest and worship, created by God as a gift and grace to us. It allows us to clear away distractions from our lives so we can rest and experience God’s grace in a new way. On the Sabbath, we are invited into worship, peace, relationships, celebration and thankfulness.
How can we practice the Sabbath?
When we have decided to observe a Sabbath, we need to address two practical questions:
- What will I cease doing?
- What will I do during the Sabbath?
How you answer these questions will be shaped by your present situation and season of life. What is your work at this time? Whether it is a paid job, housework, or any “to do” list items, abstain from whatever doesn’t feel peaceful. In terms of what to do during a Sabbath, embrace activities that are restful, worshipful, and life-giving. Sabbath keeping involves both praying and playing. Below are some suggestions:
- Be in solitude
- Eat a meal with family
- Write or journal
- Read for fun
- Reflect on past week
- Enjoy nature
- Practice gratitude
Spend some time praying about what might be healthy and life-giving for you to do on the Sabbath. Ask God for guidance as you practice Sabbath keeping.
If Sabbath is a new rhythm for you, make a plan and follow it for 3 to 6 months. Resist the urge to analyze during that period; simply receive and experience the gift of Sabbath.
ACTION & PRACTICE
Create space for a Sabbath in this next week or month. Make some time before your Sabbath day to think about what you will do (and not do). You can print a free PDF version of my Sabbath guide. If you need more guidance for your Sabbath or spiritual retreat, feel free to connect with me.
For further reading:
Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight In Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller
Sabbath Keeping by Lynne M. Baab
How have you experienced Sabbath rest? Please share your questions or thoughts in the comments.