Thoughts On Having A Consistent Sabbath Rest…
I have been working on a mini-Sabbath with God early in a particular morning–not to cause Him to love me more but to help me to love HIM more! Sometimes it is as long as 2 hours (because I might doze off a bit when I am being quiet and/or praying!) and other times it is 15 minutes. But I try never to rush through it and never to robotically just crank out the different steps of this simple little dance with the LORD. You’ll figure out what works for you and Him over time, but the biggest key is to literally and consciously act as if God is in the room physically; that helps me to not act “religious” but rather to treat Him like a Person, not an idea.
So here’s how I typically spend this time (though I am giving myself the flexibility to not follow a super-strict, rigid schedule; the Sabbath was made for us, not vice versa):
- I start by kneeling and thanking God for blessings/talking to Him about what I am excited about currently in my life (I try not to ask Him for anything during this time). Sometimes I have a lot to say, sometimes not as much. If I don’t have much to say, then I just say, “God, I don’t have many words right now, but I just want to silently think thoughts about You. Please help me to do that.” Then I have to constantly refocus my mind back on God because it tends to wander. But over time I am starting to get better at being able to concentrate silently on God for longer stretches of time.
- Then I sit and read one day from my Bible In A Year book. This usually takes about 20 minutes, but I also give myself the freedom to stop reading and just think/pray about a verse when it jumps off the page and just grabs me (convicts me of sin, gets me pumped to share with others, etc.). This happens all the time! I believe much of the time Scripture is meant to be sipped. I might sit and think about this verse for 1 or 5 or 10 minutes and then keep reading or just stop right there, moving into the next part of the of my mini-Sabbath (see part c.).
- Then I kneel again and pray to God, asking for things for myself and others (please heal so and so, please help me be more patient, etc.) and apologizing for any sins that have come to mind during my time with God. I will usually pray for myself, Sarah, the kids, the local church where I serve, the city where I live, and persecuted Christians around the world.
Then I go off to start my day at work, asking God to help me continue to think about/talk to Him throughout my day regardless of what I am doing.
But I do think the biggest part of all this is setting aside a specific time each week to simply be with God; make it an appointment/meeting in your calendar and then stick with it.
In the Future
Eventually my goal is to have a day when I don’t do much related to planning, chores, work, email, t.v., music, driving, phone calls, etc. but simply move through the day calmly at a VERY slow pace, sitting often, talking with the kids and my wife serenely (simply focusing on each person and listening to them, really thinking about what THEY say and responding simply and thoughtfully to their ideas) and quietly bringing related thoughts of God into everything I see (nature, rooms of the house, memories of photos and pieces of furniture, etc.).
You are going to “fail” miserably at this at first. And by fail I mean fall short of whatever expectations/idealizations you have in your mind about how it’s going to be/should be…
So here are some quick suggestions:
- Start slow/small. Try for a 15 minute Sabbath and then gradually increase from there each week.
- Try to move around a little bit during your Sabbath (e.g. take a walk while talking with God in your head). This will prevent you from falling asleep.
- But it’s ok if you do fall asleep! Ask God to help you dream about Him. But if you do sleep, it’s because you need it. So then start working on getting to sleep at a regular time each night (say between 10pm and 11pm at the latest).
- Try not to talk out loud during your Sabbath; focus on talking with your mind.
- Ask God for help throughout the Sabbath; help to focus on Him, rest in Him, notice Him, etc.
- Try not to use internet, phones, or any other technology!
- Try not to interact too much with people either. This is a date with you and God.
- Try not to use Christian self-help books! (Sit at Jesus’ feet, not a Christian author’s—so don’t bring this document with you either! 🙂 )
- Read bite-sized verses of the Bible. Pick a verse that you like and just chew on it during your Sabbath. Less is more on Sabbaths.
- Consider calling a Jewish synagogue/temple and ask to speak to the rabbi about some ideas for having a Biblical Sabbath.
- If you start thinking about things you have to do, work, chores, etc., just write it down quickly and put aside the notepad/Word doc. You can check it later. Get the idea/thought out of your mind and back on to God. 🙂
Hope that is helpful, my friends—please share with me how you have Sabbaths with the LORD!!!