Spiritual Practice: Sabbath Rest



On Mondays, when I’m in the middle of my work day, I get a calendar reminder on my phone that says, “Tomorrow is your Sabbath.” The notification gives me great joy and peace knowing tomorrow I can rest.

The word Sabbath means different things to different people. To my Jewish friends it comes from the creation story where God created the world in six days and on the seventh day rested. He commands his followers to do the same, and when I lived in Israel, the Sabbath was definitely something to look forward to! It was celebrated from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday, so we spent Friday shopping and chopping, preparing a fantastic dinner to share with friends. Good food, good friends, good wine, joy and rest. Everything was closed Saturday so there was nowhere to go, nothing to do but relax. It is a beautiful practice.

Americans, however, even the Christians who still celebrate a form of the Sabbath on Sundays, have largely missed the point of Sabbath Rest. They rush off to church, dragging their screaming children, because they are usually late, and sit through a service that may or may not renew their souls. The rest of the day might be full of errands or house cleaning or yard work. It isn’t very restful. Plus, everything is open for business, so there is shopping to be done! I don’t know about you but I generally clean the house, do the laundry and  buy my groceries on Sundays.

I had the good fortune of working for a ministry that taught me the importance of taking a Sabbath day to rest to restore my soul. For most people in ministry, the weekend is not a good time for Sabbath rest as it is full of ministry opportunities. That is why my Sabbath falls on a Tuesday. I plan my work schedule around my Sabbath.

I see Sabbath as a day to reconnect with myself and with God — a day to do things that are good for my soul. My Sabbath day might go like this: I don’t set the alarm and wake up with I’m done sleeping. I enjoy some time to read and pray, or as on an extra special morning, get a massage! Then I generally go to the library and sit in the corner quiet area. This is where I write. I love to write and writing restores my soul in a very real way. You might have a different favorite activity like hiking or reading or going to a movie or scheduling lunch with a friend or taking a nap. At lunch I may treat myself to food I don’t normally eat, like a Taco Bell burrito and a diet coke. In the evening I enjoy my Yoga class. It’s a day of spaciousness and settling and reminding myself what is truly important.

If you’re a young parent, having a Sabbath might seem impossible. But, I’ve known couples who have done Sabbaths together, or taken half-day Sabbath’s so they can trade the children off with each other. I’ve known single parents who have traded kids with friends for a few hours so they can have mini Sabbaths. When you have small ones, two or three hours for yourself is an incredible luxury.

And don’t think it’s going to happen naturally once you’re retired. I’ve noticed that as soon as someone retires other people tend to make demands on their time, which is fine, if that gives you joy. But, if you want to have a Sabbath, no matter what your life situation is, you’re going to have to make boundaries around that day, or that period of time, and defend them against the myriad offers to do other good things. With Sabbath, like with most things, you are not choosing between good and bad things, but good and better things. No one will value your time for you, you have to fight for it yourself.


So, give it a try. First, brainstorm these questions:

What would I do if I had an entire day to myself?

What most makes my soul feel light, happy, and renewed?

How can I consciously connect with God, myself, and my body?


Then, decide when and how to make it happen. Let me know if you try it and how it goes. Enjoy this day of rest.


3 thoughts on “Spiritual Practice: Sabbath Rest

  1. I know exactly what you are saying. I am glad the idea of taking one day a week to recuperate from life’s demands and business exists. I sometimes wonder what I can and cannot do. Since we share similar views about the Sabbath, and you mention you write on the Sabbath, and I also enjoy writing, let me share this. If I write something on the Sabbath and want to publish it, is it worth money since it was written on a day of rest? It is almost if I should self-examine my intent for the writing – is it to sell or for self-inspiration/self-growth?


    1. Great question Amy, and maybe one we each have to answer for ourselves. For me, writing fills my soul with joy and light. I feel that anything done with intention toward God is prayer. So, for me, writing is a form of prayer. That is about the process of writing. The process of publishing is completely different to me. It is more like work. But, I have no problem trying to publish the things I wrote on my Sabbath as they were for me, a gift from God that I want to share, and I don’t know how to go about sharing them without publishing them. Unfortunately, my writing has not brought in much money as of yet, I hope someday it will. But, even then I would not feel that is was wrong to publish what I write. It is how I share my gift with the world. Let me know what you come to in your own process. It’s nice to think these things through with another writer. Jacci


  2. Jacci, I really don’t mean to offend but I think you’re understanding of Sabbath is misguided. Sabbath isn’t about us, its about Him. Ex 20:10, “But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.” Not, “But the seventh day is a sabbath to Jacci Turner.” Or Matthew 12:8, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Sabbath is about intentionally giving God some of your time each week. Yes, rest is good and taking time to recharge is both physically healthy and spiritually wise but don’t use the Sabbath as your excuse to do so.

    Thanks for sharing Jared. I respect your opinion. I personally see every day as the Lord’s and the Sabbath as a chance to reconnect and restore in a deeper way.


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