I promised you last week that I would share my Sabbath practice. This is not prescriptive so don’t try to copy it item for item. At the end, I do note a few areas that I would like to improve. May my description help you see the value of a Sabbath and help you see that it is doable with just a few tweaks in your schedule.
Don’t start your own Sabbath without praying for guidance and direction. Let the Holy Spirit push you toward the right schedule and posture for your time of praying and playing.
Here is how I practice Sabbath:
Around 5 or 6 in the evening on Saturday I stop my chores and to-do list and usually take a relaxing shower and begin to wind down from my projects and work.
Then, I let myself rest by doing something I enjoy such as watching sports or one of our favorite shows.
When morning comes, I sleep later than usual and then I go for my longest run of the week. Though this is tiring and challenging at times I can’t tell you how stripped of worry and tension I feel after my runs. I feel connected to the natural world and in tune to a certain rhythm with God as I use the first 20 minutes of the run praying and listening to him.
After taking advantage of some margin to enjoy my breakfast and reading what amounts to a 21st century version of the Sunday newspaper, I get cleaned up and ready for church.
Most mornings I listen to podcasts or devotionals as I prepare for the day but on Sundays I try to listen to music that feels like Sunday morning – quiet, reflective, often acoustic, and grounded. (Here is my Sabbath playlist)
I attend worship at my church where we practice communion each week.
After lunch and maybe a quick game of Mario Cart with the kids, I settle in for a Sunday nap, some reading, or a sporting event on TV.
Around this time, the creep of laundry, dishes, checking email, and preparing for the week starts to make me feel guilty and lazy. Facing this feeling head on and sticking to the rest of Sabbath for just a few more hours is part of the discipline. We are supposed to feel like we are not doing enough and be tempted to shame ourselves for our ineffectiveness. If we didn’t have these temptations then we wouldn’t learn to trust God. The world is still spinning, the laundry will still be there, I have already set aside time later in the day for checking email, I can let these things wait their turn as I continue praying and playing.
At about the 24 hour mark, the Sabbath ends and I move into prepping for the week mode and begin becoming more industrious.
There are pieces of this experience that I would like to improve. I want to get my family more involved with Sabbath keeping and let them practice with me in their own way but with an intentionality towards praying and playing. I would also like to include less technology or at least less social media and phone use but I haven’t been as disciplined in that area.
If none of this sounds very Holy maybe that is part of the point God is trying to make with his command to keep the Sabbath. We keep it Holy by our worship and devotion to him but we also keep it Holy by doing rather ordinary things in ordinary slow ways. Let God handle the extraordinary and we become grounded in the ordinary where God has the freedom to show up, bless us in our rest and play, and fill us with gratitude and thankfulness. I savor my Sabbaths and thank God for this reminder to rest, pray, worship, play, and listen to Him.