Practical Disciples: Sabbath
About Today’s Practice
The Sabbath is sewn together throughout the entire Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, resting is an essential element within the order that God created on earth. To this day in Israel, at sundown on Friday night and all special holidays, there’s a siren that blows, and Sabbath begins. Any practicing Jew is forbidden from driving, using electronics, and even heating food to prepare to eat. All businesses that are kosher are not allowed to operate on Shabbat. Everything shuts down and it is truly a sabbath day, one day every week, for those who practice it. Before we begin, we must ask ourselves an important question: “Do I believe that rest is a necessary element to spiritual growth?” God established the Sabbath intentionally because He knew that our bodies were not without limits. Therefore, if God believed it was important, so should we.
Before we get going, you’ll need these things.
- A Pillow…Kind of but not really kidding.
Let’s read Exodus 20:8-11
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Before we dive into the practice we have to dispel the myth that because Jesus “fulfilled” the Sabbath means we don’t have to observe it any longer. That is a lie. Jesus did not abolish the Sabbath. Jesus saved the Sabbath from being legalized into oblivion. The Jewish leaders of His day put so many man-made rules on the Sabbath that it wasn’t enjoyable. This is why Jesus says in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” God created the Sabbath so that we could rest and rejuvenate, yes, BUT ALSO so that we could enjoy God’s creation. So that we could do things that filled up our tanks. And most importantly, so we wouldn’t burn out. But Sabbath takes our trust in God. Trusting that if we don’t work one day a week that He will still provide for us. So do you trust God?
THE SCIENCE OF REST
Resting and sleeping isn’t “doing nothing.” There’s a reason we say, “Make sure to rest” when you’re sick or hurt. Resting catalyzes the healing process. And when we don’t rest, according to Dr. Mark Wu of Johns Hopkins, “immunity is compromised, increasing the likelihood of illness and infection.” Sleeping, especially, helps to repair and restore hormones as well as other bodily functions. We need rest both in both the spiritual and the physical.
What’s even better? If you love to nap as much as I do, there is solid research that napping can improve memory and learning. Sarah Mednick’s research found,”…that in a 90-minute nap, you can get the same [learning] benefits as an eight-hour sleep period” (1). She also found that, “an afternoon nap was about equal to a dose of caffeine for improving perceptual learning” and that it can enhance alertness, attention, and memory consolidation. (See an additional article on naps here)
It’s no wonder God established a full day of rest. Not only do we need good sleep each night, we need time for our bodies to heal themselves, which means taking a full day off once a week. This allows your body and mind to heal and not burn out, it causes you to spend time with your loved ones, and helps you appreciate God that much more.
Take a minute or two to pray. If you have not rested in a while, I encourage you to ask for forgiveness for not observing a Sabbath and for not trusting that God would provide. Secondly, ask the Lord how you should take your Sabbath this week.
Now take a minute or two and write down the answers from your prayers in your journal.
Read First: Even though I am all about Sabbath, I understand that some people are not able to practically able to do so. I understand that schedules don’t always allow it. I will say, however, that you should use your religious liberty to observe the Sabbath if you’re able to. Maybe you can’t take a full 24 hours but you can take a solid hour or even just 7 minutes to really rest. The important part of the Sabbath is spending time with the Lord and your family and shutting out the busyness of the outside world. But how do we practically take a Sabbath? Well, I’m not here to make more rules, but these are some of my suggestions:
-Turn your phone or electronics off for 24 hours. (Or, if you don’t have the time, turn everything off for just 7 minutes. Take 7 minutes with everything shut off to just breathe and be present with Jesus without any distractions.)
-Go for a hike and enjoy nature.
-Read a book you’ve been meaning to read.
-Lay in bed or on the couch all day.
-Spend time praying and meditating on scripture (We have a page for that here).
-Call someone you miss and have a real conversation with them.
-Watch some of your favorite movies.
The end goal of the Sabbath is to rejuvenate and fill your tank. Putting a hard stop to social media one day a week can go a long way! Enjoying nature and filling up your lungs with fresh air can go a long way for your week! So whatever your do on your sabbath, make sure that you are resting, rejuvenating, and filling up your tank.