Creating a Sabbath Routine
We all know the feeling. You wake up to your alarm clock blaring loudly beside you, roll over, and wish more than anything else for the day to be over. You want to fast forward to the end of the day where you can climb back into bed again. It is a feeling of being so exhausted before a day even begins that you wonder what is the point in starting it.
One of the hardest things plaguing society today is the incessant need to always be busy. When people ask us how we are doing or what is new with us, instead of replying fine or giving them a brief life update, many of us say, “We’re just so busy. Good but busy. Fine but just swamped at work.”
When did being busy become a badge of honor? And when we actually aren’t that busy, why do we feel so compelled to let everyone know that we are?
Many of us have heard about the concept of Sabbath in the Christian faith. This article isn’t about telling you legalistic rules or condemning you for not Sabbathing. I am not here to argue about the validity of Sabbath after the New Testament and Jesus. I am here to encourage you about Sabbath and to point out some reasons why you may need one more than you think.
Sabbath is a beautiful tradition which began with the Israelites as a way to emulate the work of God in creation. In Genesis 1 we read that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh He rested. Practicing Sabbath is included in the Ten Commandments, which tells us it is pretty important.
"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 and to the Lord your God. On it you shall do no work, you or your son, or your daughter, your male or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 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."-Exodus 20:8-11 ESV
It wasn’t a suggestion or a request to follow the practice only if you can squeeze it in with whatever else is going on. It was a commandment. Did you know that out of all the Ten Commandments the only one to be called into question is this commandment? Keeping the Sabbath Holy is the one commandment that Christians around the world debate. Not do not murder or lie or covet, we know all these things are bad, of course. But some Christians believe that because of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 9:14-17, that many Old Testament customs can be disregarded, and keeping the Sabbath holy is usually the first to go.
Did you also know that the Sabbath commandment is the longest commandment? Because God needed to explain it to His people. He knew, even among the Israelites who were constructing shelter and surviving in the wilderness and hadn’t yet felt the pressures of a 9 to 5 job and social life, people would rebel against this. The other commandments were straight forward: honor your father and mother, and don’t steal. Nothing needed to be added for clarity. But God tells us to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy in great detail.
Before a couple of weeks ago, I had never kept the Sabbath in any type of regularity. I feel like you should know that I am just a beginner at this too. Growing up, the Sabbath looked a lot like watching football, catching up on homework, and going to youth group. In college, Sunday was the day to get work done, to study for tests, and to catch up on the homework I had neglected since Friday night.
After college I treated the Sabbath like a good idea that I never quite let blossom into fruition. There were, of course, certain things I wouldn’t do on the Sabbath. Like laundry, cleaning, or cooking. Those were the things that my mother refused to do on the Sabbath growing up, so I figured those were good rules to follow.
Though those are good things to not do on the Sabbath I realized that I was missing out from a great gift God was giving me. I was listening to a podcast by Annie F Downs featuring John Mark Comer on Sabbath and suddenly had my perspective shifted. The way that John Mark talked about Sabbath sounded a lot different than the idea of Sabbath that had been ingrained in me by the church from a young age.
He talked about how Sabbath can be any day of rest during the week. It doesn’t have to be a Sunday. He talked about how Sabbath wasn’t just a time to be stagnant and do nothing, but time to do activities that caused us to worship God and that caused our souls to come alive.
That, coupled with the fact that I am a sucker for an excuse not to cook, I decided to give this whole Sabbath thing a try. I don’t do it perfectly, and I am still learning every day, but I have noticed that honoring the Sabbath dramatically improves my week. I have busy weeks full of work, friends, serving at my church, and errands. I keep up with a lot of friends from my college, which means taking portions of my week to be on the phone.
As I started to recognize the things that pulled me closer to God and the things that didn’t, I was able to format what a Sabbath could look like for me. I am going to give you an example of some of the things I do and don’t do, not to trap you or make you compare, but to give you a starting place.
Things I Don’t Do:
Cook. I dislike cooking on the best day, so you best believe I am eating cereal or going out to brunch on the Sabbath.
Work out. Like I said earlier, I make it a priority to workout several times a week. However, that means that the times during the week that I work out, I don’t have time to do other things I want to. Also, who wants to work out after church? Not me.
Talk on the phone. This is the one task I try not to do but often fail at. Though I get life from talking to friends, I often find myself having days where I don’t let myself have a break because I have someone I promised to talk to. You may not be able to relate to this with talking to friends, but there may be something in your life that you love, but just really sucks your energy after a long day, try to avoid that on the Sabbath. Now, if I have a friend or family member that I just can’t talk to any other day, of course, I talk to them on the Sabbath. But if I can avoid it and give myself time to recharge on Sabbath, I do. I am a much better friend because of it.
Check social media. Anyone else get stuck in an endless cycle of scrolling for no reason? Me too. That is why I delete my apps and stick to no social media on the Sabbath.
Things I Do:
Brunch after church with friends. I love having time that is uninterrupted and not on a time crunch with friends after church. Plus one of my simple joys in life is breakfast food and cute drinks in mason jars.
Read. I love reading. Though I often listen to books, nothing can replace the art of physically holding and reading a book. This is something that is just hard to do when running around like a crazy person week after week. I like to take time on my Sabbath to just read and be still. And it doesn’t just have to be non-fiction or a Christian self-help book, I read plenty of fiction too.
Take a bath. Ever since the invention of bath bombs I have been on team bath. I love being able to take time and end my Sunday night in a nice, herbal scented bath.
Prayer Walks. I love being able to walk around a park or my neighborhood and just take in nature. Praying to God as thoughts come into my head or just staying silent if the words don’t come.
Devotional time. Though I try to have a quiet time every day, sometimes it can become pretty rushed. My quiet time during the week might mean rushed prayers before bed, or reading the Bible without allowing myself time for my mind to digest it. On Sunday, I allow myself to have a longer devotional time. To really stop, be still, and try to listen to God. To read the word and try to apply it to my life. To journal and not have to look at the clock. Whatever your quiet time looks like, and there's no wrong way, let the Sabbath be a time where you can be unrushed in the presence of God.
In the business of this world the thought of making a whole day of the week a Sabbath day might seem like a huge challenge. But try Sabbathing for a couple of hours each week and then slowly expand it over time. If you are someone that is feeling burnt out and overwhelmed, a Sabbath might be the practice your weary soul desperately needs.
I would love to hear about ways you practice Sabbath in the comments below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel resides in Lancaster, Pa where she is a Digital Marketing Specialist. A recent graduate from Grove City College, Rachel hopes that her articles can help girls through hard times in college and also as they transition into the real world. In her spare time, you can find Rachel reading, hanging with her small group, exploring cute cafes, and longing for the ocean. You can find more of her writing at christiangirlcode.org