Practicing Sabbath

This blog is for any and every believer, whether you care about Sabbath already or have never heard of it before. As I’ve learned more about Sabbath the past few years, I have learned so much about God and His plans for our lives. That His goodness is bigger and better than we can fathom. And yes, He has big plans and expectations for us, but not without everlasting grace and mercy as our source.

Basically, Sabbath is one of the commands God gave to the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt. It is a day of rest every week where work is not allowed and the people spend time with God and their community. It’s based on God’s day of rest after 6 days of creating the universe. The Jews were still practicing it when Jesus entered the picture, but it had been heavily distorted by the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders to be full of rules and restrictions. But Jesus redefined and re-established the Sabbath day by showing how God intended it to be. And while we as Christians don’t live under the Old Testament laws, I believe the Sabbath is still relevant and essential for our spiritual health. So here is a collection of my thoughts, convictions and challenges related to the practice of Sabbath that I hope God speaks to you through. It’s not my exhaustive thoughts, but I pray that they get you and God talking about what this could look like and how it might change your relationship with Him, others, and yourself.

  • Sabbath is a gift, not a burden. It’s meant to serve us and not be draining or confining
  • Sabbath reminds us that God knows what’s best for us, and we usually don’t
  • It will look different for every person and family. And it will change for each person and family in every season of life; comparison won’t usually be helpful in this instance
  • Rest is productive. Especially rest from and with God. It produces peace, connection, endurance, self-awareness, humility, gratitude and health.
  • Sabbath takes planning; it won’t happen naturally/accidentally. Your Sabbath is not “less than” because it takes more planning and accountability. 
  • Always ask God what your Sabbath should look like each week- you may not be able to predict what will be restorative and worshipful but He can
  • Don’t forget to worship- it realigns our priorities and resets our life with God as the focus, the way it’s meant to be. Sabbath is really about God, not you.
  • Sabbath is not simply a “self care day” where you take a nice bath and do your full skincare routine. It is about true rest on every level of your being- body, soul & spirit. 
  • Sabbath is a sacrifice, an offering of your time unto God. It’s probably never going to be “convenient” or easy. But that’s the point. Similar to tithing, the practice of sabbath reminds us that our lives are God’s and that all the time we have is a gift from God who deserves our dedication to Him, including our time. 
  • Sabbath is a command and an invitation; treat it as such.
  • Yes, Sabbath was part of the old covenant and law, which we aren’t bound to because Jesus fulfilled it. But Jesus also practiced the Sabbath and never abolished it. As His disciple, I try to do what He did, which includes a weekly Sabbath.
  • Consistency can be helpful for Sabbath. Try to have your Sabbath on the same day each week as often as possible because you’ll get the most out of it when it’s a part of your schedule. Don’t ignore it over breaks and trips, sometimes we need it most during those times.
  • Use this advice I’ve heard when deciding what is restful: “If you work with your mind, rest with your body. If you work with your body, rest with your mind.” So if you “work” by doing school work, then “rest” by going on a walk or playing your favorite sport with friends.
  • Simply saying yes to the practice of Sabbath is saying yes to God and no to the enemy’s pull towards busyness and chaos. Therefore, the enemy will try and make Sabbath difficult, but keep pressing in!
  • We don’t have to earn a sabbath by overworking ourselves to justify rest.
  • Practicing Sabbath is not an excuse to not rest or take care of ourselves the other six days of the week. Sabbath is for soul-deep rest, not desperate recovery from a chaotic lifestyle.
  • If choosing to Sabbath and truly rest is difficult for you, that doesn’t mean it’s “not for you.” It just means there are things God wants to help you work through so you can accept and enjoy rest. Doing this work will make Sabbath much more effective and enjoyable for you, but it takes time.
  • Sabbath is proof of God’s patience. If God wanted for us to do more faster, to advance His kingdom quicker, He wouldn’t ask us to take a day off work every week. But God’s not worried about the timing, He knows that this way is better for us
  • Don’t get caught up in trying to do the Sabbath “perfectly” because that’s beside the point. It’s called a “practice” for a reason. And I think part of what the Sabbath offers us rest from is striving and perfectionism because it’s about simply existing with God.
  • Sabbath isn’t escaping from your life and the world for a day to ignore the issues and just relax. It’s a day of refocusing our lives around God and putting our struggles and situations in God’s perspective by choosing rest, peace, worship and connection.

Here are some verses & passages I recommend reading to learn about the Sabbath:
  • Exodus 16: 11-30  See what happens when the Israelites try to gather food (work) on the sabbath- it’s unfruitful. God prepares them for the sabbath the day before
  • Exodus 23:3  Sabbath is a command from God that is still relevant to us
  • Psalm 23  What resting in God is like, and how it prepares us for holding on to God in times of trouble
  • Isaiah 58: 13-14
  • Matthew 11: 28-30 (Passion Translation hits different)  God wants us to run to him when we are weary and to depend on him
  • Matthew 20: 1-15  Work isn’t about earning or competing against others, so we can enjoy rest because rest is not “weak” or causing us to fall behind
  • Mark 2: 23-28  Don’t get weighed down by burdensome Sabbath rules; God is a god of mercy more than rules
  • Luke 10: 38-42  We don’t have to worry about preparations and getting things right when we have Jesus with us, when he’s our treasure
  • Hebrews 4: 9-11 (Passion Translation)

Author | Caroline Barnes





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