Church Worship

10 Ways to Achieve Proper Rest on the Sabbath

  • Michelle Lazurek
10 Ways to Achieve Proper Rest on the Sabbath

I feel like a hamster running on a wheel—constantly going but never getting anywhere. I needed to take time to recharge, but the daily demands of life beckon me to keep moving. Physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted, I turned in my Bible to have a time of daily devotion (a practice of which I had been sorely lacking). Exodus 20 hit me in the face.

Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.

I’m not the only one who struggles with rest. There it was, a command to rest regularly. So why do I feel so guilty?

Our bodies were created for rest. That’s why “on the seventh day God rested” (Genesis 1). We need physical rest because when our physical beings are tired, so are our emotional and spiritual beings. God commands us to rest so we can handle the day-to-day stressors. We were also created to spend regular time meeting with the Father and investing our time to reap the harvest of a flourishing relationship with Him.

But observing the Sabbath is easier said than done. I often wind up filling my Sabbath with unfinished chores and tasks I couldn’t fit in the other days of the week—hardly what the Savior had in mind.

It’s hard enough to spend time in the Word and pray regularly, let alone practice other disciplines like silence and solitude. Spiritual disciplines help us grow closer to the Lord more than any other practice. In order to hear from God and discern His will for our lives, we must place ourselves in a position to hear from Him. This takes practice and perseverance.

But what if we could incorporate disciplines like silence and solitude into our Sabbath? Doing this might motivate us to rest regularly, as well as give us not only physical rest, but the emotional rest that refreshes our minds as well as our souls.

How do you integrate this practice into your everyday life?

Here are 10 ways to help you get started.

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Start with Worship

Start with Worship

It’s no mistake that we begin a weekly worship service by singing to the Lord. If your Sabbath is Sunday, this is easy to fit in. If your Sabbath is on another day, you may have to create your own makeshift service. Put on Christian worship music and sing.

Whether it be an through an iPod, CD player, computer, or even a tape player, there are many ways to listen to your favorite worship music. Grab the device of your choice and get the music going!

Or better yet, kneel (or sit) in the Lord’s presence. This helps clear you mind from any other stressors that might deter you from engaging in intimacy and helps direct your heart, mind and soul where our attention belongs: to God. Spend time shutting out the world and focusing on the song’s lyrics. 

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Meditate

Meditate

This is not what you think. Meditation is not reserved for some Eastern mystical religion. Many verses tell us to “mediate on the book of the Law…” To meditate simply means to repeat a verse in your head over and over, taking time to focus on its meaning. Eastern meditation requires a person to empty their minds, but that is not what this is at all. Instead, you are filling yourself with the words of the Lord, allowing them to penetrate your heart by changing your mind. This helps your mental and emotional state by removing fears and other negative thoughts clouding you mind, allowing God’s love to comfort, encourage and challenge you. 

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Choose a Good Atmosphere

Choose a Good Atmosphere

Some people are indoor people, and some are not. Whatever way you like to spend time in silence, find a quiet area to do so. Whether it is an extra room in your home, a park or stream, let yourself get away from it all. Avoid all distractions. Listen to the sound of a babbling brook, and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation around you. If you don’t have the luxury of getting away due to children or other work related duties, create an oasis in your home. This can even be in the bathtub of your bathroom. Light candles, set up your music and relax. Invest in a white noise or other sound machine so you can simply focus on the sounds, and not on life’s demands. 

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Talk to God

Talk to God

This may sound like the easiest part, but it may not be for everyone. Perhaps you have not communed with God for a long time. Start with confession. Confess everything you feel is posing a barrier between you and God. A clean heart is always the best way to start your time together with God. This will rid you of any anxiety you may have when it comes to spending time with Him.

Once you feel you have confessed it all, ask the Holy Spirit to direct you and reveal  any areas that you may have missed. Once that is complete, talk to God like a friend. The easiest way to achieve intimacy is to pretend that He is there next to you. Talk to Him about everything that is going on inside your heart. You will instantly feel like you are getting closer to Him.

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Journaling

Journaling

If talking out loud seems strange, consider writing it down in a journal. If I’m honest, journaling is my least favorite discipline. But it allows freedom from our minds to our pens as we write down what is really going on in our hearts. If you are afraid someone will read it, throw it away once you are done. It will give you the peace of mind without sacrificing your privacy.

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Silence

Silence

Now take a moment to listen. No friendship is one-sided. Both parties have to take turns talking and listening. Allow God to speak to you. Maybe He will convict your heart of something that is impeding your relationship with God. Perhaps He will speak to your heart about a situation you have wanted an answer to for some time. Maybe He will pour out His spirit upon you, giving you a vision or revelation.

I have only heard the audible voice of God once, but it was an amazing experience. Other times I sense deep in my soul that the Lord is speaking to me. The more you listen for God and obey what you hear (even if it seems odd at the time), the more God will entrust you with what He has to say to you. This is how you get in tune with God. Like the dial on a radio, it needs to be adjusted to find the right station. Left alone, all it picks up is noise.

Please note: maybe He will speak about nothing. This is ok! Don’t be concerned if you don’t get anything out your time together. Simply communing with God is enough. These disciplines are just that: disciplines. The more you practice them, the better you become at them.

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Take Time Off

Take Time Off

Take some “me time”—take a bath, read a book, or do something that takes your focus off of stress and onto relaxation. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to unplug and disconnect from the world around you; however, if you do have the means, indulge in an activity that helps you recharge. Take a hike, do some shopping, or visit a spa. If expenses are an issue, create your own in-home spa. Buy inexpensive nail polish and face masks and treat yourself to a day of beauty. 

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Observe Media Fasting

Observe Media Fasting

Even the hardest workers need at least one day off. Commit to unplugging for a full twenty-four hours one day a week. That means no checking your phone or email. You can also take it one step further and not turn on the TV or radio, either. This will make more time for reading, doing outdoor activities or enjoying a neglected hobby. 

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Take a Vacation

Take a Vacation

Extended time away from work helps our bodies restore Cortisol, the chemical our bodies give off to help deal with stress efficiently. When Cortisol is depleted, so is our reaction to stress. Visit relatives, book a cabin or spend the week on the beach.

God knows your heart. He knows when you are simply doing something because you have to, or because you want to. If you want to spend time with God, He will honor that. The more you try to connect, the more He will honor you by connecting with you.

The world wants us to constantly be productive. God commands us to rest. He promised, “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Don’t feel guilty about taking care of the body God has entrusted to you today so you can handle the difficulties life throws your way tomorrow.

Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year and the Enduring Light Silver Medal, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her first book with Leafwood Publishers, An Invitation to the Table, came out September 2016. She also teaches at various writers' workshops, such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She and her husband live in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with their two children, Caleb and Leah. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.

Photo credit: Pexels
 





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