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Creating a Life-Giving Personal Sabbath Practice

Before you begin any faith practice, it’s helpful to take stock of how that practice does or does not show up in your life already. Find a quiet spot to spend some time asking yourself some or all of the following questions. Invite God to speak to your heart. 

How am I doing?;

  • How are my mind, body, and spirit feeling these days? 
  • On most days, where am I on a scale of 1 (totally burned out) to 10 (at peace)?
  • What do I most need for true restoration? (If your soul is weary, maybe you need more time to talk to and listen to God. If your daily work is active, maybe you need more time to rest physically. If your daily work is sedentary, maybe you need to get outside and move around a bit.)

What am I doing?

  • Do I already have regular periods of sabbath rest that refresh me deeply?
  • What does a typical Sunday look like for me? (List things you always or often do on Sundays.) 
  • How many of those things are life-giving for me? How many are draining?

What might I do to make my sabbath practice more life-giving?

  • Is it realistic, given my job and responsibilities, for Sunday to be my sabbath day? (Pastors and church ministry leaders, the answer is probably “no” for you.) What other day or time period might work for me to practice sabbath?
  • What do I want to exclude from my sabbath practice? What things drain me and leave me feeling lifeless? What things pull me away from God? What things or activities cater to parts of me that I haven’t fully given to God?
  • What do I want to include in my sabbath practice? What things point me to God? What brings me deep joy? What helps me flourish as a child of God? What might help my neighbor flourish? 
  • Try using this prayer from the New Zealand prayer book to start your sabbaths: “What has been done has been done. What has not been done has not been done; let it be.”
  • How could my personal sabbath practices also be life-giving for my neighbors (family, friends, strangers)?

Ideas for Celebrating Sabbath on Your Own

There are endless ways to practice sabbath. Here are just a few creative thoughts, drawn from the blogs posts 50 Things to Do on a Sabbath and 50 More Things to Do on a Sabbath by Craig Noble.

  • Take a look at this creative and meaningful Sabbath ritual for people of all ages from Theresa Cho's blog Still Waters.
  • Take a walk and feel the largest muscles in your legs working. Thank God you are not just dry bones. Thank God for the gift of life.
  • Get on someone else’s level. Literally. Find someone really short, the sort of short you haven’t been since you were under ten years old, and get your head down to their height. Stay there for a while to see what the world looks like from a child’s perspective. While you are there, ponder what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Go somewhere you’ve never been before. It doesn’t have to be far from where you are now. Look around. See what you can see that would please God. Choose something in what you have observed that you could incorporate into your life in the places you spend time most days. Decide how you will incorporate it over the coming week.