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Sabbath Series: The Basics


Practice adopted from John Mark Comer


Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch,

the floor of a living room, etc.).

If you’re up for it, and your setting is quiet, spend a few minutes in silence. Why silence?

Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under the non-stop assault of digital distraction.

In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear one another, let alone the voice of

God. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to

and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin with a

moment of quiet.

Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time



Ask a few questions about the Practice:

1. Is the Practice of Sabbath new to you? Was it part of your upbringing? Did you grow

up with any kind of negative understanding about it?

2. How does the idea of practicing Sabbath make you feel? Nervous about Sabbath

being too legalistic? Skeptical about working this into your schedule? Full of anticipation

for rest? Something entirely different?

3. In what ways do you see our culture pushing back against a life of rest?


We live in a cultural moment of restlessness. The unsatisfied desires of our human

condition are exacerbated by the barrage of digital marketing from a

consumption-oriented, consumer-driven economy. We have multi-billion dollar,

multi-national industries hovering over our minds – via our devices – in an attempt to

monetize our restlessness. But rest doesn’t come from buying a product; it comes from

Sabbath. A word that literally means stopping. The Sabbath is an entire day set aside to

stop - stop working, stop wanting, stop worrying, etc.—and to simply rest in God’s


Most followers of Jesus (at least, in the modern, Western world) no longer practice

Sabbath. This means many of us are missing out on one of the most life-giving

practices of the way of Jesus, and arguably, one of the most important for our cultural


Since this Practice is brand new for many of us, the goal of week one is to start with the

basics: just set aside a 24 hour time period to rest and worship; mark a beginning and

end time, each with a ritual of your own design; and spend the day in Sabbath delight. It

sounds easy, but, like all good things, it takes practice. So be patient with yourself, with

this Practice, and with God. Let yourself settle into the “rest for your soul” that Jesus has

on offer.



Here’s the Practice for the coming week:

1. Mark out a 24 hour time period (or as close as you can) to rest and worship

There are three common variations of this Practice:

- The traditional Sabbath: from 20 minutes before sundown Friday night to the same

time Saturday late afternoon. (This works well for people who are especially busy on

Sundays with church activities or other events.)

- The Lord’s Day Sabbath: from the Sunday morning (or sometimes Saturday night)

gathering, through bedtime on Sunday. (This works best for most people, as Sunday is

the calmest day in the city, and we already set aside time to worship as a community.)

- The midweek Sabbath: any day during the week. (This works best for people with odd

or sporadic work schedules and have a midweek day off.)

Decide in advance if you want to begin in the evening—with a dinner or just before

bed—or in the morning. We recommend starting in the evening, but there’s no “right


If at all possible, establish a regular rhythm of Sabbath on the same day each week.

2. Pick a ritual to clearly begin and end your Sabbath

Much of the Sabbath is about rhythms and rituals that set aside the day as “holy.”

Beginning and ending with a marked moment will help you settle into rest, and help you

reenter the week with a restful spirit.

Here are a few ideas of how to begin the sabbath from both ancient tradition and

modern practice:

- Light two candles (symbolic for the two commands in Exodus and Deuteronomy

to “remember” and “observe” the Sabbath). Invite the Spirit of Jesus to come and

give your home light, joy, love, peace, and rest.

- Pour a glass of wine (or grape juice for the kids). Pray a blessing over the drink

and give thanks.

- If you have a family, this is where, traditionally, the father speaks a blessing

over the children and the mother. If you’re with roommates or friends, this can be

a wonderful time to bless each other, with prayers like: May you be happy and full

of joy. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. May

you find rest for your soul. Etc.

- Read a Psalm, sing a song, quote a poem, or pray a liturgy to center on God.

Pray: ask the Holy Spirit bring a spirit of rest over your life and lead and guide

you through the next 24 hours.

- If you begin at night, share a meal with your family or friends.

- If you begin in the morning, go to church and worship.

Here are a few ideas to end your Sabbath:

- Take a slow, leisurely prayer walk around your neighborhood, nearby park, or

nature reserve.

- Read a psalm.

- Share a meal with family and friends.

- Spend some time alone or with your family and friends in prayers of gratitude.

- Traditionally, the Sabbath ends by sitting on the floor, lighting a special

havdalah candle, and sharing 1) the best part of your Sabbath, and 2) what you

are looking forward to in the week ahead, passing around sweet smelling spices

to savor the day, and ending with prayers of gratitude.

3. Spend an entire day in rest and worship.

Fill your day with activities that are life-giving for your soul. Begin to distinguish between

recreation and restoration. Begin to transition from entertainment, TV, social media,

shopping, and going “out,” to activities that deeply connect you to Jesus and his rest.

Traditionally there are twelve activities that mark Sabbath practice:

Lighting the candles

Blessing the children

Eating a meal


Worshipping with your Community



Making love (if you’re married)


Spending time alone with God

Spending time with family and friends


This is not a “to do” list: there are no “to do”s on Sabbath! No oughts or shoulds. This is

just a list of activities many people find restful and restorative.

Adapt your day to your personality, preference, stage of life, and however it is you

connect with God: time in nature, walking your dog to the park, playing frisbee golf with

your kids, getting lost in a good novel, etc. Just take the day to pamper your soul in

God’s presence.


1. Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice?

2. What activities do you find most restful? Connect you to God?

3. What do you think has to change in your life for Sabbath to become a part of your



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