Sabbath. It’s a simple command from our God. Simple, but not always easy.
“‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. (Deuteronomy 5:12-14)
Why can the Sabbath be so hard to keep? I used to think the Sabbath should be easy and no planning should be necessary. However, if your family is anything like mine, then yes — your Sabbath needs to be planned out and vigilantly protected.
The Sabbath day is a day of rest and a day to honor our God.
I believe this can be done in so many ways (besides day-long napping — which, personally, I think sounds fantastic). I also believe it’s important to honor the Sabbath alongside your family.
So here are several practical suggestions on how your family and you can engage with each other on the Sabbath.
Attend church as a family.
Maybe your family and you have a regular routine, but I know that often for my own family and many others this is hard to do with work and travel schedules. But creating a tradition of togetherness in worshiping God can have so many benefits in the lives of your children and you.
Sundays are traditionally the Christian Sabbath day, however, Sunday church can’t always happen for some members of the family. If your Sabbath Day is forced to land on a day other than Sunday, then plan for how you’ll do church on your designated Sabbath together.
Currently, we are in a weird time of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many churches are not meeting in face-to-face groups, so finding church online is not a problem anymore. Maybe your Sabbath church becomes as simple as saving an online sermon and pushing it to your living room television and watching it with the whole family. Maybe it’s a Facebook live sermon. Whatever it is, do it together.
Listen to the Bible.
An out-loud reading of passages in the Bible over breakfast or dinner is a great (and Biblical) way to intake God’s Word. This is how people learned about God in Biblical times, and there is power in the reading of His Word.
Another option is you can pick a Bible study and do it together weekly. There are plenty of family devotionals including Faith Forward Family available online or in bookstores. Don’t feel the rush to finish them quickly. Have one book or study that is saved for Sundays only.
Weather permitting, enjoy nature. Go for a long walk, hike, or bike ride with your family and discuss the creation story as you look at the trees and the grass and all that God created around you. Look at the physical evidence that shows how God is big and good.
Take family meals to the next level.
Breaking bread together has been a long-standing tradition in not just families, but communities throughout history. Make a point to break bread with your family during Sabbath.
Many people will prep their meals in the days ahead of Sabbath Day. I personally have a hard time doing that, but Sabbath meals can still look different than meals throughout the rest of your week even without much prep. Remember this is a day set apart, different than the rest.
If you don’t order out from a restaurant or meal prep ahead of time, try cooking your meals together as a family. Have your children and your spouse join in the cooking fun! Meals don’t have to be elaborate — PB&Js or even popcorn might suffice as a dinner option. Dinner doesn’t have to be elaborate to be meaningful.
It’s also fun (especially for the kiddos) to spice things up, and eat your meals via candlelight … or maybe bonfire or a backyard fire pit if that’s more your jam.
Turn off all devices.
This is hard. I recommend even turning off the TV, but especially phones or smart devices. Disconnect from the outside world so you can connect more deeply with your family and God.
Pray for one another.
This may not need stating, but when I say “pray for one another,” I don’t mean in a flippant “I’ll pray for you” way that is often thrown around our culture and on social media.
I recommend to really pray, and do it together and out loud. This could look a ton of different ways, but one simple way is to sit in a circle with your family, lay hands on one another, and pray scripture over one another.
Try praying scripture over one another — not only does it take the think-work out of what to say, but it brings in the Word of God — powerful and sharper than a double-edged sword — into the conversation with God Himself. Maybe each person says one verse over the person to their right. You can download a free prayer scripture sheet as a reference here.
The beautiful thing about a structured prayer time with your family is that kids of all ages can participate. They can pray a memory verse or share what they feel a family member needs from prayer (and it can be so, so cute!).
Sabbath is going to look different for every family, but doing it together can be so fun, so refreshing, and so God-honoring. Happy Sabbath, my friend.
Much love, Kristin
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