10 ways to enjoy a truly beautiful Shabbat…
Our family has been practicing Shabbat (Same thing as a sabbath) for a couple of years now and it has been life changing. It is the event we look forward to all week and the cause of our strength for the week ahead.
So, what is a Shabbat? Shabbat or sabbath is a day in your weekly rhythm to stop your normal work life or your usual schedule to recentre on God.
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For us it all started at the same time as COVID-19 lock down no.1. We felt God calling us to a slower pace of life and to specifically setting aside 24 hours a week where we rested hard! Shabbat was originally supposed to be set aside for stopping, resting, and worshipping. Here are some ideas that work well for our family…
- We go traditional and start Shabbat every Friday evening with a big family meal. I usually do a big roast dinner and make sure we have something tasty and sweet for pudding! It feels like a celebration and we all really love this moment to take a breath! I don’t think there is anything legalistic about starting on a Friday evening so just plan it in for whenever works best for your family, but I do recommend starting in the evening with a family meal and shabbating for the full 24 hours if at all possible.
- We pray together. We often start with a small amount of silence or a round of things we are thankful for or just a reminder that we are here because God loves us and cares for our souls. We encourage the kids to pray or ask questions or tell us what’s on their hearts.
- We light candles. Candles feature heavily on our shabbats as reminders to focus our minds on God. Not only do we have candle lit meals, we also often take candles into the sitting room to read or play games by candlelight.
- We do not shop. We live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, so it is easy for us to avoid shops, but this extends to online shopping too. There have been times when I have felt desperate to buy something “while it is on my mind” but I hear that small still voice reminding me it can wait and if it is something I truly need it will reappear in my mind tomorrow.
- We try not to drive far. This is not a hard and fast rule as sometimes we may venture by car to explore a new walk or beautiful location as this can be an act of worship and a great way to let the kids run off some energy. However, mostly we stick close to home.
- We turn off our phones. That’s right, we go 24 hours with no mobile phones, and we do not explode! This has been a battle, but it is always so life giving when we manage to go the whole 24 hours without turning those devices back on. Our close friends and family know that if it’s an emergency and they need us, we have a house phone number they can use, otherwise we are unavailable.
- We pleasure stack. Pleasure stacking is when you save a bunch of favourite things to do all together over a particular day or maybe on holiday. On our Shabbat we eat loads of yummy food; roast dinner, pancakes, homemade bread and soup, chocolate brownies… we really enjoy the comfort of food for the day. We also enjoy great books in front of a fire. We love watching a good film or programme together. We love walking together as a family and we go slow to really enjoy all that God has to offer us in nature that day. I have even been known to nap (I never normally would) on a sabbath. Basically, we aim to have some fun on our Shabbat!
- We don’t work. My husband has a fairly demanding job, so I am really keen to protect him from overworking. Also, I am a home-school mummy of four crazy kids, so I also need a slower day without attempting any formal education or field trips or much organisation at all!
- My husband and I both see Friday as our preparation day. This one is key. I get the housework done, help the kids finish all school assignments for the week, shop and at least mentally prepare food for the weekend so that when we stop at dinner time on Friday, we are ready to rest. For my husband this often means pushing towards a place where he knows he can leave things at work for a couple of days. Trying to Shabbat when there is a big deadline hanging over your head and lots of unfinished work is not particularly restful.
- Lastly, we aim to bring things before God more often than usual, throughout the day. This is so much easier to do when life is slower. We take our time with eating, with getting up, with walking… all so that we can be more intentional about talking to God and hearing from Him. I am really keen to always remember that I am a daughter of God before I am a wife and mother and this is a great way to practice this.
If you would like to read more on how and why to Sabbath as well as learning how to slow life down in other ways, you should read “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer. This book has been massively influential for our family as we have been learning how to slow down and rest well.
Mark 2 v 27 says “Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.” I have talked about some of the things that make Shabbat so life giving for our family, but Shabbat will most likely look different in your family. Imagine a day that will meet the needs your family has and aim to have that day! I often encourage other families to give it a try because it honestly is such a beautiful habit to form. Give it a try and let me know what works best for your Shabbat.
I loved Comer’s book! And your suggestions are wonderful. I’d never heard of pleasure stacking before but I love this idea!
Hi Sarah, thanks for your kind comment! I love a few of Comers books, maybe try Garden City if you haven’t read it before?!
I enjoyed reading this article! I love how you and your family celebrate Shabbat! It’s so commendable that you turn off your phones for 24 hours. Incredible! Great post!
Thanks for your kind comment. We honestly love our time “switched off” from the world. Let me know if you ever try it and how it goes! Abi