<%image(20050506-shabbat.jpg|83|111|shabbat)%> In a conversation with a friend the other day we hit on a funny thing about us Americans. Here’s the jist of the situation: we tell people in our church that we’re taking a month off, just to relax and refit. Yet the instant we think of having free time, we start planning something to do!!! I see this happen with my weekend as it fills up a break-neck speed almost without fail. When do I plan to do nothing?
My friend mentioned that in reading the OT’s teaching on sabbath it is striking to see that God wants the Jews to work ahead a bit during the week, preparing for the day off. The day off is not the time to get ahead, it’s the time to really kick back. Yet my view of the weekend and any time off is to usually get ahead of the game, trying to tie all of the loose ends together that have been evading me throughout the week.
So what would a real sabbath look like where we really take a load off and rest?
Well for one thing I love the Jewish concept of the sabbath beginning in the evening. For Jews sun down on Friday marks the beginning and sun down on Saturday is the end. It is a rhythm that resonates with me. Since Saturday is more natural is a time off than Sunday night, why not give that a shot? That means that I technically could still run some errands on Saturday, but still get the evening and the daylight hours of Sunday to rest. Sunday night can then be given to preparation for the coming week. Call me crazy, but that strikes me as a good deal.
What’s even crazier is that I wonder if we really want time off. It feels so greedy and unproductive. I mean 24 hours set aside for who knows what??? I usually feel that pull to start moving, do something, get busy. That’s why prayer is so hard.
One way that I try to combat my driving and god-forgetful nature is by practicing fixed hour prayer. It’s an ancient practice that goes back to the Jews, heck even Daniel prayed 3 times a day. While some forms of this “divine office” or “divine hours” have up to 7 times of prayer a day, Phyllis Tickle has developed soemthing a bit easier to swallow for the average Christian. She has developed a prayer guide with 3 times of prayer for each day. Check out the Divine Hours and see if it helps you slow down, rest in God, and connect with him at least 3 times a day in very meaningful ways. I’m just experimenting with this but have found it to be a helpful addition to my walk with the Lord.