Sabbath, a discipline of rest

Jesus thought us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Connecting with God through various moments of our day is when we can put this prayer into practice. 

How would our life be different if we made a conscious effort to pause, a few times a day, in order to bring our awareness to God’s presence in and around us?

Most of us have busy lives, so pausing for a moment of quiet, will at least at first take an effort. But it will also mean opening our hearts towards God, and allowing the reality of heaven to inform our earthly reality of every-day-ness. This can happen as simply as letting the beauty of the world invite us into brief moments of inner rest. A tree outside the window, its leaves warm yellow and red in Autumn, can be a pointer towards God and the beauty of God’s creation. I look at the tree, and allow some of God’s love to sip gently into my heart. I treasure the love God has for me, and now I can share it with the people I interact with. “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven”.

In his book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”, Peter Scazzero reminds us of God’s commandment to keep a Sabbath every week. He says, “The Sabbath calls us to build the doing of nothing into our schedules each week”. Scazzero mentions the four principles of the Biblical Sabbath: stopping, resting, delighting in God, and contemplation. I am not sure about you, but I often take a ‘day of rest’ when I am sick. I usually find it restoring. Yet I need to revisit my approach to Sundays, to what most of us would consider a day of rest in the week. Sabbath is to be rooted in our resting in God. It most specifically invites us to allows the quality of heaven to penetrate our daily lives for twenty-four hours each week. “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven”. But we don’t find it easy to put this into practice. It is countercultural. 

Every seventh day we are asked by God to pause, to imitate God who rested after six days. This day of rest can then inform our week, and smaller moments of rest we may want to incorporate in the rhythm of our lives. In any given year God gives us “over seven weeks (fifty-two days in all)” of rest (Scazzero). Imagine, seven weeks of rest! Seven weeks of allowing God’s reality to penetrate ours more fully. Seven weeks of allowing “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven” to become reality.

Most people take January as an inspiration to change something in their lives, by taking on the new year’s resolutions. I think November is a far better starting point. At the end of a year there is no pressure that ‘we won’t succeed’. We can try out something new, slowly. In this case, we can try incorporating rest, especially resting in God into our routine. By January we will have gathered some of the momentum, so it may not be as difficult to continue. 

I think if we all attempted to take this on board, our inner worlds would change. We would have more peace, more love, and we would bring the quality of God’s presence everywhere we go.

Iva Beranek
Dr Iva Beranek is the Ministry Facilitator for the CMH: Ireland