How Celebrating the Sabbath Can Strengthen Your Family Relationships

What Day do You Go to Church? The Hope Channel Helped This Couple Find the Right Day
What Day do You Go to Church? The Hope Channel Helped This Couple Find the Right Day

Did you know that keeping the Sabbath can help make your family stronger?

After all, it’s a time set aside by God to enjoy all that He created—from the air we breathe to the people we come in contact with each day.

By stepping away from work, school, and all the other obligations and stressors of the week, we can enter into rest and communion with God. This allows us to better connect with those around us as well.

Let’s look at exactly how Sabbath can provide the focused, quality time to build up your relationships with those you love. 

  • Review: Why was the Sabbath created?
  • How is the Sabbath beneficial to families?
  • What did families in the Bible do to grow spiritually?
  • Ideas for celebrating the Sabbath with our families (and friends)

First, let’s look back at why the Sabbath was created and how it’s perfect for uniting families as they focus on God.

Open Bible on a table

WHY WAS THE SABBATH CREATED?

The Sabbath was created as a gift on the seventh day of Creation (Genesis 2:1-3). God had our well-being in mind during the first creation week. He knew how much we’d need time set apart to refresh our weary hearts and remember how much He loves us. 

He also knew the importance of taking a moment to revel in the goodness of His creation. And in the beautiful relationships that are part of it. 

The word “Sabbath” comes from the Hebrew word shabbat, which means to stop or pause for the purpose of rest. 

At the first shabbat, right after creating the world, God stopped His work and rested on the seventh day, enjoying what He just made, as an example to us.

After a long day’s work, we’re worn out. We need physical rest from our labor. The blessing of the Sabbath restores us physically, spiritually, and emotionally:

  • We are able to physically rest on the Sabbath
  • We are able to reconnect with God by reading His word and being in His presence
  • Through these things, we are able to strengthen our family relationships and help fulfill one another’s emotional needs. 

So let’s look more closely at exactly how the Sabbath helps us enrich our relationships, especially with our families. 

Outdoor Portrait Of Multi-Generation Family In Garden At Home Against Flaring Sun

HOW IS THE SABBATH BENEFICIAL TO FAMILIES?

True rest is more beneficial than we might realize. Taking time to hit pause allows us time to focus on what is truly important in life. 

During the week, we tend to forget to prioritize our relationships as we get caught up in deadlines, work projects, home projects, etc. 

The Sabbath helps us realign our priorities. 

God knew that prearranged, set-aside time is highly beneficial for keeping relational bonds strong. Relationships need nurture. Or they can wither over time.

So it’s no surprise that families who spend more time together are stronger and happier.

In fact, time and proximity alone can be enough to spark new friendships. Consistently being in the presence of someone helps us bond in ways we aren’t even aware of, or can’t always put into words. 

And each Sabbath, this can happen regularly between us and God, and between us and our loved ones.

To help us understand what this looks like, let’s see what we can find in Scripture.

Shot of a father carrying his little boy on his shoulders

WHAT DID FAMILIES IN THE BIBLE DO TO GROW SPIRITUALLY?

It’s God’s design for families to worship and pray together. We see in the book of Deuteronomy that prayer, worship, and knowledge in the Lord were encouraged to be part of an everyday regimen:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 

You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (ESV)

For God’s people, faith is a part of their everyday lives. Parents are to teach their children the Scriptures and the commandments of God, including the Sabbath. 

Writing to Timothy, Paul says:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:14, 15 (ESV)

Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him to be a faithful follower of Christ. What a wonderful legacy to pass down to future generations.

We can learn so much from the faithful people in the Bible. We can also use the example of Jesus to learn ways to keep the Sabbath as a family. 

In the Bible, Jesus:

  • Rested by communing with God and others(Matthew 27:58-60)
  • Healed the sick (Mark 3:1; John 5:2; John 9; Luke 13)
  • Taught people about the love of God (Matthew 12:19; Mark 1:21; Mark 6:2)
  • Spent quality time with/shared meals with loved ones (Matthew 12; Luke 14:1)

We can use these activities as starting points for other ideas. Participating in things that align with Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath can restore our family relationships and bring us closer to our Heavenly Father.

two little asian children boy and girl running through field of flowers in park.

IDEAS TO CELEBRATE SABBATH WITH YOUR FAMILY

Keeping the Sabbath is really about spending your time focusing on those things in life that really matter. Try planning activities on the Sabbath that can bring you closer to God and your family. 

Creating family traditions for the Sabbath can help make the day something to enjoy and look forward to. It can also create stronger bonds between us and God. 

Some of these traditions can revolve around:

Let’s explore each of these in detail to help us find ways to strengthen our families. 

Happy father and his son with Down syndrome at church

#1 Preparing for the Sabbath

Sabbath preparation will help you:

  1. Anticipate the Sabbath and feel more rested
  2. Bond through working together on shared tasks 

First of all, observing the Sabbath is so much easier when you don’t have to worry about things like:

  • What you will all eat
  • If the house is clean
  • If you have the things on hand you’ll need for the weekend

Preparing your home for the Sabbath is the first step in making sure you’re able to truly rest. It’s easy to still feel stressed if your environment is still messy or full of half-done projects.

Secondly, participating in preparation activities is a great way to spend quality time together. Doing cooperative tasks ensures that everyone plays a part in making Sabbath special. 

Here are some ways you can work together to prepare before Sabbath day so that it can be as restful as possible:

  • Cleaning the house
  • Filling the gas tanks in your vehicles
  • Grocery shopping
  • Planning your Sabbath menu
  • Preparing food ahead of time
  • Choosing what you’ll wear to church
  • Shopping for items you need for the weekend

Switch things up each week, too, if you feel like that might help. For example, one week, the children of the household can plan the menu and help with grocery shopping, and on another week they can help with preparing the house. 

Or, each week your family can decide on a certain part of the house to add some Sabbath decoration to, like Sabbath candles, a framed Bible verse, a special table setting, or a reminder of God’s creation, like a bouquet of wildflowers that you picked together.

These are just some examples of how Sabbath preparation can involve all members of the family. When we work together, we nourish our relationships and look forward to the restfulness of the end result: the Sabbath.

When it comes to your family, you know each other best. You might come up with all kinds of things you’ll look forward to doing (or not doing!) each week as you prepare for Sabbath.

Happy asian couple family washing dishes together at kitchen

#2 Beginning the Sabbath

Each member can play a part in greeting the Sabbath each Friday evening and making it special.

For some ideas on how to do that, a few Jewish traditions for Sabbath observance can give us a fun starting point with a biblical basis. 

Since the Sabbath begins at sundown, some people light “Sabbath candles,” and a member of the family chooses a passage to read from the Bible. 

You can make this specific to your family by letting each member share their favorite Bible verse or singing a praise song together. 

Also, instead of greeting people with a “hello” like every other day of the week, try greeting each other with “Happy Sabbath!” 

Family with grandparents and grandson lighting candles

#3 Enjoying Sabbath Meals

One of the best ways to bond with people is over food, right? So it would only make sense to make Sabbath meals a special time to enjoy together.

A special meal on Friday night and Saturday afternoon is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy your favorite things while you celebrate the Sabbath.

To make it even more special, you can make your own food traditions to become part of your Sabbath celebration.

Maybe Friday night you always serve soup with Jewish Challah bread.

Or perhaps you make your favorite homemade pizza. Or make fresh lemonade.

Of course, you don’t have to have the same kind of food each week for Sabbath. It’s really all about making the day meaningful for your family and spending time together. Match your traditions to what your family enjoys.

(But a word of caution: Be careful not to let the traditions become more important than the fellowship—or your health! If, over time, some things become stressful or tiresome to maintain, or if they just lose some of their original excitement, remember that the priority is restful, bonding, God-focused time. No need to put too much pressure on yourself or your family.)

Silhouette of a boy with hands raised in the sunset over the sea

#4 SPECIAL SABBATH ACTIVITIES

Setting aside special activities to reserve for Sabbath can help you spend time with God, serve others, and spend meaningful time with your family.

To start, ask your family what activities they think would be fun to do on Sabbath. (These could possibly become the Sabbath traditions or rituals you grow to enjoy and remember.) Even brainstorming these traditions together can be an activity in and of itself! 

For instance: Perhaps your family would like to wake up early on Sabbath morning for breakfast together or for a nature walk.

Or, maybe you pre-make a delicious breakfast together the day before, so you can all sleep in!

Or maybe you decide to volunteer somewhere together, like a soup kitchen, a nursing home, a children’s home, a community service center, etc.

Get creative and work together to plan for making Sabbath special each week.

But always remember that Sabbath’s real blessing is about enjoying God’s creation and spending time with those He gave us in our families. 

Sabbath does not have to become all about how creative of an activity can you come up with, or how many things you can do that are uniquely for the Sabbath, etc. 

This special day is also made to restore our souls. Some weeks, you may not feel like doing anything! 

And that might be just what you and your family need. Some Sabbaths can be celebrated by embracing shabbat, by stopping everything else and just relaxing together, enjoying one another’s company, thanking God for this opportunity.

92 SABBATH ACTIVITY IDEAS FAMILIES CAN DO TOGETHER

  1. Enjoy Friday night worship with family and friends
  2. Ask for prayer requests and pray together
  3. Take a hike or spend time in nature
  4. Play a Bible Trivia game
  5. Visit a neighbor or church member.
  6. Study the Bible together
  7. Draw or illustrate Bible stories
  8. Do crafts to illustrate Bible characters or stories
  9. Play musical instruments together
  10. Read a Sabbath book out loud
  11. Listen to a Sabbath podcast
  12. Listen to Your Story Hour stories on CD or online
  13. Visit online sites to answer spiritual questions people have
  14. Invite a less fortunate family over to visit
  15. Learn new praise songs
  16. Write a song
  17. Use Bible-based conversation starters to connect with one another
  18. Draw discussion topics from a hat and talk about them
  19. Brings treats to your neighbor and fellowship together
  20. Take food to a homeless shelter or volunteer to help
  21. Visit a nursing home
  22. Invite friends to the park for a campfire and songs
  23. Hold a Bible story time in the park
  24. Give a Bible study to a new believer
  25. Write and share your personal testimony
  26. Share Bible tracts with people in town
  27. Visit widows or shut-ins who belong to your church
  28. Create a Bible scene with felts
  29. Play Bible charades
  30. Look through old family photo albums
  31. Color in a pretty nature-themed coloring book
  32. Create “Top Ten” lists: Bible stories, sea animals, pets, etc.
  33. Go on a nature scavenger hunt
  34. Visit with relatives
  35. Go on a walk
  36. Dress in costume and do a Bible skit
  37. Video chat with friends or family who live far away
  38. Write letters to missionaries and pray for them
  39. Go camping with your family or church group
  40. Put a nature puzzle together
  41. Do a topical Bible study
  42. Study trees and learn how to identify them
  43. Offer to babysit children for a single parent
  44. Read the words to a hymn and discuss the meaning
  45. Sing songs around the piano
  46. Listen to Christian music
  47. Have a special Sabbath box of toys and activities for the children
  48. Do Bible crossword puzzles
  49. Play a Bible board game
  50. Pray outside together
  51. Read miracle stories
  52. Pray for the family you plan to visit next week
  53. Quietly watch the sun as it sets on Saturday evening
  54. Call someone who wasn’t at church and let them know they were missed
  55. Share one thing you love about each other
  56. Visit prison inmates or start a prison ministry
  57. Visit an orphanage
  58. Talk about what heaven might be like together
  59. Study the Sabbath school lesson
  60. Think of questions you’d like to ask Jesus
  61. Take a cd copy of the sermon to someone who missed church
  62. Have family worship outside
  63. Write a letter to Jesus or color a picture for Jesus
  64. Learn a memory verse
  65. Invite someone to your home who can’t return the favor
  66. Make a gratitude list
  67. Pick someone up for church who doesn’t have a ride
  68. Take church magazines or literature to a neighbor or friend who would appreciate them
  69. Write down your prayer requests and answers to prayers
  70. Take your dog for a long walk or to the park
  71. Take a meal to a shut-in or a family with a new baby
  72. Turn off the lights on Friday night and use candles instead
  73. Memorize Scripture songs
  74. Visit a national forest
  75. Invite someone to attend church with your family
  76. Interview the oldest member of your church
  77. Make handmade cards to send to someone who is sick
  78. Make a shoebox diorama of your favorite Bible story
  79. Spread a blanket in the grass and find pictures in the clouds
  80. Have an “object lesson:” Each person picks an object and shares a lesson from the Bible using that object
  81. Talk about how to honor and respect God’s house
  82. Write a parable in your own words
  83. Write a letter to a Bible character
  84. Discuss the highlights of the pastor’s sermon over supper
  85. Take a bike ride together
  86. Plan a random act of kindness
  87. Find gospel quotes to share on social media
  88. Write in a family journal
  89. Pick flowers and take them to a friend or neighbor
  90. Talk about family values and what they mean to you
  91. Write a thank you note to someone who was kind to you this week
  92. Attend your local church

When you put in effort toward celebrating the Sabbath as a family, you can find yourselves blessed in countless ways. The Bible even tells us that God wants us to find the Sabbath “a delight” (Isaiah 58:13).

[If you want to learn more about the Sabbath and what it is, start your own online Bible study.