src in org: https://www.youtube.com/embed/NgI7tzyHkQ0?list=PLHww977vg7eRKmzc2yz12dHPXc-x-Ub-s
src gen org: https://www.youtube.com/embed/NgI7tzyHkQ0
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.
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.
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.
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.Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (ESV)
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.
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.
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:
- Preparing for the Sabbath
- Beginning the Sabbath
- Enjoying Sabbath meals
- Spending quality time with God, each other, and fellow believers
Let’s explore each of these in detail to help us find ways to strengthen our families.
#1 Preparing for the Sabbath
Sabbath preparation will help you:
- Anticipate the Sabbath and feel more rested
- 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.
#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!”
#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.)
#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
- Enjoy Friday night worship with family and friends
- Ask for prayer requests and pray together
- Take a hike or spend time in nature
- Play a Bible Trivia game
- Visit a neighbor or church member.
- Study the Bible together
- Draw or illustrate Bible stories
- Do crafts to illustrate Bible characters or stories
- Play musical instruments together
- Read a Sabbath book out loud
- Listen to a Sabbath podcast
- Listen to Your Story Hour stories on CD or online
- Visit online sites to answer spiritual questions people have
- Invite a less fortunate family over to visit
- Learn new praise songs
- Write a song
- Use Bible-based conversation starters to connect with one another
- Draw discussion topics from a hat and talk about them
- Brings treats to your neighbor and fellowship together
- Take food to a homeless shelter or volunteer to help
- Visit a nursing home
- Invite friends to the park for a campfire and songs
- Hold a Bible story time in the park
- Give a Bible study to a new believer
- Write and share your personal testimony
- Share Bible tracts with people in town
- Visit widows or shut-ins who belong to your church
- Create a Bible scene with felts
- Play Bible charades
- Look through old family photo albums
- Color in a pretty nature-themed coloring book
- Create “Top Ten” lists: Bible stories, sea animals, pets, etc.
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt
- Visit with relatives
- Go on a walk
- Dress in costume and do a Bible skit
- Video chat with friends or family who live far away
- Write letters to missionaries and pray for them
- Go camping with your family or church group
- Put a nature puzzle together
- Do a topical Bible study
- Study trees and learn how to identify them
- Offer to babysit children for a single parent
- Read the words to a hymn and discuss the meaning
- Sing songs around the piano
- Listen to Christian music
- Have a special Sabbath box of toys and activities for the children
- Do Bible crossword puzzles
- Play a Bible board game
- Pray outside together
- Read miracle stories
- Pray for the family you plan to visit next week
- Quietly watch the sun as it sets on Saturday evening
- Call someone who wasn’t at church and let them know they were missed
- Share one thing you love about each other
- Visit prison inmates or start a prison ministry
- Visit an orphanage
- Talk about what heaven might be like together
- Study the Sabbath school lesson
- Think of questions you’d like to ask Jesus
- Take a cd copy of the sermon to someone who missed church
- Have family worship outside
- Write a letter to Jesus or color a picture for Jesus
- Learn a memory verse
- Invite someone to your home who can’t return the favor
- Make a gratitude list
- Pick someone up for church who doesn’t have a ride
- Take church magazines or literature to a neighbor or friend who would appreciate them
- Write down your prayer requests and answers to prayers
- Take your dog for a long walk or to the park
- Take a meal to a shut-in or a family with a new baby
- Turn off the lights on Friday night and use candles instead
- Memorize Scripture songs
- Visit a national forest
- Invite someone to attend church with your family
- Interview the oldest member of your church
- Make handmade cards to send to someone who is sick
- Make a shoebox diorama of your favorite Bible story
- Spread a blanket in the grass and find pictures in the clouds
- Have an “object lesson:” Each person picks an object and shares a lesson from the Bible using that object
- Talk about how to honor and respect God’s house
- Write a parable in your own words
- Write a letter to a Bible character
- Discuss the highlights of the pastor’s sermon over supper
- Take a bike ride together
- Plan a random act of kindness
- Find gospel quotes to share on social media
- Write in a family journal
- Pick flowers and take them to a friend or neighbor
- Talk about family values and what they mean to you
- Write a thank you note to someone who was kind to you this week
- 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.