A major component of the Christian life, with powerful Biblical roots, is the practice of Sabbath, rest, and renewal. Jesus Himself lived a life based on a pattern of active life (e.g. ministering to the crowds), and a passive or quiet life in prayer with God (e.g. praying on the mountain). Increasingly it is becoming common wisdom that that most important commodity afforded us in the Western world is not money, but time.
How a culture, or a person, marks time is a great indication of the spiritual health of that culture or individual. Ancient Israel, as attested in the Hebrew Scriptures, kept a religious calendar of celebrations and solemn observances remembering the great acts of God through their history (e.g. Passover). Early in Christian history the Church wisely continued this practice by establishing a liturgical calendar (sometimes referred to as the Christian year), which sought to mark time by remembering the great moments in the life of Christ and His followers. Sadly, many Churches that descended from the Reformation gave up this calendar and were left with a very sparse Christian year containing: Christmas, Easter, and maybe Good Friday.
Yet, many Christians who worship in liturgical churches do not take advantage of the benefits of the Christian year. They do receive the benefits of the liturgical seasons on Sundays and perhaps even weekly during Advent and Lent, but their daily lives aren’t impacted by a Christian sense of keeping time at all. The Christian year, along with the daily prayer tradition of the Church, provides a great deal of sanity for our personal and work schedules in an otherwise insane world of ceaseless activity.
1. Learn to Pause Daily
For centuries Christians have paused to pray together or individually throughout the day: Morning Prayer, Noon Day Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline. You don’t need to pray formally any of the liturgically offices (though there are great benefits in doing so), but choose one time of the day as your “quiet time.” Start small, let’s say 3 minutes, and dedicate it to some Scripture reading and prayer. Build up from there.
2. Learn to Pause Weekly
Read Det. 5 and Exodus 20. See also Genesis 2. It’s called the Sabbath. Weekly worship (and an accompanying day dedicated to family and recreation) isn’t merely a way to check off your religious obligation box – it’s a life saving and giving practice that anchors the rest of your life. Not attending worship on a weekly basis is like starving your soul of much needed nutrients.
3. Learn to Pause Monthly
Let’s face it: life can get out of hand. You need to mark out a day or two where you connect with your family, spouse, friends, or significant other (or maybe even spend the time by yourself with God). The only way to have this monthly pause is to plan it out way in advance.
4. Learn to Pause Seasonally
One of the problem’s of being in a culture with sophisticated technology is that we now have the ability to work 24/7 regardless of natural conditions: darkness, storms, cold, heat, etc. With careful planning many of us can cut back on meetings, shift the work load, and plan to either get away on vacation, or simply have less to do during a particular part of the year. For many people July or August in the summer and December or January in the winter work well as PAUSING months. The seasons of Advent and Lent also serve as good times to pause.
5. Learn to Pause Annually
You’ve got to get away from it all. Even if the “ALL” is a wonderful family, a caring spouse, fantastic friends, perfect kids, a dream job, etc. No matter how good things are you need to get away from everything and re-charge. The only way you can do this correctly is by planning your annual get away well in ADVANCE.
If you’ve taken the time to “pause” from your daily life to read this article then I’m confident you can take the time out to pause daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, and annually.