A photo of a family sitting together, reading the Bible, surrounded by nature, with serene expressions on their faces, embodying the peacefulness of keeping the Sabbath according to the Bible.

How To Keep The Sabbath According To The Bible

The Sabbath day is an important part of the week for those who wish to honor God and follow His commandments. In today’s busy world, keeping the Sabbath can be challenging, but is worthwhile for spiritual growth and rest.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the Bible commands God’s people to remember the Sabbath day by resting from work, not pursuing your own interests, and keeping the day holy as the Lord did after creation.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the biblical foundation for Sabbath observance, practical ways to prepare for and spend the Sabbath, potential questions about appropriate activities, and the blessings that come from setting apart the seventh day to the Lord.

The Biblical Basis for Sabbath Observance

The Example Set Forth at Creation

According to the biblical account in Genesis, God rested on the seventh day after working for six days to create the heavens and the earth (Genesis 2:2-3). This establishes the pattern of working for six days and resting on the seventh that serves as the basis for Sabbath observance.

By resting on the seventh day, we follow the example set forth at creation by God Himself.

The Fourth Commandment

The fourth of the Ten Commandments given to Moses was to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). God commanded the Israelites to do all their work in six days, but the seventh day was to be a sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord.

This commandment made Sabbath observance obligatory for God’s chosen people.

Jesus’s Teachings on the Sabbath

The Gospels record several instances where Jesus’s actions on the Sabbath came under criticism from the religious leaders, but Jesus affirmed that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

While Jesus emphasized that the Sabbath should be set apart as holy, he showed that doing good, helping others, and meeting basic needs could be proper on the Sabbath.

How to Prepare for the Sabbath

Complete Necessary Household Tasks

In order to fully rest on the Sabbath, it’s important to complete any necessary household tasks ahead of time. This may include laundry, cleaning, and straightening up the house. Leaving these tasks undone can cause stress or distraction during your Sabbath rest, so getting them done beforehand allows you to fully focus on God and family during this special time.

As Friday draws to a close, do a quick scan of your home and try to tie up any loose ends. Having a peaceful environment will set the tone for a peaceful Sabbath.

Shop for Food Ahead of Time

Another key way to prepare for the Sabbath is to do your grocery shopping and meal prep in advance. This prevents having to go out and shop or cook elaborate meals on the Sabbath itself. Consider stocking up on easy Sabbath-friendly foods like fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses, nuts, and anything else that requires little to no prep work.

You may also want to prepare some meals ahead of time that can simply be reheated. The goal is to avoid the stress and busyness of shopping and cooking so you can devote the Sabbath to worship and quality time with loved ones.

Plan Sabbath Activities in Advance

In order to make the most of the Sabbath day, it can be helpful to plan some special activities in advance. This might include crafts, games, nature walks, service projects, or time set aside for prayer and Bible study.

Having an idea of how you want to spend this sacred time can help it feel more intentional and meaningful. You may want to find some fun Sabbath-themed books and movies to have on hand. The key is to be proactive so when the Sabbath arrives, you can relax and enjoy it without having to scramble to figure out how to fill the time.

Approach the Sabbath with reverence and set the tone for a wonderful day of rest in God’s presence. With some advance planning, you can make it a truly blessed time.

Suggested Ways to Keep the Sabbath Holy

Attending Church Services

Gathering with other believers for worship and teaching is an important way to keep the Sabbath set apart for God (Hebrews 10:25). Attending a church service centers our minds on the Lord and allows us to celebrate Him together.

Many churches hold morning and evening services on Sundays to facilitate Sabbath observance. Setting aside other activities to meet with God’s people is a cornerstone habit of Sabbath keepers.

Spending Time in Prayer and Bible Study

Dedicated prayer and Bible study provide nourishment for our spiritual lives. Setting aside quality time to commune with God through His word allows Him to reveal Himself to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This is a non-negotiable part of Sabbath keeping, as it orients our minds toward the Lord.

Useful resources include BibleStudyTools.com and phone apps like YouVersion that offer reading plans and devotionals.

Singing Hymns and Spiritual Songs

Singing praise is an appropriate Sabbath activity, as it allows us to celebrate the greatness of our God. Ephesians 5:19 instructs us to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” to the Lord. Excellent options include playing worship music at home, singing along at church, or joining with family and friends to make music together.

Some find playing musical instruments unto the Lord an enjoyable way to praise Him with their talents.

Fellowshipping with Other Believers over a Meal

Sharing a meal with other Christians often facilitates rich fellowship and joyful celebration of God’s blessing. Acts 2:46 notes that believers broke bread together with gladness of heart. Scheduling shared Sabbath meals is a fantastic way for small groups, families, and individuals to enjoy Christian community.

Conversation naturally centers around spiritual things when we break bread together. Truly, something powerful happens when food, fellowship, and faith combine.

Questions about Permitted and Forbidden Activities

Is It Okay to Cook Food?

Cooking food often involves labor that violates the Sabbath rest, so it is generally advised to prepare meals ahead of time before the Sabbath begins. However, some biblical experts believe certain cooking activities like boiling water or keeping food warm may be permitted on the Sabbath.

Can I Drive a Car on the Sabbath?

Most Christian denominations do not allow driving cars or public transportation on the Sabbath as these involve work and violate rest and worship. Exceptions may be made in cases of emergency or essential travel to church services.

What about Switching Lights On and Off?

There is debate around whether simply flipping a light switch constitutes “work.” Some argue any purposeful, planned exertion of energy goes against Sabbath rest. Others believe quick, effortless acts like switching lights do not count as prohibited labor.

Should Any Work Be Done Even for Good Deeds?

Though the intention may be kind, the bible prohibits doing “customary employment” or business-as-usual work on the Sabbath even if meant to help others. Scripture encourages postponing laborious efforts of service and charity until after the Sabbath day of worshipful rest.

The Blessings and Benefits of Sabbath Observance

Physical Rest and Renewal

Observing the Sabbath allows our minds and bodies to take a break from the stresses and strains of our daily lives. Setting aside a full day for spiritual rejuvenation is a gift, providing time away from the constant pressure to work and achieve.

On the Sabbath, we can relax and reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones, nature, and God.

Scientific research shows that taking regular time off is essential for physical health and emotional well-being. For example, an NIH study found that frequently skipping vacation time was a risk factor for early death.

Honoring the Sabbath gives us permission to step off the hamster wheel of productivity and focus simply on being, not doing. This restores us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Closer Relationship with God

Keeping the Sabbath holy is an act of faith that brings us closer to God. Setting aside our usual routines shows that we trust in God’s provision and recognize that life does not depend on our own efforts. Sabbath observance allows more time for prayer, Bible study, worship, and Christian fellowship.

It enables us to focus on strengthening our connection with God.

Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Keeping the Sabbath allows us to let go of burdens and anxieties and instead find rest in Christ. It helps renew our souls and reminds us to put God first in our lives.

The Sabbath is a weekly opportunity to deepen our relationship with the Lord.

Teaches Reliance on God Rather than Our Efforts

It’s easy to slip into the mindset that everything depends on our hard work. Sabbath observance counteracts this tendency by teaching us to rely on God more than our own efforts. Refraining from work one day a week is an act of faith, showing that we trust God will provide for us even when we cease striving for a time.

In our productivity-driven society, resting from work may feel unproductive, inefficient, or even scary. But as we learn to honor God’s command for Sabbath rest, we gain a liberating realization: Our value and security comes from God, not our jobs.

Keeping the Sabbath teaches us to find our identity in Christ rather than in human achievements.


Keeping the Sabbath day holy is an integral part of faithful Christian living according to biblical principles. While adhering to Sabbath restrictions can be challenging in today’s 24/7 world, those who honor God’s commandment to remember the seventh day and keep it holy receive blessings of spiritual refreshment, a stronger connection with God, peace amidst life’s stresses, and more.

As you prepare your heart to observe the Lord’s Day each week, you can take comfort in resting in the finished work Christ accomplished on your behalf.

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