Spiritual Practices Resources (with sabbath updates)

Spiritual practices are regular exercises we incorporate into our lives that place us in step with the Spirit as we follow Jesus Christ.


1. “Reclaiming 24/1” by Ray Waddle (from 2005; this article includes “10 ways to start keeping Sabbath”)

2. Reclaiming Sabbath, a series of blogs from highcalling.org

3. Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message, was once asked: “What should a Sabbath look like in my life? What does it look like in yours?”*

Peterson responded:
“A day of unplugging. That’s a good way to put it. When I was a pastor, the Sabbath was on Monday, because Sunday was a workday for me. My wife and I didn’t practice Sabbath when we had small children, because it took us a few years to figure out our rhythm.
But typically on a Monday, we would pack a lunch, and we would go to the woods. We’d hike for three or four hours in silence. Then we prayed, had lunch, talked, and worked our way back home.
We’d get home by the time the kids were home. Interesting, they loved this. We weren’t uptight about anything because it was the Lord’s Day. We played and we prayed and didn’t do anything that wasn’t necessary. Unplugged everything, basically.
It transformed our lives, our family life, our personal lives, and our congregational life. Not everybody did it, but they saw us doing it. Somehow that gave them a sense that they don’t have to do what the world’s telling them to do. It really does take effort and determination. Those of us who want to keep the Sabbath are going to have to be pretty intentional about it. I’ve been doing this for at least 40 years consistently, and I’ve had dozens of students and parishioners who have also adopted this practice. Most of us find it’s the most radical thing we’ve ever done-and the most creative.”
*This is a segment of an interview from churchleaders.com. You can see the full article here.
4. “8 Practical Ways to Celebrate Sabbath as a Family” by Joanna Rodriguez

5. “Observing the Sabbath” by Matthew Sleeth (video)

6. “Wisdom and Sabbath Rest” by Tim Keller (skip down to “Sabbath Practicals”)

7. “Practicing Sabbath: Easier Said Than Done” by Carl Gregg

spiritual reading & prayer

1. Bibles (the most natural starting place).

The Common English (CEB) Study Bible. The editor of the CEB, Joel Green, says it best: “We’ve prepared The CEB Study Bible to provide ordinary Bible readers and reading groups with guidance for learning and understanding.” This study bible is good for “ordinary” bible reader, but it’s also good for people who want to take it to the next level. In my opinion (Ross), it’s the best bible out there for people in different places of faith. (There is also a kids’ version of this bible called The Deep Blue Kids Bible.)

Zondervan NIV Study Bible (2011 ed.) – The goal of the NIV translators is to bring readers into a spiritual experience of scripture with a balance of “thought-for-thought” and “word-for-word” translation. The NIV has, most admirably, opened itself up to feedback and criticism in order ensure that the words and thoughts it presents are vibrant and responsible.

Harper Collins NRSV Study Bible – The New Revised Standard Version is the most respected translation in academic circles. With the contributors’ attention to archaeological, historical and literary sources, the NRSV is probably as accurately word-for-word as possible. Yet, it’s readable, and with the scholarly commentary, the text really comes to life.

The Message Study Bible – Eugene Peterson, a long-time pastor and expert in ancient languages (Hebrew, Greek, etc.), created The Message in order to experience, for himself and others, the bible as “living and active.” Some criticize The Message, as a “paraphrased” translation. However, Peterson honors the holiness of scripture by bringing to life what is often “lost in translation.” Peterson adapts the words, devices and themes of the ancient languages to the “rhythms” of common English. For more on Peterson, watch “Immersed in Scripture.”

Community Bible Experience. This project (from the video above) is aimed at getting people to read big chunks of the bible at a time. It helps readers to see the bible as a big (and this is important) unfinished narrative. Also, it’s intended for groups.

2. The lectionary. This is a collection of weekly readings, prayers and art (!) based on the church calendar. It provides good rhythm and focus.

3. The book of Psalms. You might think, huh? A book of the bible? Studying and praying the psalms over and over is an amazing pathway to growth. One minute the psalmist seems to be saying one thing only to say another thing entirely the next. The psalms are honest, challenging, confusing and comforting.

4. Rob Bell’s blog series, What is the Bible? These blogs get right to the heart of some questions most of us have about the bible. Remember, it’s one person’s perspective.

5. “Under the Surface: the Bible.” This is one of our blogs, also written to help people think about what the bible is and what we’re doing when we read it.

6. “Outer Space: the World of All Scripture.” Also one of our posts aimed at helping people think about engaging the bible.

7. Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott.

8. Eugene Peterson’s book, Eat This Book. 

9. “A New Kind of Scripture Reading” (video from qideas.org).

10. bible.com (aka YouVersion). As obvious as it is, this site is a great tool with different translations, all kinds of reading plans and much more. These are the same folks that offer the YouVersion bible app. They also now have a great bible app for kids (search “bible app for kids” in your app store).

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