knowing God

Discover The Rhythms Of The Daily Office And Sabbath, 5 February 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The fifth pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to discover the rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath.

Connecting With God

How do you connect with God? Many people engage in religious activities to learn about or appease God. The essence of Christianity, however, is a relationship with God. All relationships require time, effort, and dedication. Today we will be discussing two powerful tools to help you grow in your relationship with God. These are not two things to add to your to-do list. They are not a measure of your spirituality. If used, however, they will radically enhance your relationship with God and yourself.

Daniel 6

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?” (Daniel 6:9-11)


Our culture knows nothing about rhythms. We live life 24/7, an expression that was unknown a decade ago. We use words like chaos, scattered, distracted, stressed, and overwhelmed to describe our existence. We are always on the way to something or somewhere. We strive for bigger, better, and faster.

How do I have a calm, centered life that is oriented around God?

You were created to know and love God and be known by and loved by Him.

We need to slow down to connect with God. How?

You cannot jump off a moving treadmill. You must slow it down first.

The Daily Office and Sabbath bring rhythm to our lives daily and weekly.

The Daily Office or Fixed-Hour Prayer: daily rhythm

Daniel is at the University of Babylon, essentially. His name is changed and the leaders attempt to take God out of him. Our culture is much like Babylon, trying to make us think and act like the world rather than God.

Daniel is a busy, respected man in service to the king.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)

Daniel prays three times each day on his knees. Posture is meaningful. This is not just a quick quiet time or devotional.

Office (
opus) means “work of God” in Latin. My work is to seek and be with God.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

That is David’s work. An office is about being with God, not trying to get things from God. Our first work is to seek God and be with God.

How can you be aware of and conscious of God throughout the day? You must stop and pause throughout the day to be aware of His presence.

Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws. (Psalms 119:164)

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
(Psalm 92:1-2)

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
(Psalm 55:17)

The Psalms are a prayer book.

The Daily Office is frequently associated with Catholics or highly liturgical denominations. All followers of Jesus can benefit from books of prayer that incorporate Scripture and reflection.

The issue is not what you do, but getting connected with God through Scripture and silence where you can be still in the presence of God.

Kierkegaard said,

The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I should reply: Create silence. All will be acquired in stillness and made divine in silence.

The only thing that can contain God is silence. The only way to experience it is to do it. It’s simple, but difficult.

Distractions are always present, but with practice they become easier to ignore.

The idea of the Daily Office is to stop several times throughout the day to pause and remember God. It is a discipline to order your day to remind you what is important in life: God. It centers you.

The four classic office periods are

- Morning: 6-9 AM
- Midday: 11 AM-2 PM
- Evening: 5-8 PM
- Bedtime: before you close your eyes!

Start and close your day with God and remember Him throughout the day. The Daily Office is like a mini Sabbath each day.

Most people live off of the spirituality of others because they do not make time for God.
The Daily Office may involve

- reading Scripture
- reading a prayer book
- taking a walk
- journaling
- whatever works for you to connect with God throughout the day
- breaks throughout the day of 5-30 minutes

Sabbath: weekly rhythm

This is a command by God for us to stop for a 24-hour period each week.

The Sabbath is the first holy thing mentioned in the Bible.

Do nothing one day a week.

Without the fourth and longest commandment, you cannot do the other nine.

God’s Top Ten: Exodus 20:1-17

1. You shall have no other gods before me
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord our God. On it you shall not do any work,... For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”

5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not give false witness.
10. You shall not covet.

God commands rhythm in our lives of work and rest.

Sabbath was made for us not us for the Sabbath.

Sabbath is about self-care. Our world says you are what you do. Your life is God alone, not your outputs and performance.

Qualities to Biblical Sabbath

-- Stopping
-- Resting
-- Delighting
-- Contemplating

You must prepare for the Sabbath. You can’t just do it.

The core issue is trusting God.

We taste heaven on the Sabbath.

Sabbath is very radical. It has always been revolutionary!

It’s like a snow day every week!

It’s not a punishment but a gift. There is no place for legalism, it is to be a delight.

Sabbath Scriptures

The word “Sabbath” appears 116 times in the NIV translation of the Bible.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
(Exodus 20:10)

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:11)

“‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.
(Exodus 31:14)

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.
(Exodus 31:15)

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. (Exodus 35:2)

“‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:3)

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.
(Deuteronomy 5:12)

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
(Deuteronomy 5:15)

For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
(Matthew 12:8)

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
(Mark 2:27-28)

Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
(Luke 23:56)

The Ancient Practice of Silence/Solitude: Guidelines

1. Be
Attentive and Open
2. Get Comfortable. Be Relaxed. Still
3. Take Deep Breath.
4. Close or Lower Your Eyes toward the Ground

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. (
Psalms 130:5)


We live in Babylon. Our culture is diametrically opposed to God. We are bombarded by subtle and not-so-subtle messages that seduce us away from the things of God.

If you are serious about following Jesus, you will need to do radical, counter-cultural things with your time, talents, and treasures. An hour on Sunday is not enough to maintain a relationship with God. A quick prayer at dinner or bedtime is not sufficient either. None of us—myself included—are able to spend all of our waking hours in prayer and Bible study, but we can periodically incorporate Scripture and silence into our daily lives and pause for one day a week to do nothing.

There are no shortcuts to relationships. Ever!

We were created to know God. The Daily Office and weekly Sabbath are biblical, powerful, and revolutionary ways to breathe deeply, be with God, and become like Jesus. They require sacrifice—Daniel faced a den of lions for his prayers—but the reward is worth it.

A Sample Daily Office For Groups

1. Pause for two minutes of silence (Psalm 46:10)
2. Read aloud Psalm 90:4, 12, 17
3. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
4. Read aloud Psalm 33:20-22
5. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
6. Read aloud Matthew 6:9-14
7. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
8. Read aloud Isaiah 30:15 and Psalm 86:11, 13a
9. Pause for two minutes of silence

For Further Reading

The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle

Praying With The Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today by Scot McKnight
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence 
Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre De Caussade
Too Deep for Words by Thelma Hall 
Sabbath Presence by Kathleen Casey

The Divine Hours
Sacred Space
Pray As You Go (audio daily office)
Northumbria Community:

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.

Give (presence), 18 December 2011

Big Idea: one way to make this Christmas season different is to give more presence than presents.

  • This week’s word is give…presence!

  • This week one of my teenagers asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I said what I want more than anything is time together as a family. I want to create memories. I want to be WITH my family more than anything FROM my family.

  • Right now many of you under age 25 are thinking—boring! Give me something with a battery!!!

  • I don’t know if it’s because I already have a bunch of toys or because I’m getting older or what, but I don’t need or even want more stuff. I crave intimacy—deep relationship with God, Heather, my kids, and my friends.

  • I was recently being mentored by Jeff Brown, our District Superintendent with the Christian & Missionary Alliance. In our conversation, I mentioned how I am head-over-heels in love with my wife. I love to go on exciting dates with her, I love to travel with her, and I even love to just be together, sitting on the couch, silently reading books. Her mere presence with me bring me so much joy.

  • Jeff asked me about my intimacy with God. I said that I’m not satisfied with it. I want more. I long to hear the voice of God, for Him to lead and guide me every moment of every day. I said that there are moment—particularly in worship and in nature—when I feel so close to God and want to feel that all of the time.

  • Jeff challenged me, asking me if just being with God was enough. Could I just sit on the couch and be joyful about God’s mere presence? Was I even spending quality, uninterrupted time with God?

  • Jeff reminded me of the quote from Pastor and author John Piper who said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

  • This is Piper’s definition of Christian hedonism. Yes, Christian hedonism. He continues...

  • “We all make a god out of what we take the most pleasure in. Christian Hedonists want to make God their God by seeking after the greatest pleasure—pleasure in him. By Christian Hedonism, we do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. We mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end. We should pursue this happiness, and pursue it with all our might. The desire to be happy is a proper motive for every good deed, and if you abandon the pursuit of your own joy you cannot love man or please God.”

  • We’ve all been told that it’s better to give than to receive. This is true not only with presents that we buy, but also when we give presence.

  • Perhaps the most famous story of someone giving presence involves Jesus and two sisters.

  • As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

  • “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:38-42

  • Does this passage convict anyone else or just me? I tend to want to be the busy person rather than slowing down, being still, and giving God and/or others my undivided attention.

  • Jesus modeled the value of presence.

  • John 1:14 tells us ...

  • The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • God could’ve given us a gift from afar, but He comes close. Why? He values relationships above all.

  • I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of this in The Message.

  • The Word became flesh and blood,
  • and moved into the neighborhood.
  • We saw the glory with our own eyes,
  • the one-of-a-kind glory,
  • like Father, like Son,
  • Generous inside and out,
  • true from start to finish.

  • This week I was reading through the book of Hebrews and was struck by these verses:

  • "By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water."
  • - Hebrews 10:20-22 (New Living Translation)

  • Do you know the story? At the moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain that separated the people of Israel from the Holy of Holies was miraculously torn from top to bottom. No longer did people have to know God vicariously through a high priest, but could enter “right into the presence of God.”

  • The real gift of Jesus was not His miracles of healing or merely a ticket to heaven, but access to the presence of Almighty God forever!!!!

  • Do you see it? The greatest Christmas gift was the presence of God.

  • He could’ve sent angels, He could’ve made stars flash in the skies—and He did both of those—but He did something that was so much greater. He gave Himself. He didn’t delegate. He didn’t send merely send a messenger, though He sent several to prepare the way.

  • Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:14

  • “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” — which means, “God with us.” - Matthew 1:23

  • There’s an old negro spiritual called “Give Me Jesus” that says, “You can have the world/Give me Jesus.”

  • What are you giving Jesus for His birthday? What He wants more than anything is you...not your presents, but your presence.

  • Years ago I joined a few friends for dinner with a well-known Christian author and I asked him how he defines success. At first, he said he never thinks about it. Easy for him to say as a celebrity!!!

  • Then he said, “Success is being fully present in the moment.”

  • Stop. Pay Attention. Focus. Where Are You?
    Where is your heart? Where is your soul?
    In a million different places. Mind on a million different things.
    Distressed. What needs to be done? Will you finish that project?
    Who won the game? Fretting over a to do list that is unfinished.
    Talking on the phone. Checking Twitter. Updating your status.
    Wondering what "they" are doing. What's going on "out there."
    Will I ever get ahead? The past. The future. Distracted. Out of Control.
    Be still and know that I am God.
    Take a deep breath. Rest in Him. Be rooted. Immersed.
    Get comfortable with silence. Listen. Find your true voice.
    Who and what is right in front of you? See things you didn't see.
    Feel things you didn't feel. Now engage in this moment.
    Be. Here. Now.

  • What are you giving others? Give more than a product. Give yourself. Give your attention. Give your time. Give your presence. Give Jesus!!!

  • He does not want you to keep Him to yourself. We have been called to not only know God, but also to make Him known. We have been called to share Jesus and give our presence to the world.

  • You can listen to the podcast here.
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