Be Still, For Sabbath’s Sake: A Q&A with Author J. Dana Trent

Y’all. Have I got a treat for you! This week we’re delighted to welcome author J. Dana Trent, whose most recent book, For Sabbath’s Sake: Embracing Your Need for Rest, Worship, and Community, debuts this week. Dana is a long-time friend and fellow Upper Room author, so I was thrilled to get to sit down with Dana for a Q&A on stillness, prayer beads, and all things sabbath. Enjoy!

KEV: So Dana, your first book, Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk, is very different from For Sabbath’s Sake. Why sabbath—and why now?

JDT: I see an entire American culture yearning for sabbath. People are sending out emergency signals, begging for relief from their stressed-out, overworked, desperate lives. People want rest, devotional practices, and community. They want real life—the kind of meaning we only find when we slow down enough to let the Spirit of God fill and shape us.

KEV: Our Prayerworks Studio fans and prayer beads enthusiasts love tips and tools for “being still.” What role does contemplative practice play in sabbath? How might prayer beads serve as a sabbath tool?

JDT: Jesus was a sabbatarian. He worshiped and studied in the temple, and he was really into community—but he also valued time alone in prayer. In the Gospels, when Jesus feels his service is done for the time being, he goes to a “lonely” place for solitude, prayer, and a spiritual fill-up. (See Matthew 14:23; Luke 5:15-16; Mark 1:32-33, 35-36.) Jesus’ sabbath practice demonstrates a rhythm of love and contemplation, being in community and in solitude.

Our world is full of distractions. Prayer beads are tangible instruments that help us center ourselves in God’s presence and love. When we use prayer beads, we can more easily connect to the internal spiritual practices Jesus demonstrated in his prayer life. With the beads in our hands, we have both a visual and kinesthetic trigger to help us take a deep breath and focus on something other than the chaos surrounding us.

KEV: What is the one thing you want readers to walk away with after they enjoy For Sabbath’s Sake?

JDT: I want readers to know that sabbath is a free gift waiting to be opened each week. Sabbath is about reclaiming our time for spiritual practice; it’s accepting God’s invitation to slow down and let meaning-making catch us.

I want everyone to remember that stepping outside of our daily lives to rest, worship, or gather in community for a day or an entire afternoon puts us in a posture of awe and appreciation. It’s our weekly calendar reminder that we are not in charge and we don’t control the universe, contrary to what our constant swiping and liking leads us to believe.

Practicing sabbath offers us the opportunity to turn worlds upside down and requires us to ask: How do we gain something by doing nothing? How do refill ourselves by emptying?

Dana, calming her “Monkey Mind” with a little stillness in the @WRAL gardens, in Raleigh, NC.

Whatever time you have—whether it’s one hour, one afternoon, or one day—sabbath is readily accessible to you. You do this by declaring your intention: “This morning, this hour, this afternoon, I will remember the sabbath and keep it holy by …” Then, whether we are napping, worshipping, using our prayer beads, sitting in silence, reading, serving others, or just enjoying a sit-down meal with family, friends, or strangers—we are sabbath-keeping. It’s the intention that counts.

For Sabbath’s Sake is a practical manual on the why and how of sabbath-keeping. After all it’s the why of a practice that keeps the how relevant.


How to Get Your Copy of For Sabbath’s Sake:

Bulk Orders: Upper Room Books provides bulk discounts on orders for churches, faith-based groups, and nonprofits. Considering order in bulk for your next congregational workshop, retreat, sermon series, Sunday School class, or small group. Call Upper Room Books Customer Service at 1-800-972-0433
Amazon: Order print and Kindle versions here.
NEW! Audiobook: Order here.
Barnes and Noble: Order here.
Cokesbury: Order here.
Walmart: Order here.

One Response to Be Still, For Sabbath’s Sake: A Q&A with Author J. Dana Trent

  1. Thank you for sharing so many beautiful, sensible, timely, and accessible thoughts and reflections on words and practices that I will now think differently about. Particularly – all things Sabbath. Of course Jesus was a sabbatarian, but who knew….before today?!
    Love to you both for all you’re doing – that matters.