5 Reasons to Rest in the Bible

God designed us to work—but, He also designed us to rest! Let’s explore what God says about rest in the Bible, and understand how to rest without guilt.

finding rest in the Bible

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Confession time: I’m really great at “taking it easy”.

Blame it on chronic health issues that sap my energy, so that I pretty much have to cut myself slack. Eight hours of sleep are mandatory, and naps are not a luxury, but a necessity. And try as I might, I just can’t go-go-go and do everything I would like.

So, I rest. And of course, I try really hard to be productive and efficient the remainder of the time, because I too feel the pressure to keep up!

But maybe for you, resting is harder to justify. You’re feeling the pressure to get work done, feed your family, plus all the other self-inflicted demands and aspirations (look great, outdo the neighbors, keep up with five different tv shows…). There’s only 24 hours in a day, and you’re supposed to rest at least 1/3 of that, but you feel guilty about it when there are still so many things to be accomplished.

And yet, God made it clear in His Word, how important it is for us to rest! Of course God designed us to work, but He also designed us to need rest. Not only to get enough sleep, or take a day off from work each week, but also just to rest in the Lord—to be still in His presence!

Yes, the importance of rest in the Bible cannot be understated. And even modern science has proven that getting enough sleep, taking breaks, and even napping, are all so beneficial.

What does rest mean in the Bible?

If you think about it, it makes sense that our need for rest—the fact that we can’t just keep going and going forever—reminds us of our dependence on God. Our Father in heaven created us to need rest, not just in the physical sense, but spiritually too. The meaning of rest in the Bible is centered on the fact that we need God!

Even the phrase “rest in the Bible” has a deeper meaning: 1st) What does the Bible say about rest?, and 2nd) We find our spiritual rest in the Bible! God’s Word has all the truth, instruction, comfort, love, and guidance we need, for every season of life.

Jesus said it best:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

rest in the Lord - Psalm 65:5

5 Reasons to Rest in the Bible

Still, you might be thinking, “It’s so hard to slow down, and actually prioritize rest, when there is so much to be done!” I hear you, I really do. In spite of being well-practiced in the nap department, I still find myself wanting to be busy-busy, stay up a little later, get up a little earlier, and/or keep pressing on even when I’m obviously running out of ‘juice’.

It may help to remember, that it’s important to have a balance! There are plenty of verses about both work and rest in the Bible, and the value and necessity of each. These truths about rest in the Bible will remind you of why it’s so essential to rest…

1) Even God rested on the 7th day!

Nothing underscores the importance of rest in the Bible, like the fact that God Himself rested! Obviously God doesn’t NEED rest, but He still considered it important to stop and take a day of rest in the Bible, to pause and reflect on His new Creation. And, to set a precedent for us!

Even just from a practical standpoint, it makes sense to pause and rest from our labors. Rest gives us the opportunity to spend time with God, with family, with our community, and also: to recharge our energy! God definitely didn’t create us to work nonstop without any rest; He created us to need downtime.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Genesis 2:2-3 (NIV)

“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 your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 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 20:8-11 (NIV)

2) Jesus rested too!

I love how many rest verses in the Bible can be found in the four gospels. Jesus certainly did a LOT in His time on earth (teaching, miracles, and so forth), but that didn’t mean He never took time to rest. We have to remember, Jesus is God, but in His time on earth, He was also fully human. One of my favorite Bible stories, in fact, is when Jesus was sleeping in the middle of a raging storm…

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:37-41 (NIV)

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Mark 6:31 (NIV)

Jesus knew that the demands on His time were endless—and there were definitely some occasions when He had to step away from the crowds in order to rest. So, how much more important is it for us mere humans, to block out time in our schedules for rest?

morning sunrise

3) Rest replenishes/refuels your tank

Whether you rest in the Bible, soaking up the spiritual nourishment God offers, or you rest in the physical sense, you can’t put a price on the replenishment that you receive from that! We surely need physical and spiritual rest, to get back up and be refreshed and renewed to work for the Lord each day.

King David had plenty to say, about how he found that much needed rest in the Lord…

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.

Psalm 4:8 (NLT)

4) Rest humbles you before God

Do you ever struggle to stop striving (for accomplishment, money, etc.)? Like, it’s tempting to work, work, work, just to make a name for yourself? And then realize that all your efforts came to nothing? I think we’ve all been there.

I think perhaps one reason God designed us to need rest, is that rest humbles us. We can’t keep going endlessly; at some point, we need to rest… and that leaves us dependent upon God. (Especially for those of us with chronic health conditions that limit even further how much we can do in a day). These rest Scriptures in the Bible remind us of the pitfalls of toiling away at worldly pursuits, and how we need to rely on the Lord:

Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NIV)

Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

Bible study and coffee

5) Resting in God’s Word is how you grow

Finally, to find rest in the Bible, is to rest in God’s promises. It’s certainly possible to have all the physical rest we need, but still be weary in the spiritual department (and vice versa). So, as you prioritize sleep and time off from work, be sure to also prioritize time in God’s Word…

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
Romans 15:4 (NLT)

The instructions of the LORD are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the LORD are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are clear,
giving insight for living.
Reverence for the LORD is pure,
lasting forever.
The laws of the LORD are true;
each one is fair.

Psalm 19:7-9 (NLT)

The importance of rest in the Bible is clear: We are to rest in the Lord, to depend on Him, and give Him honor and glory. Of course, there is plenty to be said about working diligently to honor God, but how can we work diligently unless we also take time to rest? (And, how can we rest unless we’ve made the effort to work diligently?) We need a balance of both.

I do hope these reasons to rest have inspired you to think more about WHY it’s good to rest, and that you’re motivated to carve out time in your busy schedule for it. Make the effort to get enough sleep, to pause from your labors as God did, and just be still before the Lord. And I pray you’ll be renewed and refreshed for each new day in your journey!

2 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Rest in the Bible”

  1. Thank you so much Barbara may God increase you
    Here in my country we are having the longest holiday as we celebrate the death of our retired president he is being laid to rest today and on Sunday we are having a holiday but here in our country we cannot put a Holiday on a Sunday because God has already made it for His people to be a resting day and on Monday there was a holiday for the Muslims and again we can’t fix two holidays in one day so one has to be postponed to Tuesday

    And here God has used you in a mighty way to bring such a powerful good massage and may God bless you

    1. Hi Eric, that is so interesting that your country doesn’t have holidays on Sundays. I’m so grateful and humbled to be of service, and glad you enjoyed the message.

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