Rhythms of Piety
by Jon Payne
Woven into the tapestry of God’s creation are the beautiful and instructive rhythms of nature. In the early days of creation, the Holy Spirit “hovered over the face of the waters” and brought light, order, and rhythm out of the darkness and watery chaos (Gen. 1:1–2).
God designed clear rhythms of time in creation. For example, each twenty-four-hour day—constituting one complete rotation of the earth on its axis—begins with the rising of the sun and ends after its setting. God ordained the weekly cadence of six days of labor and one day of sanctified rest. We also see rhythms of creation through the recurrent seasons and the cyclical ocean tides. Nature is teeming with rhythmic beauty, not only in matters related to time, but also in the ordinary lives of all His creatures. Everywhere we turn, there is evidence that our blessed triune God has created the world with order and rhythm.
It should be no surprise, then, that God designed the Christian life to possess rhythms of piety. These rhythms of piety include the weekly cadence of the Lord’s Day, as well as regular (even daily) times of private and family devotion (Westminster Confession of Faith 21.6).
The Lord’s Day has fallen on hard times. We need to recover the day that God Himself established to be a spiritual blessing to His church—a weekly occurrence of rest from our ordinary activities for the purpose of God-centered worship, renewal, and fellowship (Gen. 2:1–3; Ex. 20:8–11; Mark 2:27). Our loving heavenly Father set apart an entire day of the week for us to cease from our hectic schedules, to “be still, and know that [He is] God,” and to abide in Christ through the soul-nourishing means of grace (Ps. 46:10; Acts 2:42; WCF 21.5).
The weekly observance of the Sabbath— especially in the gathering of the church for morning and evening worship—is intended to be a primary rhythm of Christian discipleship in order that our faith might grow and mature (Ps. 92:1–2). It’s no wonder that Matthew Henry wrote, “The streams of religion run deep or shallow, according as the banks of the Sabbath are kept up or neglected.”
The rhythms of piety are not limited to the Lord’s Day, however. We also seek God during the week through regular Bible reading and prayer. A consistent rhythm of private and family devotions, in addition to weekly Lord’s Day observance, helps to foster a consistent and growing walk with the Lord (Deut. 6:7–9; Ps. 63; Mark 1:35; Eph. 6:4). To neglect these rhythms of piety can leave one vulnerable to the attacks of Satan, the seductive temptations of the world, and the sinful wanderings of our own hearts. The disciplines of grace are means by which we daily put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10–20). Dear Christian believer, perhaps it’s time to renew your commitment to the rhythms of piety.