(Rhythm of Life Pendulum)

How did Jesus spend his time and what did he model about the place of work, rest and prayer in life?


Take a look at the following passages of Scripture and note anything of interest to you.

Mark 1:35-39 (Jesus rises early to pray)

Luke 5:15-16 (Jesus withdraws from the crowds to pray)

Mark 6:30-46 (Jesus retreats with his followers then feeds the 5,000)


What do you notice about Jesus’ rhythm (or habit) of work, rest and time out with God?

Does anything challenge or surprise you about Jesus’ example?



A teacher walks into a classroom and sets a glass jar on the table. He silently places 2-inch rocks in the jar until no more can fit. He asks the class if the jar is full and they agree it is. He says, ‘Really,’ and pulls out a pile of small pebbles, adding them to the jar, shaking it slightly until they fill the spaces between the rocks. He asks again, ‘Is the jar full?’ They agree. So next, he adds a scoop of sand to the jar, filling the space between the pebbles and asks the question again. This time, the class is divided, some feeling that the jar is obviously full, but others are wary of another trick. So he grabs a jug of water and fills the jar to the brim, saying, ‘If this jar is your life, what does this experiment show you?’ A bold student replies, ‘No matter how busy you think you are, you can always take on more.’

‘That is one view,’ the teacher replies. Then he looks out at the class making eye contact with everyone, ‘The jar is your life. We all have the same 24 hours in each day as everyone else does. It is a matter of what we will fill it with. The rocks are the truly important things, such as family, health and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the remaining “small stuff” and material possessions. If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important.’


What do you consider ‘rocks’ that need to be prioritised in your life?



The Rhythm of Life Pendulum illustrates the healthy pattern or rhythm of life that includes times for work, rest and timeout with God.

A healthy life is like a pendulum swinging back and forth between Rest, Time alone with God and Work.

If we work too much the pendulum is in danger of swinging beyond the top line, leading to it malfunctioning and even breaking entirely.

The same could be said for resting too much and having the pendulum swing beyond the top line on the other side.

If all we did was spend time alone with God then we would be at a standstill as we would not be taking time to apply what he commands us to do in the rest of our life.

It is most common for overworking to be an issue rather than over resting or spending too much time alone with God. If we work until we drop, rest and time alone with God then becomes emergency recovery. We need a healthy pattern of rest and time alone with God which prepares us for the work God has in store for us to do.

[Shape adapted from Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen (3dm, 2011)]


What do you think the Holy Spirit saying to you about having a good rhythm of work, rest, and time out with God?

Are there any elements that you sense you are overemphasising or neglecting?


So What?

Get together in smaller groups and share what you each find helpful to form a habit of getting regular time alone with God.

Now spend 10 minutes alone and practice having time with God. If you have never taken time to spend alone with God, use the following 10 minute outline.

Settle down with God: Take some time to be still and aware of His presence (1 minute)

Listen to God: Read something slowly from the Bible and note down thoughts in a journal (5 minutes)

Speak to God: Talk to God about how your last 24 hours has gone. Thank and praise him, confess any wrongdoing and ask for help. (3 minutes)

Look ahead with God: Summarise your thoughts into a prayer for the day (1 minute)

[Adapted from Brian Blacklock, Time Out With God: Taking the Time to Grow (The Navigators UK, 2015).]


Come back together and share your experiences with each other.

Discuss together how you could help each other form and maintain a habit of spending time alone with God over the next month.


Grow Further

Memory Verse:

Matthew 11:28-30

‘“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.”’

Other Bible passages:

Other resources:

Video: Alone with God and his Word

Video: Bill Hybles – Where’s your chair?

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