Q and A with Author J. Dana Trent
—from the blog of author Kristen Vincent, originally posted in October 2017
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.
To buy a copy of For Sabbath's Sake, visit The Upper Room Bookstore
"A few years ago, my sister, Anna, and I had a club called the Awesome Club.We had short meetings in a walk-in closet with stuffed animals and dolls. It was fun, but it didn’t have a real purpose. One day we decided that it would really make the club awesome if we followed the Golden Rule and did something to help others." Read more.