1. a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy
2. a period of quiet rest and contemplation in a secluded place
Do you need one? Maybe you’re making some crucial decisions and you’re in need of wisdom. Maybe you’re going through some trials and you’re in need of spiritual strength. Maybe, like me, you just need to gain a renewed vision, a fresh perspective. To straighten out your priorities and do some inward organizing.
Where to Escape
Having a quiet place to concentrate on God is so important. I was lucky enough to have the house to myself, my family all away for the day. (This doesn’t happen very often!) A quiet house is ideal, but you could also go to a park or find a quiet corner in a coffee shop or library. Someplace free of distractions is probably best.
On the Agenda
Prayer – I started by spending some time in prayer just expressing to God what my desires for this time with Him were. (An open heart and a sensitive spirit to understand His truth, to gain a renewed vision for this chapter of my life, etc..)
Worship - Okay, this might not be a good idea unless you’re in a private place, but I put some worship music on and spent some time singing and praising God. It’s amazing how worship can change your perspective and put your heart in the right place!
Bible Reading – I spent some time reading from Psalms out loud, and then picked a book from the Bible to read through over the course of the morning/afternoon.
Journaling – I jotted down prayers, thoughts, and truths that stood out from God’s word to keep track of what I was learning and so I could look back on it afterwards for further insight.
Other Reading – A couple of articles that directly applied to an issue I was seeking wisdom in. These turned out to be so helpful and confirmed some things that were already brewing in my mind over the past while. (Thank you, Lord!)
Goal Setting/Decision Making – After all of the above, I took some time to go over specific things that I was seeking wisdom in (work, finances, other pursuits, etc.) and prayerfully made some decisions. This was a big thing for me – I'm usually one to second-guess my decisions but I really felt God’s peace in the decisions that I made. Of course, I’m open to further change. : )
I’m in no way trying to provide you with a model of what a “perfect spiritual retreat” should look like – I’m just sharing what worked well for me. Your retreat might look completely different than mine!
I took the morning and afternoon, which I found to be just the right amount of time. Mixing things up kept me alert and focused. (Hmmm..the coffee may have helped!) And don’t feel that you need to stay glued to your chair! Taking a short walk outside for part of my prayer time and moving to different areas of the house worked well for me.
I came away from this time feeling closer to God, confident in His leading in different areas, and with new energy to live for Him!
(I just want to point out though, that it's important not to measure the success of your time with God by your emotions or feelings. These can come and go, so don't put your confidence in them! Trust that God's doing a work in your heart as you read and meditate on His word. I was thankful that God gave me wisdom in some issues I was thinking about, but sometimes the answers don't come right away, and we're told instead to wait.)
I’d love to hear about your own personal retreat or any tips or ideas you might have!