Have you thought about how to create a personal prayer retreat for extended times with God. Not long ago the Lord kept putting the idea of a prayer retreat on my mind. I had never been on one personally, but I began to become interested and decided to do more research on the subject. What I found is that prayer or silent retreat with God is like an extended meditation. During a prayer or silence retreat, which can last from 8 hours to many days, we stop everything and give our full attention to the Lord.
.A Personal Prayer Retreats help us to re-center and fortify our foundation in Christ. When we’re being pulled in so many directions, we may become fragmented, losing our clear focus and purpose. We begin to play catch up, trying to put out fuses, or just keep our heads above water. We become reactive instead of proactive. The principles of God, that we have built our life upon, become a little shaky and we begin to rely on our own human understanding instead of divine wisdom. Striving replaces resting in Christ and often times, over exhaustion of our minds and physical bodies set in. In other words, we become a hot mess mentally, physically, and spiritually.Prayer or silently retreats help us to reconnect with God on a spiritual level. We’re not just learning or hearing about God, we are experiencing God by learning to spend time in His presence. You will be surprised that the only materials you need for a prayer or silent retreat is a willing heart and a private location with uninterrupted time. You may want to have your Bible or even a journal handy but those are required. It’s a time to forfeit all of our “doings” and focus on “being”-being still and knowing God. It is time allowed for God to minister to you like he did for Elijah as he said under the broom tree (Read 1 Kings).
During that time God provided for Elija
h’s physical needs as he slept for many days to regain his strength. Therefore, your prayer or silently retreat may include a time of physical rest and sleep with good nutrition or even fasting. God never intended for us to neglect our physical needs and good health. Nurturing our bodies and attending to our physical needs doesn’t make us less holy, in fact, when we’re not at our optimal health, our mental and spiritual lives suffer as well. It is important to maintain balance and holistic approach to our health and well-being.So the question remains, what does a prayer or silent retreat entail. First decide how long you want to spend on your retreat. If this is your first one and you are feeling a little daunted, I suggest a day retreat or 8 hours. As you become more comfortable with spending time alone with God, increase it to fill a whole weekend, from Friday night to Sunday evening. Also ask God what you need and follow your heart.
Sometimes 8 hours just won’t be enough but it is a good start.Next, decide on a location. Unless you live alone and you know you’re disciplined enough to avoid the distractions of the phone, television, or other activities, its best to plan your retreat away from home. You could try to find a local retreats center that will provide you with a room for a minimal fee or you can go to a hotel room. If possible, have the television removed during your stay. Another suggestion is swapping households with a single friend. This may work only if you both live alone. If you’re planning a day retreat only, go to a park that provides some private or secluded areas. Recently I discovered the Alta Biblical Gardens in Grass Valley that includes acres of flowing streams, foliage entries, Biblical statues and an abundance of seeded areas for meditation and contemplation.
A prayer or silent retreat is not a time for Bible study or anything associated with work or ministry. I emphasized is especially for pastors, ministers, or lay workers in the church, because they will have a tendency to use this time to catch up or prepare themselves in the service of others. It’s not a time to read spiritual books or listen to faith-based Cds either. Although all these tasks are necessary, during a prayer silently treat they act as distractions between you and God almighty. They get the way of communing with God on a personal level and interfere with a one-on-one with Him.So now that you have the logistics settled and the don’ts out of the way, how do you spend your time with God? Below is a list of suggestions of how you might spend an 8 hour retreat with God. You may choose to follow this exactly or choose only a few. God knows what you need, so allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Here are a few tips on creating a personal prayer retreat of your own.
1.Depending on how you are feeling physically, consider beginning your retreat with a short nap. This will help you to be refreshed and rejuvenated for your time with God. If this is a weekend retreat, spend Friday evening resting or sleeping to prepare yourself for the next day.
2.Meditate on the Word of God. You don’t want to have a Bible reading marathon on your retreat. Instead begin to meditate on God’s Word by selecting a passage to read out of your Bible. Continue reading until a word, phrase, or scripture stands out as a neon light. Begin to meditate on these words. Breathe these words in. Ask God to make them come alive to you. Contemplate about how these words relate to your daily life. Ponder about where you are not measuring up. Reflect upon how you can embrace these words more fully in your life. Spend as much time as you need ruminating on this word or passage.
3.Sit in silent anticipation of listening to God and hearing his voice.
4.Sing unto the Lord or play music that ushers you into the presence of God. I personally like the Katina’s Lifestyle Cd, 25 Instrumental Worship Songs, nature sounds music, or soft relaxation music. Sing to the lord and just imagine yourself in His presence, loving and ministering to you. You can also dance before the lord.
5.Pray in the spirit and with your understanding; intercede for others.6.Write a letter to God in your journal and record any truths God drops in your spirit.7.Let God write to you. Write down any words, inspirations, or messages that God may be saying to you. Don’t worry about it being your own thoughts, just let the Holy spirit speak through you.8.Dialogue with God just like you would a best friend. Talking out loud.
9.Take the prayer walk. Pay close attention to the details along the way. Thank God for all the wonderful things he has created. Be fully present by focusing only on the here and the now.
10.Meditate. Select a word or scriptural phrase that you can use to sit in silence before the Lord. Every time your mind begins to wander off, think about your word or phrase. This will help you to quiet your thoughts and gain control over compulsive thinking or play a guided Christian meditation Cd. Better yet, record several guided meditations to a ipod or musical device.
Please note that spending time alone with God and extended times of silence and solitude is foreign to many believers. During this time, you may find many emotions including fear and anxiety surfacing. You might even feel like you’re going to lose your mind. Most times we deny or hide these feelings with distractions like work or television, but without these diversions we are faced to look them square in the eye. As they surface, instead of avoiding or burying them, embrace them and offer them up as a sacrifice to God. Cry if the feeling arises. Ask God to heal and cleanse you of your fears, sins, and inner pain. You will be amazed of the healing and cleansing that can take place when you acknowledge and offer your pain and fears to God. Denying them allows them to be a subconscious menace to our daily lives, so it’s best to deal with them and let them go.
Many people come away from a prayer or silent retreat with a renewed sense of God, greater clarity, and refreshed. Jesus himself took time daily to be alone with the Father and we should follow his example. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, confusion, stressed, or flustered, a personal silent or prayer retreat is just what you need to gain control and create greater balance.