September 06, 2014
Where would I go? And 7 other questions answered by the pastors of Resurrection
Shel Arensen, author of Come Away: How to Have a Personal Prayer Retreat, gives three reasons:
We might add to this list: “4. Quieting your soul." Author Ruth Haley Barton tells of hitting a difficult time in her busy life. A wise person told her, “Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear."
Does that picture describe you? Then you, like she, might recognize “an invitation to be still and know beyond my addiction to noise, words, people and performance-oriented activity."
No two people will organize a prayer retreat in the same way. There is no formula. Here are some options:
If you want more structure for your prayer retreat, Alone with the Lord: A guide for a personal day of prayer, by Gordon T. Smith, lays out 4 simple prayer sessions during a day that runs from 8am to 5pm. Or you might use this guide based on the writings of Brother Lawrence.
There is no one way, but you might start by talking to God about some of these questions--and listening for his response: What am I bringing into this retreat? What is my physical condition lately? What concerns and questions have been occupying my mind? What am I celebrating? What am I wondering about? Where do I hurt? Where have I seen God at work? What do I think God is inviting me into?
Many people feel that way, but most finish a prayer retreat thinking, “I wish I'd had more time." For your first retreat, try 2 hours or 4 hours. Then try a full day, from 8am to 5pm. Then try overnight.
Some place with quiet, beauty, and some privacy. In the file attached below, we've listed 15 retreat centers close to Rez. It should be a place that makes you feel alive, and that allows you to unplug from daily demands. If you can't afford a retreat center, or can't stand the thought of being alone, you might try Cantigny, the Morton Arboretum, the chapel at the Billy Graham Center, or a corner in a library or coffee shop.
Most Christians are better at hearing from God than they think they are. Write down what you think you're hearing, and then share that with a pastor or mentor.
Sure. Spend part of the day praying alone, and part of the day praying with each other.
Lay down any expectation that you have “a really spiritual day" or “God will really meet you." You can tell the Lord what you need from Him, but go in with the primary goal to be close to Him. Don't expect dramatic, visible “results." Usually, prayer retreats have a quiet influence that may be more noticeable in days to come.
If you go in open, listening, and desiring God, you will be met by God.
Note: as of 2017 the Loretto Center is no longer in operation.