I am posting this blog entry on Thursday evening, because tomorrow I will be on retreat.
We all lead very busy, noisy lives. Sometimes the lists of things to do and the noise fill our heads to the point where prayer and time reading and meditating on scripture becomes impossible. We are tired, but we are not sure why. We are distracted, and we don’t even know for sure what is drawing our attention. We get no real joy from our time spent in prayer or in scripture. It’s just one more “thing to do.” The truth is, we get no real joy from anything.
Time for a retreat!
A retreat is not a vacation, or a day off. A retreat is simply a day, or more, set aside to spend time in quiet to pray, listen, read scripture, and rest. It can be a time of self-examination if that is needed, or a time of preparation before a significant life change or challenge. Whatever the reason, the main purpose of a spiritual retreat is to draw closer to God, and to find true rest in God’s presence. The result will be a renewal of energy, focus, and closeness to God.
Jesus understood this. In the first chapter of Mark’s gospel he describes one very busy day in the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus taught in the synagogue, drove out demons, and healed the sick. And then, after the rest of his exhausted crew had gone to bed, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) Later, when his disciples came looking for him, he was recharged and ready to go preach to the rest of the villages, saying “this is why I have come” (Mark 1:38). Jesus used his time away to pray, and to renew his energy for what he was to do.
An ancient description of prayer says that “prayer is the conversation of the heart with God.” Taking time away for a retreat is a way to find the quiet that will open our spirits to that conversation. You can take a retreat on your own, or go to a retreat center that offers someone to guide you. There are books and guides to follow if that is more comfortable for you, or you can simply take your Bible and journal. If you would like suggestions for structuring a personal retreat time, or resources for planning your retreat, contact Pastor Michael Maroon (email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we would be glad to help.
It is my prayer that each of you reading this blog will plan and take a personal retreat sometime soon. Let us know how it went!