In terms of the spiritual battle we’re in according to the apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:12), retreat is necessary. The tension is that the word “retreat” can sometimes refer to being ineffective or even losing. That’s a tough pill to swallow! However, the world is noisy and in order to give space to listen to and experience God, as well as check in with ourselves and how we are doing mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, we must slow down or “pull away” from time to time. Jesus modeled this often! The invitation to retreat has never been so relevant, so needed, and so welcome. Consider it a “strategic withdrawal” in order to rest and delight in the Lord, gain perspective and set new strategies.
The discipline of retreat is pulling away from normal day to day activities to become more deeply grounded in God and to return to the life God has given us with renewed strength, joy and clarity. (It’s not to catch up on reading or email). Resting is also a part of retreat, which gives us energy to build our relationship with God, listen better, as well as notice how we are feeling.
Plan a time to retreat that will include detaching from productivity and technology in effort to remove distractions. Then determine your location by considering a space that will allow you to spend time with God in a quiet setting. Maybe it’s a retreat center, a family cottage, or your favorite outdoor trail. Once you set this plan, make it a priority!
Once you arrive at your destination, consider the following steps but note, there is no “one way” to retreat; do what’s most comfortable and beneficial for you.
- Take some deep breaths to center yourself.
- Begin with a conversation with God (prayer). Tell Him what you love about Him and what you are grateful for in this season of your life. Invite Him to speak to you today!
- Consider listening to one or more worship songs to turn your attention and hearts affection toward Jesus.
- Read a passage from Scripture a couple times and consider what it means to you. What does it say about God? What does it say about you as a human being? And how might God be asking you to respond?
- Take a nap! (Seriously, rest in the sweet presence of Jesus if you’re in a good location to do so).
- Take a walk and/or eat something.
- Reflect (and perhaps journal) on questions like:
- What are 3 words that describe how I am feeling right now?
- What do I need?
- What would my loving Heavenly Father say to me right now?
- Where is my life in danger right now?
- Does my involvement in ____ make me (and those around me) busier or better?
- Who is someone in my life in need of prayer?
- What has God said to me on this retreat that seems to be clear?
- What are 1-2 takeaways from today? (These could be revelations you’ve had, action steps you want to take, things you gained clarity in or want to be grateful for, etc.)
- Close your retreat in prayer.
Dallas Willard once said, “If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart after a while.” Your first step is to look at your calendar and choose a day and time frame to retreat. Maybe it’s just blocking out an hour or two for your first retreat if you feel you can’t do an entire day or extended days. The more you practice this spiritual discipline, the more you’ll desire to make it something you plan into your calendar just like other important commitments!