by Jenny Wall, Spiritual Director
Retreat in the context of the Christian spiritual life is taking time apart for the purpose of being with God and giving God our full attention.
Many are interested and even long for such an experience but don’t think they have time to go on retreat. Taking time away from work, family, and other responsibilities to spend time with God is countercultural.
When is it time for a retreat? Ruth Haley Barton, in her book Invitation to Retreat identifies times in life to take a retreat as the following:
- When withdrawal, as in a military sense, is necessary due to wounds sustained in the battle of life. On retreat one can give God time to tend to wounds, rest, pray and get a better view of what is going on to be able to go forward in new ways.
- Those who serve God’s kingdom in some official or unofficial capacity are on the front lines of spiritual battles. Perhaps the battle seems different from what it used to be and temptations are mounting. Withdrawal to notice where our lives are in danger so we can regain strength for our spiritual life and ministry is needed when this is the case.
- When one is filled with weariness that can’t be shaken. Being dangerously tired is a sign that rest is critical or it can become a more serious problem for the mind, body or soul. On retreat one can rest with God and replenish both physical and spiritual strength.
- When one has a decision to make and needs time to discern God’s voice in the matter.
Someone once said they go on regular personal spiritual retreats because “I think God likes it when I do.” Whether you identify with any of the reasons above or you simply sense a desire to spend unhurried time with God, you are invited to experience a personal retreat.
I organize retreats periodically and host them at Abiding Place in Eureka, Kansas. I am also available to lead retreats for small groups. If you are interested in being contacted when we have a retreat scheduled or in discussing a retreat for your group, please indicate so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you aren’t sure yet whether a retreat is for you, consider that Jesus himself often left the crowds or went away with his disciples to pray and rest. An example is found in Mark 6:30-32 (NIV);
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Will you say yes to the invitation to retreat?