I’ve recently realized a strange irony: I was more likely to schedule full-days of prayer with God my life was the busiest and most out of control (working full-time, caring for my husband who had end-stage multiple sclerosis, and homeschooling our teenaged son). Now that it’s only me and my two cats at home, prayer retreats are less commonplace. What’s up with that?
You’d think that the more discretionary time I had, the more likely I would be to devote some of it to leisurely times with God. But actually, the converse has proven true: the busier I am, the more desperate I am for time to connect with God, and so the more apt I am to make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. When I have more time available to me, however, for some reason, I am less likely to schedule a prayer retreat.
God reminded me of this yesterday when I spent a few hours in the morning with Him, looking back and looking ahead (see my blog from last week). When I asked Him what He wanted for me in the new year, He mentioned, among other things, that He missed our extended times of relaxed conversation together. So, with His help, I will set aside regular time to meet with Him like we used to. My goal is once every quarter, at least.
I wonder if God is also longing for some relaxed, leisurely time with you? In my book, Come Away with Me: Pray Magazine’s Guide to Prayer Retreats, I wrote about telltale signs that indicate when it’s time for a prayer retreat (pages 60 and 61). Here they are:
You know it’s time for a prayer retreat when . . .
- You’re dry and out of touch with the Lord
- You feel overwhelmed, overworked, stressed, or scattered
- You feel mechanical in your devotion and service
- You have an important decision to make
- You have a sinful habit to overcome
- You have a person or people you need to forgive
- You need God’s perspective on a situation
- You have a strategic ministry event or season ahead
- You need insight about an unanswered prayer
- You’re behind in intercession and others are depending on you
- You haven’t had one in three months or more
- Your spouse, teenager, roommate, colleague, or dog tells you that you need one.
Not surprisingly, several items on the list apply to me. But I’m happy to say that I’m doing something about it.
How about you? Is it time that you get away alone with God? If you make a regular practice of personal prayer retreats, I’d love to hear from you. What do you do with the time? How does God meet you? Also, if you’re interested in getting a copy of my book, let me know. Discounted prices are available.