I need to take a few hours to talk to God this evening, so this post is a re-run from January 2007, when I edited Pray! magazine. It’s on the topic I’ve been writing on the past few weeks–prayer retreats. I hope you find it encouraging.
I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that the previous four months had been the most difficult in my entire life (though even more difficult months would follow). At the time, my husband’s already advanced MS had taken a decided turn for the worse, landing him in the hospital for five weeks and leaving me with a mountain of bills to pay, legal issues to resolve, caregiving arrangements to make, and complex emotions to sort through. I divided my time between work, the hospital, insurance companies, attorneys, social workers, financial planners, and our only son, who was getting ready for his freshman year of college. It didn’t leave much time for anything else–even sleep.
Ironically, during this time the theme on prayer retreats had been scheduled for the magazine I edited. Although for many years it had been my habit to get away with the Lord at regular intervals, during this particular season of my life it seemed an impossibility. But the timing served as a reminder that in times like these, I need to get away more than ever.
I’ve found that the more complicated life becomes, the more essential it is for me to carve out focused time in God’s presence. Prayer retreats are not a luxury for me. They are a necessity, a matter of survival. My life is too stressful to get by with only snatches of prayer throughout the day. I need extended, concentrated time with my heavenly Father. I am desperate for His wise, compassionate, and tender care and guidance to help me navigate these challenges and to keep me sane and spiritually healthy in the process.
For me, that kind of soul-restoring, wisdom-imparting interaction is most likely to occur when I have relaxed time to sit with God, share with Him, and wait on His response. In those times He leads me beside still waters, restores my soul, and guides me in paths of righteousness. That kind of communication doesn’t ordinarily happen in my too-hurried morning quiet times or when I shoot arrow prayers up to Him throughout the day.
So I took a day off from work the next day and made arrangements on the home front so that I could retreat with the Lord for 24 hours of prayer immersion. In a time when a prayer retreat seemed like something I couldn’t fit in, it was actually a necessity I couldn’t do without. I hope that it will become a precious necessity for you as well.
For more about how to plan your own getaway with God, see my book, Come Away with Me.