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Want to take your own spiritual retreat? Here are some ideas to get started.
I think we’d all agree this world is busy and the need to retreat from time to time is becoming more and more imperative. As I’m writing this, we’re approaching Easter, which is usually a time of contemplation for many Christians around the world. What better way to renew yourself than to create your own spiritual retreat?
You don’t have to go to a retreat center for the weekend. You don’t even have to leave your home. I’ll give you some ideas of what I do which you can adapt to your own needs and lifestyle.
Before I get started, I want you to know I’m writing from my own experience as a Christian and follower of Jesus for these spiritual retreat ideas. I’ve used these throughout my life and often have incorporated elements into my normal creative retreats as well.
How to Take a Spiritual Retreat
Get away to a quiet place. This can mean one or two things. You can get up earlier than anyone in your home (which means quiet in my world!) or you could walk or drive to a quieter place. I recommend steering away from coffee shops or areas where you’ll be distracted for spiritual retreats. Many people find nature to be restful, so consider where you could go to incorporate nature into your retreat. (A park, a nature preserve, a quiet part of the beach . . .)
Bring a few items, but not too many. A Bible, notebook, pen, water, snack, and a devotional to guide you are probably all you need. If you bring too many items, you might spend the whole time sorting through them instead of giving yourself time to think and pray. (Ahem, written from experience.)
A question. You might discover this question in your initial reading, but it’s always good to go into a retreat with a thought or question. What do you need right now? What do you want to learn?
It’s good to have a bit of structure to your retreat, even if it is very loose. You want to end your retreat feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, not rushed and frustrated because you were side-tracked.
Here’s a simple schedule for a spiritual retreat:
- Drive/walk to destination.
- Pray to start your retreat.
- Journal to write down your needs and what you’re hoping to learn.
- Read a Psalm and then another passage in the Bible.
- Take time to let the words sink in—journal about them. You can also write specific verses you’d like to remember on index cards.
- Enjoy a snack and drink some water.
- Go on a walk and pray.
- Write out the main point that you learned.
- Finish retreat, and go home.
Digging Deeper . . .
Here are some additional ideas and resources that will help you on your retreat. Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel in order to hear from God. He wants to meet with you!
Reading the Psalms
I like to start with a Psalm or two. Here are some favorites:
Psalm 145: Speaks of God’s love and care for us.
Psalm 91: Is helpful when you’re dealing with fear and need comfort.
Psalm 139: To remind yourself how God made you unique and for a purpose.
After I’m finished reading, I write in my journal about what I’m learning. The Bible is God speaking to us. My journal writing is me speaking back.
For example, if I read Psalm 23, instead of writing, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . .” I write, “Lord, thank you for watching over me like a Shepherd who takes care of his sheep. Thank you that you give me everything I need. . .” I tend to write more than that, but you get what I mean. :)
You might find yourself wanting to stay in the Psalms rather than reading another part of the Bible. That’s absolutely fine. I would suggest reading a page from Ruth Meyer’s 31 Days of Praise and looking up the verses in context. (She takes verses and weaves them together to form a prayer.) Kenneth Boa’s book, Face to Face is similar and will help you use Scripture to dive deeper in prayer.
Both of these books are incredibly encouraging, and I highly recommend them. My copies are well-used, and I’ve gifted both of these books to friends for years.
Finding Hope for a Struggle
If there is a particular issue you’re struggling with or needing clarity in, search in the back of your Bible for verses that speak to that. (i.e. fear, loneliness)
You might enjoy a book that has verses separated by topic. You can read each verse in the topic’s section, and then read the context in the Bible that you bring along. This is particular helpful if you’re looking for an answer to a specific topic, i.e., “What does God say about . . .?”
Read a book from someone who’s been there
I love reading books by Christian authors who love the Lord and who are honest about the struggles we have in life. One in particular that I think you would love is by Chrystal Evans Hurst. It’s called, “She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl In You.” Each of the chapters in this book dives into who you are made to be, how we lose track of our purpose, and encouragement on how to get back on track.
She includes thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter along with Scripture references you can look up while you’re on your retreat. This is one of those books that will take time for you to go through, but it’s a great way to jumpstart your retreat (and spiritual life!)
Going on a spiritual retreat is a great way to take a break from the go-go-go of life, and it has also helped me immensely when I’m making a big decision. Taking the time to pray, write, and walk helps me to process my thoughts and really listen to the Lord.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you. Let me know in the comments if you plan to take a spiritual retreat in the coming weeks!
Have an amazing day, friends.