There have been some interest in my recent personal retreat and some questions. In this post, I shall share what I did. It is one of the many ways a person can make a retreat.
I took a 5 days personal retreat in the middle of August this year. This is not unusual as I have been making retreats for many years. My retreats are either guided (someone who directs the retreat and me) or self-guided. I prefer self-guided retreats but for someone who is new to retreats, I will suggest a guided retreat as there are certain inherent spiritual dangers in self guided retreats.
There are many reasons why I do a retreat. It may be to seek the Lord in some decision-making, spiritual dryness and times of desolation, times of extreme stress, life-events, empowerment for ministry, frustration and disappointments, soul care or just to enjoy uninterrupted time in His presence.
I take retreats in many locations but I love doing it in my own home. However, it takes more discipline take a retreat in your own home for the possibility of distraction is greater. To plan for a retreat, I usually plan ahead to block off time and take leave from my job. I also plan ahead as to the purpose of the retreat. For example, for this retreat my purpose is to listen to the Lord. I chose the Gospel of John as my main text and Gordon MacDonald’s Building Below the Waterline for my spiritual reading. Usually I journal my thoughts but this time I decided to mind-map on sheets of paper.
I start the day about 6am with a prayer of welcoming and centering prayer. I will sing the hymn which I have chosen which highlights the theme for the day and repeat this through the day.
Then I read the Gospel of John using lectio divina
. I also use lectio divina
to read MacDonald’s book, stopping at time to reflect and wait upon the Lord. I try to keep my environment as quiet as possible. I do not fast on my retreats as I find fasting usually become a distraction. Interspersed with the praying and reading is times when I will just sit quiet and be still. At other times, I pray the Jesus Prayer
. I usually end the day around 8pm when my family arrives home.
I find the time of reading and praying very refreshing and the presence of the Lord very powerful. These are many high wonderful mountain top experiences
. However there are times when I experience extreme anxiety and fear
(that’s why it is better to do guided retreat). This may be when the Holy Spirit performs surgery on my soul to drive out my ‘inner demons’. It may also be an attack from the Enemy. In a retreat there are good and bad moments but it is in such times of silence and solitude that soul-care takes place.
The later half of the final day is when I prepare for re-entry. I often find it jarring and disorienting to emerge from a retreat and come back to my present lifestyle. Therefore I take the time to slowly readapt.
This is how I did my retreat.
Will you will like to share your retreat experiences?