The Personal Retreat

“He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 HCSB)

Several years ago I served a church in a bivocational ministry. Working 50 hours per week in an environmental consulting firm, I lived for the additional 20 hours I spent doing outreach leadership and visitation in the church. Very quickly I learned how fast the “inner well” could run dry.

I was irritable at home and impatient at work. Something had to change.

One day I took off a few hours early and went to an empty Sunday School classroom at the church. Taking only my Bible and journal along, I sat and read and prayed and wept as the Lord refreshed and redirected my heart.

The personal retreat has since become a life habit embraced and carried out every 3-4 months (in fact, it’s time to do it again soon). Getting away for 1-3 days alone with the Lord clears my mind and renews my vision for what He wants me to be doing at home and in ministry. I always return with a handful of adjustments to make in my life.

Sometimes I have to go ask forgiveness from someone or work on a specific relationship. At other times I need to make spaces in my schedule for a new habit he wants me to develop or a new activity He wants me to engage in. The directions are always practical and concrete.

A study of the life of Christ reveals a rhythm of public advances and private retreats that enabled the Lord to walk closely and consistently in step with His Father. If Jesus Christ my Lord had to retreat for prayer and quiet hours with the Father, how can I expect to get by doing less?

Be like Jesus… get away and get alone once in awhile!

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