Ministry by definition is depleting. We walk down the halls of our church and feel as if people are sticking vacuum hoses into us. Without intentional extended times for renewal, ministers implode as the pressure on the outside exceeds the structure on the inside to sustain spiritual and emotional health.
Taking a one or multi-day personal spiritual retreat on a regular basis can provide a solution. Regretfully, we are so unaccustomed to spending extended alone times with God we don’t know where to begin when we do set aside time for a spiritual retreat.
Thankfully, there is a lot of room for personal preference in communing and connecting with God. Below are 15 practices, though not exhaustive, may spark your own creativity in designing a customized spiritual retreat experience that is both rewarding and renewing.
15 Personal Spiritual Retreat Practices
1. Be. Take time to just be. Stop your busy pace. Take a walk or hike. This may take an hour or two. Let go of business and pressures. Make yourself available to God. Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10)
2. Thank. Sometimes the last to receive our thanksgiving is God. Vocalize the unspoken lists of things that He has done for you lately. Celebrate what He’s presently doing in your life. Note the times over the past year that God has provided for you, blessed you, and encouraged you.
3. Praise. Spend time praising God for who He is. Tell Him what you love about His character. Voice to Him what makes you in awe of Him as your God and King.
4. Confess. Make things right with God. Surrender your attitude, desires, and heart to Him. Ask God to break open your heart to Him. Sometimes ministry can make our hearts hard toward people—and God. Give God your cynicism, criticism, lust, pride, and fears. Ask Him to give you a new heart by His Spirit.
5. Pray for others. Imagine Jesus standing beside them. What would Jesus do for them?
6. Feed your mind. Ask your heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to bring powerfully the Word of God to your heart. Spend time in the Bible. Read a book of the Bible. Reflect on stories of Bible characters of great faith. Read from the great classical spiritual writers. Read from contemporary writers who speak to your heart.
7. Scripture Memorization. Work on hiding the Word of God in your heart.
8. Dialogue. List your life roles (for example, a disciple of Christ, spouse, parent, son, daughter, grandparent, neighbor, friend, minister, administrator, leader, etc.). Review your roles with God and what is happening in these roles right now. Write down the good things that God helped you to accomplish in each role over the past year. Ask God what He thinks needs to change in each of your roles. Ask God which one or two things you need to do in each role to be faithful to what He has entrusted to you.
9. Treasure Check. In light of Matthew 6:19-21, do a “treasure check” on your life. Based on your investments of your time, talents and treasure, what do you really value in life? Lay all this before the Lord, confessing and making life priority adjustments as needed.
10. Listen, plan, and reflect. Take breaks to hike, listen, and pray. Jot down reflections on what God brings to your mind in a journal. Spread out your reflections and convictions before God. Ask God for spiritual eyes to see and ears to listen to His good and perfect and pleasing will.
11. Claim God’s promises to accomplish His will. Read promises from God’s Word to encourage and build your faith and hope.
12. Take The Minister’s 20 Question Spiritual Health Assessment. Use these questions to monitor your spiritual gauges.
13. Take a nap. The word Sabbath means to cease and rest. It is OK to not be doing something every minute of your retreat.
14. Spiritual Disciplines. Stretch yourself. Try a spiritual practice or discipline with which you are unfamiliar or have never experienced.
15. Debrief. Find a prayer partner and share how God blessed you on your retreat. Share what you experienced, learned and discerned. Invite honest feedback. Ask him or her to pray that you will follow through with God’s leading in your life.
Posted on May 3, 2016