Does spending five uninterrupted hours with God sound impossible? Here's how.
Posted in , Nov 7, 2014
Today's post is by guest blogger and retreat leader Kasey Warren Hitt.
Does spending a half-day with God sound impossible? With a little planning, you'll be on your way.
Try five hours. When I began facilitating silent retreats, people could not imagine five hours of silence and prayer. Afterward, they could not imagine it being less than five hours!
Somewhere safe and quiet. Look up a nearby convent, retreat center, church, state park…or even a friend's house.
What to take?
Not much. Maybe a journal, Bible, book or article about prayer, but keep reading material to a minimum. Something creative, even child-like, might aid your praying, such as a coloring book, jigsaw puzzle or modeling clay.
What not to take?
This is equally important! Give yourself permission to be alone with God. Unplug. Start with entrusting everything and everyone you've left behind into God's care. If you arrive with a smart phone and to-do list, leave them in the car.
What to do?
Try to focus not on doing anything but on being with God. Observe your thoughts and emotions. Listen for his voice; he might invite you to rest, wrestle or even play.
Be patient with yourself. After stepping away from external noise, internal noise may be even louder!
While these distractions are normal, they don't have to be your retreat leaders! Let your body and imagination help you calm down and trust. Purposely tense and relax your muscles, breathe deeply and do everything slower.
Write or sketch distractions as a way of letting them go. Imagine thoughts and feelings being like clouds in the sky; they will pass even if some are darker or linger longer than others. If they persist, ask God, “What do you want to show me or say to me about this?” Then listen.
Most importantly, remember: You cannot fail. Simply accepting God's invitation and showing up is success. You might not feel as relaxed as you want to but that's okay. God wants to be with you exactly as you are...restful or restless! This in itself offers peace of mind and may even make you hunger for more than a five-hour retreat the next time.
Have you ever prayed for a half-day? Or longer? How did it go? What did you learn? What advice would you give?
Here are some additional resources: