My Half-Day With God
Preparation the Day Before
– Pick your spot
Think of a place that is quiet…away from buildings and people. You may not want to choose a monastery (this takes more advance panning!) but a short walk to a quiet glade of trees or even a private park bench. Don’t be too ambitious…pick a place where you can get still and relaxed quickly. It is funny how the mind will try complicate things or postpone quiet mediation with distractions.
– Get good nights sleep – so you don’t fall asleep while you pray
– Prepare what to take:
Pen and Highlighter
Notebook or journal
Snack or picnic lunch
Pillow (for prayer not for sleep!)
Blanket (if cold or outdoors to sit/lay on
Optional – Guitar and almost any book by either Henri Nouwen, John Ortberg or Gordon MacDonald (or Spiritual Life for the Overbusy if you can find it)
Before you leave
Have a good healthy breakfast…or fast intentionally for the purpose of growing your faith (no “Brownie” points earned with God here), drinking only water until the retreat is done
– When you arrive – Turn off your cellphone.
1. Get comfortable but not in a position where you could fall asleep.
2. Thanksgiving – write a list of twenty five things you are thankful to God for. Lift each one to God in prayer, thanking Him!
3. Praise – read psalm 145 all of the way through. Now read it again, but this time out loud.Read it as an exclamation of worship to God…with enthusiasm! Don’t be self conscious…it is only you and Him together!
4. Meditation – Read Psalms 139 one verse at a time and then take notes/reflect on each verse whenever anything seems important to you. This exercise could/should take the better part of an hour or longer.
5. Repentance – this always will occur and may happen after step 2 or 3 as well. When you stop the craziness and be alone with God, He will bring things to mind that He has wanted for you to see about your life. For many of us humans, this is a subconscious reason why we may stay so busy!
Memories may be triggered to let you know you need to confess your attitude or actions as sin before Him. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). The Father may even bring someone to mind that you will need to go to in order to ask them to forgive you. Write that down along with the things you confess to Him. We are told in the bible to come “boldly before the throne of grace” to find mercy (Hebrews 4:15-16) and that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)
5. Listening – be still now before Him. Take 3-4 slow deep breaths, imagining God’s spirit coming into you with his refreshing presence. Invite God to speak (He uses quiet whispers) to your heart. “Practice” His presence for 20 minutes this time…maybe kneeling or even laying out on your face before God. Have your notebook handy for two reasons;
a) Your meditations from Psalm 139 can inspire you to think on Him
b) If you get a random thought (and you will) don’t be discouraged. Simply write it down, and then return to silent listening.
5. Change your body – invite your body to a god stretch 9like in the gym) or get up, have a drink and take a short walk, continuing in silence and meditative thought.
6. Return to reading, this time, try reading any of the passages below, taking personal notes that speak to your life:
Genesis 1-3; John 1-3; I Corinthians 13; Ephesians 6; Matthew 13
7. Re-enter into the stillness of focusing on his presence. This time, only listen. Still your mind to only think on Him and His presence around you. Then imagine Him flowing into you.
Finally, imagine you flowing into Him and being lost in His embrace and the being of His all accepting love. Ask God to fill you and then imagine yourself being filled with the Holy Spirit, abiding there for another 10 or 15 minutes…or longer if you can
8. Sit or stand up and get relaxed again. Stretch one more time and take 3-4 deep breaths.
9. Reflections – write down any notes about what you felt or heard during this time. Are there some things you’d like to change about your life or your practice of prayer? Make an appointment to come back again…or to set aside a full day (or even two days) to be alone with God again in your calendar. Don’t let anything change your resolve to making that appointment. Like it was with Jesus and his Father, there is never a higher priority than to be alone with God.
Warning: Satan will do anything he can to bring distractions into your life to try to have you make a choice to do something good versus the great thing of staying true to your time alone with God.
In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, by Henri Nouwen, Crossroad, 1992
Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald
When Men Think Private Thoughts, Gordon MacDonald
Spiritual Direction and Meditation, by Thomas Merton, The Order of St. Benedict, Inc., 1960
Spiritual Life for the Overbusy, by David Baumann (out of print but possible to find used…and a 76 page treasure!)
The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, Thomas Nelson 2009
The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg
Private Retreat Centers and Monasteries
Holy Trinity, St. David Arizona (Charismatic Catholic) Benedictine,
St. Augustine’s House, Oxford, Michigan, (248) 628-5155
Assumption Abbey, Ava, MO Remote Ozark Mountain Location, Trappist Monastery, (Thomas Merton Style) (417) 683-5110