Maybe you know the feeling. The days are too short and the demand for your time is overwhelming. You rush from one thing to the next and often fall into bed at the end of your waking hours, exhausted.
Even when you spend time with God, the next thing on your list is hovering in the background. We struggle to switch off and connect with the One who created us.
Enter the silent retreat: A quiet place to shut away the world, for an hour or a day, and spend time in the presence of God.
What is a silent retreat?
It may seem obvious you’re required to be silent during a silent retreat, but a few more details might be helpful.
Your silent retreat may be many things. While some silent retreats are really only about not speaking, others may include guided meditation. As retreats go, there are short retreats and long retreats. Virtual retreats can be done online, from the comfort of your own home, or you can go away to a camp or retreat center. Some retreats are strict, and others, less so. Some retreats might provide worship, teaching, small group discussion, prayer support and godly counsel.
More than just being silent, a silent retreat is an opportunity to reflect, find rest in God and process what you are thinking calmly and productively. It takes you away from the stresses and the busyness of everyday living.
The idea behind a silent retreat is to channel your attention toward inner and upper contemplation. A silent retreat pushes back the world and creates intentional time with you and your Father. You will emerge physically and spiritually refreshed.
Should I take a silent retreat?
Yes, definitely. You may want to consider a silent retreat if you have been spiritually weary. Perhaps you’re feeling empty-hearted and there is a yearning in you for something more. We have an infinite Father; there is always more.
It may be the Lord prompting you, inviting you to come closer and to rest in His presence. Even Jesus often went away to pray in solitude. When was the last time you took time for just the two of you?
A typical silent retreat day
A whole day in silence may seem like a long time if you are not used to being still before God. It’s recommended you create plan to give rhythm to your time of solitude. This retreat by Levaire may be done across seven hours, one hour per lesson. You may choose to do those seven hours in a single day or you may opt to do one hour per day for a week.
An extended silent retreat can entail typical ordinary things such as sleeping, bathing or eating. These mundane activities can be enjoyed anew when you’re walking in God’s presence. You can experience the familiar in new ways.
However, don’t be afraid to let God lead you into new experiences. Perhaps you’ve never just sat and looked at a flower. Maybe you’ve never prayed aloud. If you have never walked with God through a forest, why not add that to your day? You may get up at dawn or stay awake long into the night. Be creative in planning your silent retreat, but also be open to go where God wants to take you. Let your focus be simply to be with Him.
Here are some additional elements you could add to your silent retreat:
- Reading the Bible
- Private prayer
- Private worship
- Take communion
- Taking a nap (no, really)
- Write gratitude notes
- Spend time in nature and soak in God’s creation
- Just sit still and lift your heart to Him
Cancelling Public Enemy #1: “I don’t have time”
When you feel there is no time to get close to God, it is probably the time you most need to connect with Him. Practicing silence and solitude helps you slow down and connect with the One who is your only source.
A silent retreat is not about being alone. It is about getting alone with Him. We get away from the world to draw nearer to God. A silent retreat is a planned, but loosely guided time for you to recover from your busy season, reconnect with joy, forgive, let go or grow deeper in your relationship with God.
Whether you want to plan your own silent retreat or go to an organized one, tell a trusted friend about it. Such a person can pray for you during your time of solitude, which can be a blessing in itself.
So, why not get clear of the world for a few hours with a silent retreat? God has treasures in store for you.