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Personal retreat allows for openness with Godcomment (0)

February 21, 2008

By Josh Rutledge

Service to God can be challenging and even strenuous, but a personal spiritual retreat — done right — can often be an effective instrument to energize and reaffirm the faith of a Christian.
Like a group retreat (see story, this page), a personal retreat is an opportunity to draw closer to God through quiet prayer and solitude.

According to Gregory Frizzell, prayer and spiritual awakening specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and the North American Mission Board, a personal retreat can be more unique, even tailored by the Holy Spirit to the needs and concerns of an individual.

“One advantage is that there is a lot more flexibility,” Frizzell said. “There’s no time constraint or schedule.”
Many of the elements of a personal retreat are similar to a group retreat. It’s important to find a location that is free from distractions, ideally a quiet place within nature. It’s also helpful to keep a daily journal and to use resources such as prayer guides and Scripture handouts as a guide.

Above all, it is essential to plan long periods of time alone with God.
Norfleete Day, associate professor of divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, said a personal retreat is advantageous in this respect because it allows people to be more open with God than they might otherwise be in a group setting.

Day noted the disadvantage is that many Christians go into a personal retreat with the wrong perspective — thinking of it as self-serving. But when done correctly, it allows God to shape a person so that person can, in turn, serve others.

“The idea is not just you and God alone in the garden and that’s it,” Day said. “The goal is to be alone with God so you can then go and be enriched and energized among the people of God.”
She added that Jesus is a great example. “When He withdrew, it was to reaffirm and renew His purpose so He could go back to His ministry re-energized.”

For this reason, Day said she recommends joining in worship with others after a personal retreat.
Whether it is in corporate worship with a church body or a small group, the point is to not allow a personal retreat to become self-serving.

“As we draw closer to God, we should be drawing closer to one another. We should want to join with others in worship.”

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