January 20, 2017
READ: Luke 9:1-10
Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida (v.10).
If you were given an extra day each week, how would you use it? To read books, volunteer with a charity, perhaps catch up on sleep? In truth, I’d probably spend that extra day working. While I enjoy what I do, I don’t think that’s the healthiest of confessions.
Last year I found myself with an extra day, so to speak. It was a free day I had between speaking engagements that I’d planned to spend working on some articles. Instead, I turned it into a retreat.
I booked some accommodations. My room was small but had lovely big windows. I looked out at the cottages next door with their hedges, trees, and rustling leaves. I watched the birds, heard them sing. I read Scripture; I prayed. And something important began to happen. Things that needed changing in my life began floating to mind—things I needed to stop doing, start doing, or shift in priority. I gained clarity on some important decisions. God was recalibrating my life.
Jesus considered His work so important He regularly interrupted it for prayerful retreat. He began His public ministry this way (Luke 4:1-15), retreated before making major decisions (6:12-16) and when His fame and popularity grew (5:15,16). He taught His disciples the practice too (Mark 6:31). After sending them out on a mission (Luke 9:1-6), He drew them away for some solitude—although it was short-lived on this occasion! (v.10). While we should all have regular rest and recreation, they’re not the same as prayerful retreat, where the focus is spending unhurried time with God.
We can’t add a day to our weeks but we can be intentional with the time we have. So ask me tomorrow what I’d do with an extra day. I hope I’ll say: “I’d spend it in prayerful retreat.”
365-day plan: Genesis 32:1-33:16
Reflect on the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Which character do you most relate to and why?
How often do you have a “prayerful retreat” with God? When can you next book one into your calendar?