This weekend the students at our church participate in our annual fall retreat.
It is easy to think of a fall retreat as an event. But we try to think of our fall retreat as a spiritual discipline.
M. Robert Mulholland Jr. (1993) describes retreat in these terms:
Retreat is the discipline of setting apart a time, individually or corporately, to step aside from the normal flow of life and give God our full and undivided attention. While the disciplines of prayer, spiritual reading, worship, daily office, study and fasting all serve as means to clarify the focus of our life in Christ and keep us centered as citizens of God’s new order of being, we also need special times in which we allow God to help us reevaluate the whole structure of our life in Christ. We need to stand aside from our discipleship so as to be able to see more clearly the direction in which we are going and the course corrections God would have us make. It is possible for the practice of the classical disciplines itself to become a subtle form of works righteousness in which we come to think that by our faithful exercise of the disciplines we are transforming ourselves into the image of Christ. We need to take times to stand aside and allow God to show us what we are doing and what we ought to be doing (p. 119)
This is our heart for retreat: “to step aside from the normal flow of life and give God our full and undivided attention.” A spiritual retreat is deliberate time away to focus on God, and this is what we want for our students and leaders. Will you pray with us for this time?
And what about you? How does retreat work in your life? What does it look like? Do you need a weekend away? Could the best way forward right now be the way back?
Mulholland, M. R., Jr. (1993). Invitation to a journey: A road map for spiritual formation. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books