Spiritual Retreat, Part 2 October 2007

I have many favorite Bible verses and how I respond when asked about the ones dearest to my heart depends largely on my current mood and situation. But there's one verse that is never far from my heart and my mind. In fact, few days pass that I fail to remind myself of its truth and assurance. I'm sure Matthew 11:28-29 are among your favorites too. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light" (NAS).


It's hard to find many people these days who are not weary, who are not heavy-laden or burdened down. Just today I joined two spiritual friends for prayer. As we gathered we all spouted forth a litany of issues, tasks, and concerns that weighed heavy on our minds and in our schedules. Everyone was weary and overwhelmed with work. And yes, it was all church work and ministry responsibilities. I mentioned that I didn't want our prayer time to create another burden for any of us. Yet we all quickly agreed that the hectic schedule and unrelenting expectations were all the more reason to take time to pray. The busier we are the more we need to pray. Someone wisely said, "The more we are called on to serve, the greater the need for the pause that refreshes."


Pausing to pray for a couple of hours every six to eight weeks (as I do with the friends just mentioned) is good. Pausing to pray briefly daily is good. Pausing to pray anytime, anywhere is good. Yet there comes a time when God's children need a more lengthy and relaxed focus upon the Father. Just as the grown children need to occasionally come home for a weekend or a week, believers need to spend some extended time with God. This extended time and attention is usually known as retreat.


Today many people are working extra jobs and/or extended hours. People are trying to work, raise families, provide everything and attend to everything. Most people are time-poor. Many find it difficult to get-away for spiritual nurture because of family and vocational responsibilities. But that does not mean that spiritual nurture is out of reach. Individuals can carve out smaller amounts of time for God-focused attention. Congregations and congregational leaders can encourage and assist individuals and/or small groups in utilizing at-home retreats to assist in spiritual growth and development. In today's time poor culture we must do all we can to encourage and assist believers to find times and ways to open their hearts to God.


Last month SpiritLines discussed retreating at a retreat center or get-away. This month the focus will be more towards personal retreats at home or in a private setting of one's choice. I would love to hear of your experiences utilizing at-home personal and/or small group retreats.


Warmest Regards,

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Flowers in Bowl

Inviting God's Presence DVD and Listening Guide

Inviting God's Presence: Congregational Committees Seeking God DVD and listening guide will assist congregational committees in seeking God's presence, direction, and guidance as they make deliberations and important decisions regarding the life and work of the local church. Power is available through the Spirit.

If you are interested in purchasing this resource, you may order here. 

Transformed by God's Spirit
New DVD Now Available!
Cost: $5.00

This brief DVD features numerous individuals whose lives have been enriched by God's transforming presence. Not only have their personal lives been renewed and energized, also their churches have been renewed as God worked within the hearts and lives of the people.

Appropriate for use with small groups, new Christians, seekers, prospects, church visitors, committees, and individuals. This is a great inexpensive way to share a word of hope in your community. Suggested Reflection Questions are included.

Ordering Information:
Contact Devon Bagwell, 919.459.5513, dbagwell@ncbaptist.org 


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Contact Info

Wendy Minton Edwards

Wendy Minton Edwards
4684 Sheep Pasture Rd.
Spring Hope, NC 27882

Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening
Baptist State Convention of NC

PO Box 1107
Cary, NC 27511
Biblical Teaching Regarding Spiritual Retreat
Jesus' Example:
Matthew 14:23 (NAS) -
"And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening He was there alone."
Matthew 26:36-39 (NAS) -
"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.' And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then he said to them, 'My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.' And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.'"
Matthew 26:42 (NAS) -
"He went away again a second time and prayed."
Mark 1:35 (NAS) -
"And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there."
Mark 6:45-46 (NAS) -
"And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away. And after bidding them farewell, he departed to the mountain to pray."
Luke 5:15-16 (NAS) -
"But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray."
Luke 6:12 (NAS) -
"And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God."
Luke 9:18 (NAS) -
"And it came about that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, 'Who do the multitudes say that I am?'"
Luke 9:28 (NAS) -
"And some eight days after these saying, it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray."
Jesus' Teachings:
Matthew 11:28-29 (NAS) -
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and My load is light."
Mark 6:30 (NAS) -
"Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while."
 The Writers Speak

"Retreats are characterized by leaving behind the regular rush and demands of everyday work and family life to come to a place apart where encounters with God, with others in community, and creation are possible. These encounters put the emphasis on the interconnection and relatedness of all of life. Through retreat experiences, participants have the time and space to reflect on scripture, pray, enjoy the company of one another, and rejoice in the beauty of God's creation. The result of these times away is a renewal of faith and commitment to Jesus Christ."

The Retreat Leader's Manual: A Complete Guide to Organizing Meaningful Christian Retreats, Nancy Ferguson and Kevin Witt. Nashville, TN: Discipleship Resources, 2006, p. 10.


"Transformation is God's doing - not ours - yet it happens because we choose it, in this instance by going apart for reflection and prayer."

Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat, Emilie Griffin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, p. 18.


"Retreat is a generous commitment to friendship with God: one that, despite false starts, stumbling, and all the different aspects of our humanity, will nevertheless act, by grace, to form us in Jesus Christ."

Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat, Emilie Griffin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, p. 3.


"A personal retreat allows us room to be honest with God about how imperfect we are, how disillusioned we are about our life and our inability to live holy and wholly this side of heaven."

Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats, Jane Rubietta. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005, p. 11.


"The most important issue on retreat is not what we do, but what we undo."

Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat, Emilie Griffin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, p. 80.


"God is waiting for us, expecting us, offering us a time of restoration. What we're looking for goes by the simple name: retreat."

Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat, Emilie Griffin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, p. 2.


"The purpose of a contemplative retreat is simply to attend to God. The retreatant does not fail or succeed; he or she simply practices attention for the duration of the retreat. We attend to God in any way that presents itself."

Be Still: Designing and Leading Contemplative Retreats, Jane E. Vennard. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2000, p. 29.


"The water for which we thirst is God's grace, but God gives us the job of hauling it in our own buckets."

Evelyn Underhill as quoted in A Guide to Retreat for All God's Shepherds, Rueben P. Job. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994, p. 13.


"Regular personal retreats are one effective way of creating space and time to receive God's healing for our brokenness, God's presence for our emptiness, God's companionship for our loneliness, and God's enabling strength for our ministry."

A Guide to Retreat for All God's Shepherds, Rueben P. Job. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994, p. 12.


"Why deny ourselves any opportunity to come aside awhile and rest on holy ground? Why not withdraw from the daily web that keeps us muddled and wound? Wordsworth's complaint is ours as well: 'The world is too much with us.'There is no flu shot to protect us from infection by the skepticism of the media, the greed of commerce, the alienating influence of technology. We need retreats as the deer needs the running stream."

A Retreat with John the Evangelist: That You May Have Life, Raymond E. Brown. Cincinnati, Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998, p. 2.

 Retreat Resources

Angell, Jeanette L. All Ground is Holy: A Guide to Christian Retreat. Harrisburg: PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1993.

Brown, Raymond E. A Retreat with John the Evangelist: That You May Have Life. Cincinnati: Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998.

DelBene, Ron with Mary and Herb Montgomery. Alone with God: A Guide for Personal Retreats. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1996.

Ferguson, Nancy and Kevin Witt. The Retreat Leaders' Manual: A Complete Guide to Organizing Meaningful Christian Retreats. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2006.

Green, Thomas H. A Vacation with the Lord: A Personal Directed Retreat Based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.

Griffin, Emilie. Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.

Job, Rueben P. A Guide to Retreat for All God's Shepherds. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994.

Jones, Timothy. A Place for God: A Guide to Spiritual Retreats and Retreat Centers. New York: Image Books, Doubleday Press, 2000.

Kelly, Jack and Marcia. Sanctuaries: The Complete United States, A Guide to Lodgings in Monasteries, Abbeys, and Retreats. New York: Bell Tower, Crown Publishing, 2003 updated version.

Payne, Joseph A. Befriending: A Self-Guided Retreat for Busy People. Mahwah: NJ: Paulist Press, 1992.

Rubietta, Jane. Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

Santa, Thomas M. Sacred Refuge: Why & How to Make a Retreat. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Marie Press, 2005.

Silf, Margaret. Going on Retreat: A Beginners Guide to the Christian Retreat Experience. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2002.

Vennard, Jane E. Be Still: Designing and Leading Contemplative Retreats. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 1989.

Whitcomb, Holly W. Practicing Your Path: A Book of Retreats for an Intentional Life. Philadelphia: Innisfree Press, 2002.

Listing is for informational purposes only.  This is not an exhaustive or recommended list.

 Retreat Helps

Types of Retreats:
  • Prayer Retreat
  • Vocational Discernment Retreat
  • Special Need Retreat
  • Working Retreat
  • Retreat with Classical Spiritual-Life Writings
  • Group Retreat
  • Retreat with Spouse/Friends
  • Conference-Style Retreat
  • Guided Retreats (follow a predetermined schedule)
  • Directed Retreats (meet with a spiritual guide for direction)
  • Marriage or Engaged Couple Retreat

 A Place for God: A Guide to Spiritual Retreats and Retreat Centers, Timothy Jones. New York: Image Books, Doubleday Publishers, 2000, p. 71-78.


Home Retreat Ideas:


Set aside one hour a day for a week for spiritual nurture. It could be prayer, Scripture reading, silent reflection, prayerful listening, etc. If possible, partner with another person to engage in similar practices. Meet with your partner the last day to share learnings, experiences, and nudges from God.


Congregational leaders could choose a brief retreat guide or develop one for themselves. Participants could set aside a day or half day and individually utilize the guide in the privacy of their home, back porch, park, etc. Participants might gather at some point for group sharing and debriefing.


Congregational leaders might choose a specific scripture passage or biblical story. Retreat participants would be invited to read and ponder the passage or story during a predetermined time period. A time for sharing the learnings, reflections, and questions would conclude the retreat.


Congregational leaders could partner home retreat participants by twos. Each group of two could meet for one hour a day every day for a week. They could devote this time to mutual encouragement, shared discernment, Scripture meditation, and/or prayer.


If possible, unplug the phone and turn off all sources of noise and distraction. Settle into a quiet place, read a brief biblical passage, and meditate upon it. Simply read the passage again if you find yourself distracted. You may want to read the passage in several different Bible translations. Take a brief nap if you become sleepy and then reread the passage. If there is no quiet place in the home, find a porch, park, or any quiet place.  Many people find outside retreats especially meaningful.


Choose a well respected spiritual classic writing. Set aside an hour or so each day for a week, even possibly two weeks. Commit to reading one chapter each day and spend the remainder of the hour reflecting on the thoughts of the writer. Think about Bible stories or passages that parallel the writers' thoughts.


Seek out a spiritual director in your area. Arrange to meet with the director once a week for a month.Share with the director your thoughts, feelings, leanings, and desires for your spiritual life. Follow his/her guidance and follow-up with new learnings and experiences. This process may be continued less often if it proves spiritually nurturing.


Engage silence and listen for God's still small voice. Be creative and have fun.


Wendy Minton Edwards

Retreat Tips:
  • Remember that Jesus Christ himself is leading you.  He is your companion and guide, just ahead of you, encouraging you.  He is breaking ground for you.  There is nothing to fear.
  • Take courage; have fun on the journey.  The spiritual life is not supposed to be gloomy.  You make your retreat with a high heart and a light step.  You dance your way into the kingdom with joy.
  • When you meditate, consider the beatitudes.  They're supposed to comfort you and make you happy.  Revel in the positive power of the Sermon on the Mount.  You are blessed when you mourn.  You will be comforted.  You are pure in hear; you will see God.  You are meek; you will inherit the earth.  You are blessed when you are persecuted.  You are blessed.
  • Remember that all the grace of the kingdom is present in this very moment.  Take heart.  Rejoice.
  • Be easy on yourself.  Be as kind to you as the Lord himself, who loves you and knows how much you want to take his yoke upon your shoulders. 
  • Try little, short prayer times.  Make them fun and creative.
  • Don't try to move mountains.  Let the Lord do that!
  • Splash into the blessings of frequent Christian prayer; do cartwheels in the Spirit!
  • Reduce and trim your expectations.  Set aside any notions of conquest or achievement.  Concentrate on ideas of comfort and entertain the idea of idleness as a way of being with God.
  • Take naps.  Lie down in green pastures.  Drink in the blessings of Christian rest.
  • Please the Lord by pleasing yourself.  Arrange the day to suit yourself, and it will delight him.  Do what restores and refreshes you; don't try hard over anything.
  • Think of your retreat as a time to take it easy, with the easy yoke of Jesus Christ.  Clown around in the spirit of Christian hope and happiness.

Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat. Emilie Griffin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, p. 83-85

Potential Retreat Elements:
  • Contemplate Quotes (either biblical of spiritual classic writings)
  • Meditate on Scripture
  • Journal Your Thoughts
  • Respond in Prayer
  • Consider Creation
  • Seek Stillness
  • Reflect on Questions
  • Hymns of Praise

Examen of Conscience (prayer inviting God's to search the heart for areas that need healing, purifying, cleansing)
Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreat. Jane Rubietta. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005, p. 12-14.

Additional Potential Retreat Elements:

  • Engage Silence and Prayerful Listening
  • Take a Nap
  • Take a Walk
  • Write a Note
  • Help Prepare Meals or Assist in Cleaning Up
  • Engage in an Art or Craft Project
  • Participate in Personal or Community Worship

Wendy Minton Edwards



Potential Retreat Schedule:


(There are limitless possibilities for spiritual retreats.  Following is one potential model.)

  1. Prayer for Guidance
  2. Silent Listening (with pen and paper for capturing impressions.)
  3. Scripture Reading
  4. Spiritual Reading (Spiritual classic or devotional writing)
  5. Reflection
  6. Mealtime
  7. Rest
  8. Recreation
  9. Journaling
  10. Prayer
  11. Further Spiritual Reading, Reflection, and Journaling
  12. Eucharist (communion)
  13. Response (How have you/will you respond to God's leading and guidance?)
  14. Returning to the World (What commitments have you made? What will you do differently when you return home?)
  15. Closing Prayer

A Guide to Retreat for All God's Shepherds. Rueben P. Job. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994, p. 14-17.

Book Review
Author: Holly W. Whitcomb
Philadelphia, PA: Innisfree Press, 2002.
117 pages
Category: Spiritual Retreat

      Practicing Your Path, by author Holly Whitcomb is a superb resource for those who desire quiet time with God, but who are too busy to even plan their own spiritual retreat. It is designed to serve as a retreat guide and provides resources for seven one-day retreats. Everything that is needed for each retreat is provided, from the retreat theme, Scriptural basis, planning ahead tips, supplies needed, background Bible Study helps, meditation and reflection suggestions, spiritual exercises, and prayer guidance.

     The seven retreats that are included center on "pivotal components of classical Christian spirituality:" Practicing Sabbath, Practicing Hospitality, Practicing Prayer and Action, Practicing the Fast, Practicing Stewardship, Practicing Your Call, and Practicing Accountability. Parallel helps are also included for leading these types of retreat experiences for and with others. A bonus is included in the appendices, guidance for an end-of-series retreat for those who experience all the retreats in the book. 

     Whitcomb does a great job of balancing the many needs of most retreatants. She includes time for intentional and focused communication with God, as well as time for simple rest and relaxation. She includes time for study and learning, as well as time for reflection and listening. Her helps provide smooth transitions from one retreat phase to the next, good introductory experiences and thoughtful and reflective closings.

     An excellent resource for those desiring to intentionally live the spiritual life.

 Upcoming Events
Retreat information is provided for informational purposes only. It does not include endorsements or recommendations.
North Carolina Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation
October 14-19
Trinity Center, Atlantic Beach

The Academy for Spiritual Formation is a disciplined Christian Community emphasizing holistic spirituality - nurturing body, mind and spirit.

Walk as Jesus Walked

November 9-11
Scripture Focus: 1, 2, & 3 John
Presenter: Paul Walker, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove

Through this study of the teachings from "the disciple whom Jesus loved," you will find practical application for living out the Gospel in your own life. 


Becoming a Praying Congregation: The Art of Teaching Spiritual Practice

November 12-14

Presenter: Jane Vennard

Oblate Renewal Center
San Antonio, Texas 
Do you long to be a part of a congregation - or lead a congregation - where prayer is a more comfortable part of what you do and how you talk with one another? Then this workshop is for you. 
Read on about this retreat...



Spiritualities of Creation: Knowing God and Self in a Broken World

March 9-14, 2008

This course will look at the various ways the Old Testament deals with creation, particularly in light of our broken world, a world that cries out for restoration and renewal. 


Read on about this retreat...

Group Spiritual Direction (Weekend format)

March 27-30, 2008


This class will learn about and experience a way of being together in covenanted group community that is anchored in 1) scripture using lectio divina, 2) silence using a structured process with facilitators to hold the space made, 3) prayer both silent and spoken and 4) listening to self and one another to hear over time what God might be speaking into the community for us.


Read on about this retreat...

The Pilgrim's Way: Desert Spirituality

March 31 - April 7, 2008


2008 Pilgrimage to northern New Mexico

Read on about this retreat...

Discerning Forgiveness

April 24-27, 2008


Our class will help us attend to several voices in this debate, discern some of the complexities of timing and circumstance, claim a stance with scriptural and theological integrity, and engage in key practices to help us learn the "craft" of forgiveness.

 Prayer Requests
Submit your prayer requests to Devon Bagwell at dbagwell@ncbaptist.org and she will list them.

 Formation Thought to Ponder

"When we go on retreat, we clear a space for God's action in our calendar. We should not expect instantaneous changes and overnight results, but we should be willing to change. Going on retreat is really a kind of self-gift, showing the willingness to be healed and transformed."


Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat, Emilie Griffin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Renovarَe Resources, 1997, p. 25.


Holy Lord God, I long to be with you. I hunger to experience your refreshing, renewing presence. I yearn to hear your still small voice. I am well aware of my complete inability and your total sufficiency. Yet Lord, even in the midst of my need for you, I often neglect time with you and attention towards you. Please forgive my self-centeredness and waywardness. As the burning bush that was not consumed reminded Moses to look up, I pray you will find ways to remind me to turn towards you. Help me to remember and intentionally focus on you. For I know that your spirit is ready and willing to provide all that I need, yea, and much that I simply want. Your love can provide the very desires of my heart. Help me to make time and space, help me to retreat with you. Amen.


How are you finding time and ways for spiritual retreat? How is God nurturing your heart and growing you through spiritual retreats?