3 Reasons You Need a Retreat

Photo by Vladimir Fofanov

Retreats are nothing new. Even Jesus knew in His earthly ministry how important it was to get away and be with God. All of the big moments in Jesus’ life were preceded by a time of prayer away from the world. And before each of the intense periods of selfless serving and miracle-making Jesus spent time in retreat. He knew that He had to spend some quality time with the Father before He would be ready to serve others.

Here are three reasons you need a retreat.

1. To Renew Your Relationship with God

It’s easy to get caught up in the busy work of ministry and forget why you’re in it in the first place. You need to be reminded of why you got into this in the first place. On retreat you will be able to stop working and set aside all of the busyness of your daily life in order to focus 100% on God.

You can’t give what you don’t have. And a retreat is like a spiritual refueling, a renewing of the soul, a rekindling of the romance between you and God. By taking this time you will be better prepared to go out into the world and serve Him.

“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God you have from the imposition of my hands.”

~ 2 Timothy 1:6

2. To Find Rest in God

Life is exhausting. Work rules our time, then we still have kids to raise, a spouse to please, and who knows what else. You need rest. This is more than just taking a nap. It is a deeper kind of rest.

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” ~ St. Augustine

This kind of rest is only found in God. We can’t truly experience peace without God. His peace is all-encompassing. It is profound. It is just what most of us need—a break from the busyness, a temporary escape from the world, a brief time for focused intimacy, quality time with God.

3. To Gain Clarity about Your Vocation

Many people start off focused on the goal, but later find themselves lost and off the path. They lose that initial focus and forget the reason they are doing what they do. On retreat you are free from all distractions and able to truly listen to God and His plans for your life.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

~ Jeremiah 29:11

This is the perfect environment for gaining clarity about the purpose of your life. He has a plan for you, but if you aren’t living it you are working against God. This a reason for much of the struggle people face. Your time on retreat will allow you to take stock of your life, make changes where necessary, and regain the focus and drive towards the mission God has given you and the goals He has set for you.

You might not need to go on a week-long silent retreat in a monastery in the middle of nowhere. However, I’d challenge you not to discount the value of such. But maybe a weekend at a local retreat center. Most parishes offer annual retreats for men or women. Take advantage!

Once a year is great for the longer, more formal types of retreats. But you need a retreat more often than that. Think about the possibility of taking a day each month to hiking into the mountains, or to sit along on the beach. The idea isn’t that you have to actually be inside of a Church building. The point is that you are away from all distractions in a time of focused, intentional intimacy with God. You may find you actual have time to think, to listen, to breathe.

Question: Do you make retreats on a regular basis? If so, how often and what practical tips can you share?