Why Go On A Retreat?
Stillness is an essential part of developing a relationship with God. He is always present in us, but many times we’re simply too busy and distracted to sense His presence and hear His voice. When we slow down and eliminate distractions, we can enter into a deeper relationship with Him that renews and strengthens us.
Stillness and peace are not a function of separation. Retreats help us focus our attention on God and build our spiritual capacity to hear His voice in the midst of our day-to-day lives. This capacity allows us to cope with our daily challenges from a position of strength, confidence, and surrender to our Holy Lord. Spiritual renewal and maturity are not ends unto themselves. They are the fuel that we need to minister and serve without exhaustion, in God’s name.
Writings of great Christians throughout history suggest a consistent practice of getting away from the busyness of life to reflect on Scripture and talk to God. Jesus himself (Matthew 26:36-44; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16, 6:12, 9:18) we are told often separated himself from the crowds that followed him and even from his disciples to talk to His Father. At the beginning of his Christian ministry Paul went to Arabia for three years (Galatians 1:17-18) and some say during this time he was reflecting on his conversion experience and building his relationship with the Lord.
In the early Church it was not uncommon for the spiritual leaders and guides to spend years in the desert. These Desert Fathers and Mothers sought God’s voice and teachings and were sought out by others seeking to grow in the new movement known as Christianity.
Fourteen and fifteenth century Western Europe was alive with Christian experience. Many of those who would eventually become Saints of the Catholic church sought to separate themselves, temporarily or permanently from the pressures of the world so that they could hear the voice of God. St. Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, St. John of the Cross and others lived a life of solitude and devotion. Their experiences and writings have, over the centuries, inspired others to grow in their faith through stillness and solitude.
In more modern time, Thomas Merton, Evelyn Underhill, Marjorie Thompson, Richard Foster, Ruth Haley Barton and many others have written about and led others into stillness and silence as a devotion practice. The history and practice of Christian stillness is rich and deep, but in today’s world where busyness, efficiency, and accomplishment have become idols, it is not often comfortable or sought out.
We have become a society of doers. Our worth is often determined by how much we get done, how much we produce, how much we contribute. Even in the church idleness is often equated with laziness or lack of worth. Even pastors and others in religious life struggle to take time to pray and build their relationship with the Lord.
The experience of being still can be difficult at first because we are addicted to activity and outcomes. Sitting still, listening for God’s voice, enjoying God’s creation, and even taking a nap or a walk feel like frivolous luxuries that we can’t afford. We tell ourselves that we are wasting time doing these things because we can’t measure the value of the time spent. It is only when God changes our perspective and we see that who we are in Him is more important than what we do (even for Him), that we begin to appreciate and crave Him in stillness.
God values the time we spend with Him. He grieves time not spent in relationship with us and He seeks to draw us to him. In Psalm 139: 23-24, David writes: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This is the cry of a man who is seeking God’s direction. Many pray prayers like this, but it is only when they slow down, to listen to God’s voice, that they sense his direction. Stillness slows us down, quiets our internal voices and distractions, and allows us to be with God.
About Seeking Stillness Retreats
Each Seeking Stillness Ministries retreat is unique. From pre-retreat discussions to considerable times of prayer, the retreat staff discerns God’s will for that particular retreat and designs it accordingly.
While times of teaching, discussion, and fellowship are part of each retreat, the majority of your time at a Seeking Stillness retreat is spent in prayer and discussion with God. This is your time with the Lord. The retreat staff is available throughout to provide guidance and support, but participants are free to spend the retreat time in whatever way they feel will help them draw closer to God.
The retreats are held in places that provide the space and environment for stillness. Participants are encouraged to spend time outdoors, in quiet spaces, and in the Word.
All meals and accommodations are provided through the retreat registration fee.
Partial scholarships are available upon request.
Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10