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How to Have a Successful Spiritual Retreat

© Ruth Marlene Friesen

How often do you start your life over? Maybe you turn over a new leaf every New Year's Day.

Lately I've heard nothing but, "I don't make New Year's resolutions any more. Can't keep 'em, so why make 'em?"

Let's put away the cliches, and I'll show you a much better plan. Instead of counting on yourself to do it all right, remember that you are a spiritual being and can talk with God, who is a Spirit. You may ask Him to make changes in you, and to go with you through the new year and the rest of your life.

Some think this means going through life wearing faith like a blindfold. You can't tell what's happening next. That may be true for some. (Maybe God does put a harness and blinders on willful people when they permit).

But I've found that I can have dialogues with Him and discuss plans. That may come from years of having running conversations with the Lord Jesus, and learning to sense intuitively whether He approves or not of my ideas, which just bubble out of my vivid imagination. I always try to see things from His perspective too, and to remember what the Bible says on most topics that come up. Still, I see no reason why others couldn't do the same. Here's some basic guidelines.

1. Make an appointment for this and allow lots of time. This is not a 5 - 10 minute devotional time before you dash off to work. On Boxing Day I started about 6:30 am right after my morning shower and bathroom time. When I heard Dad moving about, I went up to prepare breakfast and went back to my room. Again at lunch, and back until supper. In the evening I did something else.

The next morning I got only until noon, to continue my spiritual retreat, but I covered a lot of ground because of the basics dealt with the day before.

2. Make a list of the questions you want to ask God, or the areas of your life that need a good honest look. I wanted to;
- review my goal and agenda for the next year,,
- confirm if I was on the right track,
- set new goals if God had something new for me to do,
- review my web design projects,
- review affiliate programs and decide which to drop,
- sort my to do cards and ideas
- see if I should change my prayer list/cards
and so forth. (Yes, there was more).

3. But begin with confession of failures first. God is not going to meet you in this spiritual retreat if you want to hang on to certain wrongs in pride. You'll be spinning your wheels.

4. Take time to look in the Bible for passages that may apply to you and your situation, or the basic under-current goal you think you have. In my case I went to 2 Corinthians 9 to look up a verse, and noticed that all of chapter 8 and 9 spoke about generosity, the very thing that had been on my mind for a couple of weeks! Both sounded to me as if God were saying He very much approved of my desire to be a generous giver. I do not always get confirmation of His will for me so fast, but things only got better from there on.

5. Relax. Don't think or talk all the time. Listen for the Spirit's soft, gentle voice in your intuition.

6. Make notes! Make more notes and lists!

Truth is - those wonderful hours will fly by, but later when you're back in a work rut you'll have trouble recalling the details. You need notes to go back to. Those exciting plans will evaporate like a morning fog just weeks or days later, and they will fizzle, and next New Year's you'll be announcing to all that you don't believe in making resolutions.

Remember, these are not just resolutions or even good daydreams or fantasies. Once written down they become a plan. An agenda. A work outline for you to carry out. You didn't think God would do all the work alone, did you?

7. Draw up a calendar, and mark off about when you will do each project or step. Yes, you can revise this each week - whenever, really. But you will not get even started if you don't draw up a plan and lay it out where you see it every day. Picture yourself doing all these things.

8. With thanksgiving and gladness, start your life over with this new plan. Be careful to discipline yourself for a few weeks until you are sub-consciously used to your new lifestyle and pace.

Like me, you'll look forward to your next Spiritual Retreat.

Ruth Marlene Friesen makes friends wherever she goes!
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Ruth Marlene Friesen

Ruth Marlene Friesen
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