Hey guys! How have you been? like really been? hopefully not just existing but actually living! God’s grace remains sufficient.
I woke up with a reminder from the Holy Spirit to blog about my retreat experience and I knew straight away it was Him because I like to keep things like that very private.
The people who religiously follow the blog wouldn’t know that I had been on retreat because during my retreats, I still blog, I only just turn off my internet on my phone so I have no communication with the rest of the world. I would actually even prefer to have it off, but because of some responsibilities I could not leave for a while, I had to have it on.
Retreats are beautiful God-moment times and I know we have God-moments everyday of our lives through daily devotions and fellowship with friends and family, however, personal retreats hit different. I started the annual ritual of retreating 3 times a year about 4 years ago, prior to that, I retreated only once in a year and my Spirit is now so used to it that it recognises the seasons I should take off and I begin to feel uncomfortable.
A lot of Christians don’t understand it entirely and this post is to share a little of my experience and then do a quick brief FAQ on it.
This particular one was very profound. I had woken up one morning and I heard the voice in my Spirit saying “You need to get quiet Rubie”, I replied, “God, i’m quiet, you can speak, i’m actually listening” and the voice just repeated the initial statement; “You need to get quiet Rubie”.
Despite my delay, I finally picked dates and started praying into it, asking God to show me what He wanted to teach me and what He would have me focus on during that period. My mentor was also of great help, informing me of words God had given and so I went in ready. To read, study, listen and pray.
Every day of this last retreat, I had a unique dream, I dream often, but not as consistently as 10 days in a row, so when it happened the first 3 days, I knew it was a pattern so I started sleeping, praying and expecting God to reveal what He wanted while I slept.
Interpretations came right after dreams and I was intentional about writing them all down because I noticed the lessons and trends in all of them. these are some of the things that happen for me only during these retreats, it comes with higher levels of encounters and experiences that only come with separating yourself completely from the world.
I’m a big advocate of them and so I’ve put together an FAQ on the questions I get with regards my retreats, and i’m happy to answer any more that anyone might have.
FAQ on retreats.
- How long do you spend in retreats?
I started retreats with 3 days initially, phone off, no TV, minimal human interaction and no social gathering. Just me and God in a room or house. You build this zeal and desire over time so don’t be ashamed to start with only a day or two. My retreats now are 10 -14 days. Sufficient time to de-clutter my mind and then refill with all of God.
2. What do you do during your days?
During retreat, I study the bible mostly. I read faith based books and I listen to lots and lots of messages. I also pray and just meditate which is the moments I give for God to just speak. Worship is also an amazing way to welcome God’s presence so I ensure I do a lot of that
Note however, that someone in a full time job might be unable to do this at a go, so you need to design it around your own work days. I was only able to do this cause I was a student. Once work starts, I’ll need to find another working plan.
3. How do you know what to focus on during retreat?
Like I said, it is important to pray before starting a retreat, sometimes God will give you specific instructions on what He wants you to focus on, other times, it might be more spontaneous. God asked me to focus on the books of Hebrews and Acts in this past retreat and in the earlier one in the year, He asked me to study of servant-hood, submission and discipleship.
Don’t be gutted however if you don’t get exact words before retreat, that’s just a call to go with an open heart and mind.
4. What do you do after your retreat?
Most times, I come out of my retreat with specific instructions and so once i’m out, I get on with those instructions, but ultimately, I try to implement all that I was taught in my daily living after retreat. There’s no point of learning something and not applying it so I intentionally draft out a plan for implementing my lessons.
I also share with friends. I find it hard to hold new things I learn from God, so sometimes when I seat with friends, I let them in on the things I heard and learnt
5. Best ways to get the most out of a retreat?
One word, JOURNAL. Retreat is usually a time of literal ‘Open Heaven’. God is speaking even more expressly and revealing deep things. The human mind will forget somethings so make sure you always journal them as they come. God often leads me back to journals of my retreats to remind me of a promise He made or a lesson I learnt which is always great encouragement.
An added element I would say is to fast, fasting sobers your mind which makes it more sensitive. I would recommend a message by Myles Monroe that gives an understanding of what fasting really is and what it does for us. I ensure I fast through my retreat. I pray and break at 6pm daily (some days I cheated lool, broke at 4 or 5).
I should add here that there is no one way to do this honestly. God has a way of dealing with us on an individual level so when you decide to engage in such spiritual exercises, you’ll find He might give you instructions that is peculiar to you as a person so just stay sensitive.