"Come apart by yourselves into a desert place, and rest a while:" - Mark 6:31

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Personal Prayer Retreat

Have you ever had a prayer vacation? Thatís right, "A Prayer Vacation." It is really a personal prayer retreat. Several years ago I began the discipline of scheduling regular (and irregular) times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.

Elijah discovered the value of such extended times with the Lord during his misadventures with Jezebel (I Kings 19). Jesus often went on such retreat into "a mountain apart to pray" and he invited his disciples to "come apart and rest." Paul practices the discipline of prolonged times of prayer as well. In fact every man or woman of God throughout the history of the church has found this to be a secret to spiritual strength and refreshing.

Wesley Duewel, in his wonderful book, Touch the World Through Prayer, testifies of the strength this discipline has brought to his own life and ministry even in times when his schedule seemed too busy for it. (The book is available free of charge in our church office.)

I have been encouraged recently when several friends in ministry, men and women of God, shared with me that they too have begun to set apart periodic times for personal prayer retreats. I would encourage you to do it as well.


  1. Schedule it with God just as you would any other appointment. Write it into the calendar.
  2. Find a secluded place where you can be alone with God and your thoughts.
  3. Meet God alone. If you have a young family to care for ask a friend or relative to care for them for a day so you can meet with God alone.
  4. Make it an overnight experience to give yourself plenty of time. Donít rush it. Make it two nights if you are really hungry for God.

Resources To Take:

  1. Take a familiar Bible, a notebook for journaling your thoughts, a devotional book to read, a clock, comfortable walking shoes, a Walkman and earphones and worship music.

What to Do:

  1. Read the Bible. Perhaps target to read one of the Gospels, the book of Romans, or an Old Testament Book like Genesis or Kings.
  2. Discipline yourself in a pattern of prayer. Use the six steps of preparation the pastor taught and then six topics for intercessory prayer. I do 45-50 minutes of prayer on each step throughout the day - 12 hours of prayer - sounds impossible but it works.
  3. Fast or at least drink lots of juices. It is not a time for feasting. Take along some crackers or snacks if you are not an experienced faster. But donít let fasting distract you from prayer. It is more important to pray than to fast. There are no "brownie points" for endurance.
  4. Go for a walk with God. Enoch did.
  5. Sing songs to the Lord. Choruses or hymns from memory or from a songbook. God is listening and enjoying fellowship with you. (Ephesians 5: 19 and Colossians 3:16)
  6. Take a nap. Elijah did. Itís OK. "He gives his beloved sleep." "Rest in the Lord."
  7. Read a good devotional book on prayer or the deeper life. Donít try reading it all at once. Read a chapter each hour or a couple of reading periods during the day.

Devotional Books for Prayer Retreats

  • Touch the World Through Prayer - Wesley Duewel
  • Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire - Jim Cymbala
  • 7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting & Prayer - Bill Bright
  • Binding and Loosing - Neil Foster
  • Authority of the Believer - J.A. MacMillan
  • God Chasers - Tommy Tenny
See Books on Prayer
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