ThinkstockPhotos-100612691It all started with the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in August. Several speakers talked about the value of getting alone with God.  However, it was the statement that several speakers made about “not being able to hear God until the 3rd day,” that really challenged me.

I’ve practiced silence and solitude over the years. For several years after all my kids were school age, I labeled Tuesday as my “prayer and prep” day where I spent extended time with God and used the time for writing or speaking preparation. I’ve also spent time at my friend’s prayer cabin and even done 24 hours of silence and solitude at a retreat center. “Not hearing God ’til the 3rd day,” well I’ve never done more than one day!

My friend, Becky, suggested we take a few days at a retreat center in a nearby town. I was sharing this idea with my friend Julie Barnhill who pushed back on me going to the retreat center. “Jill, what environment connects you best with God?” she asked.  “The mountains or the ocean,” I easily replied. “Then why in the world would you tuck yourself away for three days in a retreat center?” she challenged. “Because it’s convenient,” I responded. “That answer isn’t good enough,” she declared.

Gotta love a friend who isn’t afraid to shoot straight.

I began thinking and praying about her challenge. As I was planning a trip to Atlanta, Georgia for speaking, it struck me that when I’m in Atlanta, I’m only 5 hours from my parent’s condo in the Florida panhandle. What if I took some extra days to seek solace in a place where I easily connect to God?  The condo was available and the plan was set in place.

I’m going to unplug for a few days. There won’t be a Marriage Monday this coming week. I’m fasting for a couple of days from social media. I feel like God is whispering “rest in me and soak in my Word.”  Quite honestly I’m hungry for this time away.

Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “be still and know that I am God.” Whether that’s carving out five minutes in the morning, taking a couple of hours at a coffee shop, or setting aside a few days to spend with the Lord, we have to be intentional about taking deep spiritual breaths.

Need some encouragement on the subject?  These books have been instrumental in deepening my time with God:

Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence
by Ruth Haley Barton

Too Busy Not to Pray
by Bill Hybels

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
by Richard Foster

Come Along: The Journey into a More Intimate Faith
by Jane Rubietta

Come Closer: A Call to Life, Love, and Breakfast on the Beach
by Jane Rubietta

Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats
by Jane Rubietta

Grace Points: Growth and Guidance in Times of Change
by Jane Rubietta

Quiet Places: A Women’s Guide to Personal Retreat
by Jane Rubietta

What about you? How do you slow down to be with God? Have you ever done a spiritual retreat? Do you have any resources you would add to this list? 

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