Planning a Personal Prayer Retreat | Ashley Varner
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Planning a Personal Prayer Retreat

Have you ever felt like your Christian life was just in a slump or maybe your relationship with the Lord just didn’t excite you or you didn’t feel as connected to him as you once were? Well, there is a cure for that and we’re going to be talking about it today.

Don’t have time to read? Listen instead!

I recently went on a personal prayer retreat and it completely changed my my walk with Christ.

Having one on one time with my Creator is something that I think that we should all do. This was something that has been on my bucket list for a long time and now it is going to be something that I do year after a year.

I want to experience that closeness every year and I want you to do the same.

How would it change your life to be able to experience the fullness of who God is and really grow in your relationship with Him?

It doesn’t have to be as complex as you think. In fact, I’m going to be giving a little bit of what I did in my prayer retreat and give you some tools to so that you can do the same thing.

What a personal prayer retreat is and why you need one! | AshleyVarner.com

Reasons to Plan a Personal Prayer Retreat

Wisdom before making a big decision

Before you have to make a big decision, you really want to seek the Lord. To listen and figure out what He wants you to do with your life with whatever decision that you’re making. Whether it’s a job change or something big happening with your family.

That would be a perfect time for a personal prayer retreat.

To Ignite a Spark in Your Relationship with the Lord

Another reason that you might want to have a personal prayer retreat, is to create excitement in your relationship with the Lord.

We all get it. We know what it’s like when you’ve been married for a long time and you’re going through the day to day things. You look up from the daily grind and discover that you’ve lost that spark.

I know couples who will go on a romantic vacation together to get one on one time and we need the same thing in our relationship with the Lord.

So as if you’ve been a Christian for a long time and you found that spark is kind of waning, it’s good to have some one on one time with Him.

When You Need to Fill Your Cup

If you are actively serving in a position of ministry and constantly giving of yourself, a personal prayer retreat can fill your cup.

Sometimes we’re hesitant or we’re neglectful of spending that time with Him and really being filled up ourselves. Then we end up burning out.

Related: Fill Your Cup

Related: How to Give and Avoid Burnout

So that would definitely be a time to plan a personal prayer retreat.

I’m a worship leader and I serve in many different capacities. So, you know those special retreats women go to so they can have special time with the Lord…I’m working at those events.

That makes it extra critical for me to be intentional about getting my time with the Lord.

That’s exactly what I did a few weekends ago.

What To Take

Some things to pack:

  • Definitely tissues (if you’re anything like me, there will be good crying involved)
  • A prayer journal
  • Your Bible
  • A worship playlist
  • And I also took a movie (which I’ll explain about in just a second)

Just because you’re going on a prayer retreat doesn’t mean that you’re praying from the time that you get there, to the time that you leave.

You can have different things planned that break up that time and really help you have more of a direction or an agenda for what you’re there to do.

 

Your Personal Prayer Retreat Agenda

I checked into a hotel that was about 40 miles away from my home town.  For me, this worked the best because I wanted to avoid people I knew and be in the stillness and the quiet of my time with the Lord.

If getting a hotel is not in your budget. You can consider having a quiet time where you send the kids to their grandparent’s house overnight. Maybe pick a time that your husband has to be out of town and then you take that time in your own home to spend time with the Lord.

No matter where you plan this prayer retreat, make sure that it’s void of any distractions.

We’re coming to this prayer time with a purpose, with intention, and you want to make sure that you’re not distracted by that pile of dishes in the sink or the dryer timer going off.

So what was the agenda that I used?

6:15pm – Arrive at location and set up

I suggest you wear comfortable clothes, but not pajamas.

6:20pm – Worship

Prepared your heart for what God was going to do in my life over the next 24 hours

There’s something about worship. Whenever we come before Him and we just take all of the focus off of ourselves, we start to focus on Him.

It gets our heart ready for what God wants to do in our lives.

7:00pm – Repentance

After my worship time, I had a time of repentance.

I was actually on my knees praying, repenting, asking the Lord to show me things in my life that I was not doing correctly, the things that were not pleasing to Him, and I spent some time just cleaning my heart.

**I think that’s an important step that you won’t want to skip. Whenever you are planning this personal prayer retreat, make time for repentance because God hears from a repentant heart.

When you are coming before Him, you’re asking Him to cleanse your life.

We’re asking Him to forgive us. Nothing will put your heart and mind in right place to hear from God, like repentance.

7:45pm – Prayer Journaling

Next, I got out my prayer journal and I started journaling. Write your needs out before the Lord.

I didn’t even get very specific into these needs right away, but I just wrote down some things that I wanted to talk to God about during this personal time, I made an agenda for my prayer time, so to speak.

As I was writing these needs in a journal, I listed each need at the top of a page and then I left the page blank.

I did this because later as I was praying for those things, I wanted to be able to record the things that I was praying for and also God’s response to those needs.

I wanted to make sure that I left space for that.

8:30pm – The Passion of the Christ

Up next I decided to watch a movie, which seems kind of odd for a personal prayer retreat, but it was definitely intentional.

The movie I watched was “The Passion of the Christ.”

I really prayed before I watched the movie and I said, “Lord, I want to have You at the center of this entire evening. I want to remember what You did for me. I want to be reminded of it.”

The Passion of the Christ is a difficult movie to watch. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but I definitely would recommend it if you haven’t.

If you really want to be focusing on the Lord, on HIS plan for your life, on the direction that HE wants you to go in, start with knowing what it was like to be there, experiencing the pain that HE went through for you, experiencing the sacrifice that HE made for you.

There’s something about seeing that movie that really prepares your heart and that’s what we’re doing.

The early part of this prayer retreat for me was preparing my heart to hear from the Lord.

10:30pm – Bible Reading

After I watched that movie, it was about two hours long, so it was about 10:30. I turned on another worship playlist that I had created that was all instrumental music, so there was no words. It was just instruments, and during that time I read my Bible.

After I had spent some time in repentance, I had written out what my plan was and what my needs were to the Lord.

I had gotten my heart prepared.

Then I started to read His Word. After that I went to sleep.

11:00pm – Peaceful Sleep

8:00am – Wake up and Read God’s Word Aloud

I started the next morning by getting up and again preparing my heart. A lot of this was in preparation for hearing from the Lord.

I started worship by playing some worship music and then I read some Psalms aloud.

Now, if you’ve never done this, this is more than just reading the Bible to yourself. There’s power in speaking God’s Words out loud.

I got some verses that focused on the greatness of God, and I read them out loud to myself in the quietness of the room.

Before you start asking for things and requesting God of things, it’s good to start by saying, “Lord, You are so good.” I was speaking out His word with my own mouth. That’s how I started the morning.

8:15am – Present Your Requests to God

At that point, I sat down, got my journal out and I started to pray for God’s direction, so I started praying for direction with a verse: Psalms 31:3 says, “You are my rock and my fortress for the honor of Your Name, lead me and guide me.”

Related: Tips for a More Consistent Prayer Life

See, God wants to guide you.

He wants to lead you.

He wants to be the One that directs your life.

So all that time of preparation, I was repenting, worshiping the Lord, reading His Word, it was all leading up to this time of my personal prayer retreat.

And just like that verse says, I started praying for direction.

I wrote down the things that I heard God was telling me, speaking to my heart. I presented my needs to The Lord.

The Bible says over and over that God sees us as His children and He wants us to come to Him with those requests. So I wrote those needs down as detailed as I could.

8:45am – Inspired Brainstorming

After that, I wrote down some things that I felt the Lord was speaking to me.

Because I had been preparing my heart all this time, I was ready to the Lord was speaking into my life. He was speaking to my heart and that’s what I really wanted out of this personal prayer time.

After that time of direction and really just seeking the Lord and sharing my request with Him, I did what I like to call inspired brainstorming.

I felt that the Lord was leading me in a particular direction, so I got out my prayer journal and I started writing all of these things that the Lord was bringing to my mind.

God will give you creativity.

He is the creator. He created the universe and we’re made in His image. He has given us abilities and talents, and part of that is the ability to create.

And so I started brainstorming things, lists.

As you know if you’re reading this…I’m a blogger, so I began writing out ideas that I knew that the Lord wanted me to share with you, my readers.

Inspired brainstorming means we let our imagination flow through the Lord’s guidance.

11:45am – Worship & Teaching & Thanksgiving

After that time and it seems like they were quick steps, but the time where God was speaking to me and directing me in this time of inspired brainstorming lasted three or four hours that morning.

I had already planned with the hotel to have a late checkout, so I was allowing myself the time to hear from the Lord.

After that, I spent some time in worship again and I also listened to a sermon that was on my computer. I had picked out sermons that I knew would speak to my heart.

Let the Lord guide you, if He wants you to spend more time in worship and that’s where you need to go.

If He has a message for you that someone else has given that you can benefit from, then that would be a perfect time.

After I listened to that, I did some stretching and really just moved to my body a little bit and exercise a little bit and then I ended my time with thanksgiving. I thanked the Lord for meeting with me. For sharing His heart with me, and for leading me and directing me.

12:30 – Get ready to head home

And then after that I got ready for the day, kind of cleaned up and got ready to go. So the biggest part of all of this was to prepare my heart first, then hear from the Lord.

But that’s not the end because when you go on a personal prayer retreat, you come back ready to act, ready to be the hand of God.

So was it just enough to prepare my heart? It wasn’t just enough to hear from the Lord, but I needed to come back home with the knowledge that I’m going to make a difference.

I’m going to act on what He has taught me. I’m going to change my life in the way that He has specifically shared in this time, and that’s something that I don’t want you to forget about.

Whenever you plan a personal prayer retreat, I want you going for a specific reason. You were created with a purpose and that purpose is to act so as we become the hands and feet of God.

As we go to Him and He shows us what He wants us to do, we have a responsibility to act.

 

A Few Additional Tips:

To Fast or not to Fast?

I wasn’t planning on fasting (actually had planned on ordering some room service while I was there.)

But once I got into the process of prayer, I found that I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t focused on myself at all and I definitely didn’t want to waste the time I had.

I wasn’t focused on food and so I ended up fasting the entire time that I was there. I ate right before I got to the hotel and then I ate after I left, so I wasn’t fasting for a huge amount of time. Mainly it was just for breakfast, but it’s completely up to you if you want to take snacks with you.

If you want to take water with you, certain snacks, drinks or coffee or something, feel free to do that.

Don’t confine yourself to one spot.

The next tip that I would have is to make sure that you’re not just confining yourself to one space.

You can kneel, stand, walk, any of those things to really just keep your mind focused on the task at hand.

During the repentance part of my prayer retreat, I had planned on kneeling and I did because there’s something about surrendering. There’s something about getting on your knees before the Lord and just kneeling before Him and say, “Lord, I am nothing without You.” So during my repentance time, I definitely was kneeling at a chair in the hotel.

Whenever I was worshiping, I would walk, sway back and forth, lifting my hands, worshiping the Lord.

Whenever I was reading, I was usually sitting either on the bed or the chair that was in the hotel room. So don’t feel like you’re confined to one space.

Use tools and resources

The next tip I have is to don’t limit yourself to only the Bible and your prayer journal if you that.

Those are the places that you need to start for sure, but if you want to expand your knowledge, you can be inspired by sermons online.

You can be inspired by Christian books and Bible Studies that you have used in the past.

And I actually have a Bible study that was birthed out of this prayer time called, Walking in Confidence.

It’s about changing the way that you see yourself from having a low self esteem, to being able to walk in the confidence that only God can give.

If you’re interested in checking that out, click HERE but whatever you do, make sure that you aren’t just going with no plan.

If you’re just taking your Bible and are prayer journal, that is completely fine. Just make sure that you have a plan for what you’re going to be reading.

If you don’t go with a plan, you’ll end up searching through, picking random Scriptures and then end up frustrated and not really experiencing the benefits of something like this.

Go off the grid

My last tip for you is to turn off your phone.

Make sure that you are a distraction free.

You’re not cruising on social media. You’re not taking a picture of yourself at your prayer retreat and posting it. This is about you and the Lord. This is about experiencing Him, taking time out from the world to meet with Him. So turn off your phone,

Let your husband or whoever is taking care of your kids know how to get a hold of you, maybe give them the hotel number or if you’re at a retreat center, make sure that they can get a hold of you if there’s a huge emergency.

But in my experience, for the small amount of time that you’re going to be there, you can be alone with the Lord without distractions.

Whenever you turn off your phone, that’s definitely going to help you stay distraction free.

 

Give yourself the gift of Time with Jesus

Thank you so much for joining me as I share my heart about really being intentional about spending your time with the Lord wisely.

I pray that this has sparked some desire in your heart to create a time for only you and Jesus.

Especially if you’re serving.

Especially if you’re a mother and you know that you’re kind of depleted in that area.

Make sure that you take the time. It doesn’t have to be something huge. It doesn’t have to be multiple nights. It doesn’t even have to be as long as mine was. Just take the time, maybe an evening or morning where you send your kids off, or where your husband’s at work, and you can take that time to spend with the Lord.

I really feel so strongly about this that I created an agenda for you to print off to get a head start.

Click HERE to download this free resource.

This a resource that just gives you an agenda to kick off your personal prayer retreat and I’ve also left some spots open where you can fill in your own things to do! Make sure you grab that (free of charge) just as my gift to you for joining me today and I will see you next time!

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