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Prayer Retreat 21st March, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Heart, Multnomah, Prayer, Rest.
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hardprayer.jpgWednesday 12th -Friday 14th was a Prayer Retreat for my Spiritual Formation class Prayer. It was part of what made my week stressful, because it stole the days that I usually get my work done, and so I found myself having to stay up late and get up early, and squeeze work into every break that I had.

The retreat itself was… not quite what I expected. And to be honest, I left somewhat disappointed with it, but that has more to do with my expectations of it, than the retreat itself.

The first exercise of the retreat was to write out our expectations of the retreat. I quickly filled my sheet of paper with the things I have come to expect when people come together to pray… time to pray, God to speak, people to be challenged, confession, edification… and so on. Once everyone had finished a trash can was placed in the middle of the room and we were asked to surrender our expectations of the retreat and allow God to have His way with it. I guess the problems started with me keeping a hold of some of those expectations.

Our Prayer class is a 3 credit class (which means we have class 3 hrs a week). Instead of that usual format, they have 2hrs a week for class and then a mandatory class prayer retreat which makes up the rest of the hours. I failed to think about that as I got ready to go… it wouldn’t be just a Prayer Retreat, but a Prayer Class Retreat.

When I threw out my expectations that first day, I thought the expectation that we would spend a lot of time in prayer would of course be fulfilled. But I was wrong – We spent a lot more time talking than we did praying… which was a HUGE frustration for me.

Because I hadn’t considered it to be a Prayer Class Retreat, I had failed to think of the Classroom aspects that would take place, and so we spent a lot of time discussing the materials we’ve been using in class, discussing and debriefing the”prayer projects” that we are working on, and voicing difficulties people are having with regards to their prayer time.

handonface.jpgOn the Thursday morning we had a lengthy discussion about cultural differences when it comes to prayer. A wonderfully passionate Brother from Rwanda voiced similar frustrations to mine as he explained how a prayer retreat works in his home country… lots of prayer and music, and little talk! But as we talked and talked about how much we, in the west, like to talk about prayer more than we do it, I got more and more frustrated about the fact we were talking and not praying! We do more to fix our prayer life when we pray, than when we sit around and talk about the fact we’re not praying enough.

The times we did pray were good. We had some guided exercises that walked people through an hour of prayer allowing them to pray for an hour solid, which sadly for many was a new experience!? We had time alone to pray but I felt somewhat stifled by the exercises, trying to stay open to learning new ways to pray. I made the most of it and enjoyed the time I got to call upon the Lord. We had an afternoon where we prayed for a little while calling out to God to soften our hearts to prayer and fill us with a longing to spend more time with Him. On the Thursday night there was a time of communion and a wonderful time of confession, where people laid themselves before God surrendering the things they were holding on to and allowing the rest of us to intercede for them.

The retreat was a great opportunity for the class to come together and experience a deeper sense of community, and challenged people to reflect on their prayer time. I found myself praying a lot during the discussion times, taking my frustrations to the Lord as I got riled up about how people can spend so much time complaining about their lack of prayer and the things they feel God wants them to change, but not doing it. I’m continuing to pray for them. I just hope that they don’t leave the prayer retreat and forget about the changes they felt challenged to make. Because so often that’s exactly what happens.

What did I learn over the retreat? I felt encouraged about my prayer life. The last 3 years has been a season in which God has been developing my habits of prayer, calling me to be known not only as someone who prays, but as someone who loves to pray. Through this class I am learning some new methods of prayer that I will use to encourage other people to increase the time they spend in prayer, but overall, I feel like my prayer life is in a good place, and that the way I pray currently is effective for me.

Regardless of how I felt about the retreat, God moved, and that is what matters. I’m planning to take a 3 or 4 day prayer retreat on my own, where I can switch off the world and spend the whole time on my knees the way I was hoping to over the course of this one.

A few years ago God challenged me to be in prayer more than I talk about prayer. If you’re someone who talks about prayer a lot, I challenge you to the same thing. When you find yourself in a discussion about prayer, stop, and pray for a longer amount of time than you talked about it. When someone asks you to pray for them, do it there and then, rather than waiting until later and opening yourself up to the possibility of forgetting. If you struggle praying… start! If you can pray for 2 minutes today, and do the same thing for the week, chances are by the end of the week you will be able to pray for 4!

Prayer transforms our lives, and creates opportunities for us to see God at work. If you really love God as much as you say you do, you would take the time to talk with him as you do any of the other people in your life who you enjoy being around.

Is pray a priority in your life?

Father, I thank you for the incredible gift you have given to us in allowing us to talk with you. It amazes me that anywhere, at any time, I can call upon your name with full assurance that you hear me. Increase our desire to pray. Convict us of our prayerlessness. Help us to make our time of prayer a priority, because it’s so easy to drop it down the list. I pray for those who were on the retreat, that you would grant them the grace to be changed. Remind them of the commitments they made and the issues that were raised. Guard them from the Evil One and his efforts to keep them where they are. Continue to call people to their knees to partner with you in seeing your will accomplished. I pray for my own heart, that you would continue to fix my eyes on you and fill me with a longing to be in your presence. Use the passion you have given me to encourage other people to pray. Guard me against pridefulness, keeping me walking humbly before you. Continue to keep these issues on my heart. Help us to realise the power of prayer. Help us to acknowledge our need to be in your presence. Thank you for the retreat and for the way you moved. May our lives bring you glory as we pray to you in the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen

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Comments»

1. jeremy - 24th March, 2008

Sometimes your writing is prophetic, and your counsel is Godly. I pray, I guess that’s what I want to say. You encourage us so well to Be like Christ and to Act as Christ and to Pray as Christ, it just does not get any more succinct as what you have written here. We who are blessed to come here and read truly see God moving in your life. I for one carry your teaching forwards into my life and into the lives of those I call friends.

Blessings
Jeremy

2. How Great is Our God « Work in Progress - 1st June, 2008

[…] watched this for the first time at my class prayer retreat back in March, and was completely blown away.  It’s a message spoken by Louie Giglio at one […]


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