Mark Alan Williams
Who Needs A Vision Retreat?
Recently I went on a two night prayer and planning “vision retreat” to prepare for the upcoming year. The mountain retreat center is about an hour’s drive from our home.
This is from one of the prayer walks I took on my recent vision retreat
It was a wonderful two days! During that time I reviewed my life purpose, my goals, and my progress toward who I want to be and what I want to do. I set new visions, made new goals and planned my direction for the future. I came back highly motivated, excited about the future, and very targeted to accomplish what is most important to me for the upcoming months and year.
I’m a strong believer in vision retreats, and I think everyone should go on prayer and planning retreats at least yearly, if not more often. Here’s why:
It is much easier to have a better perspective when you are out of your normal surroundings and routines. As the saying goes, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. When we step back we have a better perspective and can more easily think about possibilities instead of problems.
Many of us are just plain exhausted. We need a chance to catch our breath. A vision retreat can give us time for some rest, for some peace and quiet, and some needed sleep.
Getting away allows us to get away from many of the normal concerns of life: maintenance and house cleaning, paying bills, disciplining the children, feeding the dog, fixing the car and so on. Separating from these routines allows us to focus on what is most important: purpose, vision, dreams, direction, and goals.
If we want God’s direction for our lives, we have to consider how God speaks to us. Typically he doesn’t shout. Instead, he speaks through a “still small voice” or a “gentle whisper” (see 1 Kings 9:11-13). Peaceful quietness allows us to hear God’s whispers.
Consider the example of Jesus: “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16 ESV). If going away to pray was important for Jesus, it ought to be vitally important for us!
In my opinion and experience, a nature setting is the most beneficial place for a vision retreat. There is something about nature that inspires us, makes us think big, and brings peace to our cluttered and troubled minds.
I love to take prayer walks interspersed with indoor prayerful envisioning and goal planning. Often my most inspirational prayers are in the most awe inspiring locations in nature.
When you have a major decision to make, a prayer retreat provides the greatest time not only to get away, but to focus and carefully make decisions or make progress toward resolution. Scripture says, “In these days he [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13 ESV).
If Jesus chose to go away and pray (all night!) before making a big decision, what might you need to do?
Click here to read my blog about overcoming objections to taking a vision retreat.
Click here to read my blog with an agenda for your Vision Retreat titled 7 Steps to a Productive Vision Retreat