Just days after publishing my last blog on “Who Needs a Vision Retreat?” a friend told me how thrilled he was that he had finally gone on a one day prayer retreat. He explained that he had meant to take a prayer retreat for a long time, but just let other things keep getting in his way.
This is the sunset view on my prayer walk at Pine Valley Camp
But now he was very excited about what had happened. He shared specifics about the renewed vision and new goals he had gotten from that day he spent in a state park. He said, “I’m going to set aside at least one day a month for a prayer retreat from now on—I don’t think quarterly will be enough.”
He thanked me for sharing the idea of prayer retreats.
Over the years I have taught on every inhabited continent except Antarctica — which is virtually uninhabited (except for a lot of penguins). In many countries I have spoken about the importance of prayer retreats and have found that it becomes an almost universally accepted concept.
The problem comes in implementation.
So now I would like to share answers to objections that keep people from going on prayer retreats.
My goal is to help you move from prayer retreats as just a good idea to actually planning and doing them.
Objection ONE: I can’t afford the financial expense of a getaway.
Answer: Based on the reasons I shared in my last article, I would say you actually can’t afford NOT to. You can find a way to make it happen. Do like my friend who went to a park for a day. Find an inexpensive retreat center. Go camping. One friend shared that he camped in the back of his pickup truck on a friend’s property—it was free. Church leaders might be able to find a “prophet’s chamber” (see 2 Kings 4:9-10).
You can find a way.
Objection TWO: I can’t afford the time.
Answer: Paul Becker, the founder of Dynamic Church Planting International (www.dcpi.org) says, “It is the most valuable time we spend in the year.” How can you not make time for what is most important and which Jesus made time for? Schedule it before anything else, otherwise the time will be taken and it will not happen. Schedule the dates on your calendar weeks and months ahead.
Objection THREE: I don’t know what to do.
Answer: Some might be afraid that they will go and find themselves twiddling their thumbs, staring at the wall, and just wasting time. A great answer here is to have an outline to follow. Look for one in my free eBook, Don’t Miss Your Life. I also wrote about what to do and give an agenda in my blog titled 7 Steps to a Productive Vision Retreat.
Objection FOUR: I am not a visionary.
Answer: For non-visionaries and non-goal setters, the best focus for a prayer retreat is often on problems to be solved. I’m a goal setter, but one of the most helpful things I reviewed on my recent retreat was my “Don’t Like” list of things that bother me; things that I would like to overcome or change. Everybody has these issues. Start there, and don’t be surprised if larger vision comes as well.
Objection FIVE: I have never done this and it is too late to start.
Answer: It is never too late to find the joy of prayer retreats. I want my latter days to be my most productive days if at all possible. I love a fresh experience with God. In fact as I get older I have more time and resources to allow retreats. I suggest you start with a shorter retreat of perhaps a half day or so and grow from there. That’s how I got started.
Objection SIX: I am afraid of what finding a new vision might mean.
Answer: Indeed, some people might chart a brand new course that will take them out of their comfort zone. Some might hear things from God that they would rather not face. But aren’t these actually really good things, in fact the best things? Do you really want to stay in a rut (or comfort zone)? Don’t you want to hear from God and change the things that He says are not the best for you?
Someone said that a rut is just a grave with the ends pushed out. Jesus said, “I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest” (John 10:10b CEV). It’s time to climb out of your rut and find God’s fresh and exciting vision for your life.
Application: Schedule your prayer retreat right now or at the least make scheduling it a top item in your to do list.