…whose heart is set on pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5
Next week I will be going on a prayer retreat near our home—a spiritual pilgrimage. Someone asked if I really needed to do that—it hasn’t been that long since I went on my last prayer retreat. The answer is in this verse: “My strength is in You.” I am going away to be alone with the Lord and find strength in Him. That’s a good thing to do!
The entire verse says: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” (Psalm 84:5 NKJV)
People think that a pilgrimage has to mean traveling to an exotic sacred destination. Of course it’s wonderful when we can take a journey to the Holy Land or other special Christian destination or site. But the location is not the point in this verse and not the point of a pilgrimage.
The point of a pilgrimage is to do as this verse says, to find strength in the Lord. That is, to draw close to Him, seek Him, wait on Him, and just be with Him.
That can be done at a park, a camp, a beach, in the mountains, in a cabin, on a boat and so on.
The location is not the point. The journey is not the point. Spending time with our Lord is the point.
So what’s the benefit of a pilgrimage—going somewhere? A pilgrimage helps in several ways:
We get away from normal distractions of life; therefore, we can focus.
We spend extended time with our Lord
We seek Him in a more natural environment that He made, rather than our normal man-made artificial environment. This helps us to be drawn to our Creator.We do what Jesus did: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NIV)
When I go on my prayer retreat pilgrimage next week, I will likely do some prayer walks something like this picture. But I won’t be just hiking—I’ll be praying.
Most of the major decisions I have made in my adult life have come during such prayer times in prayer retreat type pilgrimages.
Usually these retreats have been local, but at least one major decision I made was on a pilgrimage to Greece. It was in the ancient city of Corinth in Greece that I felt God’s leading me to leave my first church plant after 13 years and start another new church.
That’s just one example.
Jesus set the example in prayer retreat pilgrimages as seen above. You’ll remember that Jesus spent an entire 40 days on an extended prayer retreat pilgrimage in the wilderness. (see Matthew 4:1-11)
In Matthew 14:23 we read that, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.” (NIV)
That’s what I’ll be doing. Going away to be alone with the Lord. That’s what I recommend to you.
For more help on this topic of prayer retreat pilgrimages see my articles:
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