matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, September 20, 2014
Silent Retreat—and Prayer
I went on a silent retreat today. It took place in a church in the middle of downtown. The busy downtown part of a suburb of Chicago. The first—and quite significant—thing the retreat leader, Jay Sivits, said to us at the beginning of the retreat was: “God is glad you came today, and made time in your busy schedules to be with Him.”
I thought about that for a while. God is glad I chose to be with Him today.
Not to get sidetracked in my busy schedule with other things (things I thought were more important than God). Not to worry or fret over things that are mostly—or totally out of my control (and, by the way, forget about God). Not to allow my mind and thoughts to be envious or prideful or angry or lustful—or any one of countless other sins (oh, and ignore God).
The written material in the retreat was excellent. I appreciated the prompts that helped me join this silent retreat fully. Concerns (about myself, others close to me, my work), weariness (of body, mind or spirit), distractions (that occupy or nag at my mind or heart) and fears (“what ifs,” outcomes, expectations). I was encouraged to bring any or all of these things to conscious awareness, as they came to mind, and set them aside. So I might fully enter into the retreat.
The morning focus was on Psalm 23, and the afternoon focus on John 10. As I considered and contemplated on the Good Shepherd, I also did some personal work. Some reflection. Digging. Assessment. Deep prayer and meditation. I don’t often get a chance to do this, but I am so glad I took the time. I am grateful that God gave me the time, and I was able to dig deep.
Some of it was peeling away layers, and uncovering buried thoughts and feelings. Sort of like when I used to rake up underneath my mom’s evergreen bushes in front, or along the side of the house by the underbrush. Raking vigorously uncovered a whole lot inside of me. A lot that I had covered over. Sometimes I covered up the thoughts and feelings in a hurry, and sometimes with sadness, or because I didn’t have more time to deal with them. Not necessarily really painful, but the raking—or digging—sure stirred up a lot of stuff inside of me.
I think this was one of the most valuable facets of this day of silent retreat for me. Thank You, God.
Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for the time I had to be with You today. Jay told me—told us that You are glad I chose to be with You today. I am so grateful and thankful that You chose to be with us today. You chose to be with me today. Dear Lord, help me to continue to dig deep, to continue to reflect and meditate and pray. Sincerely. Deeply. In spirit and in truth. In Your mercy and grace I pray. Amen.
(also published at www.matterofprayer.net