Days Away: My Prayer Retreat

I don’t pray because I should.  I pray because I have to.That is, I am so desperate and needy for God that I have to seek Him with all my being.  Which leads me try to have a prayer retreat every few months.  I need focused TIME with God.I started out with weekends, but the older I get, the more I need.  Now I’m up to 4-6 days.  So do I pray for 4-6 days?  All day, every day?  Yes and no.  Let me explain.I almost always go to the beach.  I love the sound of the waves, watching the waves, walking on the beach, and I have several friends with beach houses they loan to me--all within an hour away.My days are mostly the same:  Mornings (and maybe into the afternoon) are for time in the Word, praying, walking on the beach, listening to God, writing in my journal.  Afternoons would often be writing or working on a message.  Evenings are for reading—which I love but rarely have time for.Prayer walks are really a good way to break it up--people probably think I'm crazy as I carry on conversations with "no one."  At least they can't hear me over the waves.Alternating time in the Word, praying, reading and walking help to keep me from getting bored or falling asleep.The focus is different each day.  The first day is always focused on me and the Lord.  I try to listen to what He wants to say to me.  I tell Him all that is on my mind and heart.On day 2 I focus on my family—spending deep and extended time bringing them before the Lord.  Sometimes I write a blessing for one or two of them.Day 3 is for those in my immediate sphere:   staff and their families, prayer teams, friends, church.  And Day 4 is for the rest of the world.  If I get another day, I just keep going or I focus on specifics the Lord leads me to.  And if the Lord leads in another direction, it can all change.I usually fast for 1-3 of the days, depending on different things.  That adds an additional depending-on-the-Lord dimension.These are not rules—there is no required structure.  Having a plan helps me get the most out of the time, but flexibility is key to hearing from the Lord and enjoying the time.I often get asked how I can be alone for that long.  Well, I’m an introvert in an extrovert job, so this time alone is essential for my recharging and refreshing.  Do I get afraid being alone?  No.  I have others things I get fearful of—going over high bridges, for one--but being alone at the beach is not one of them.These days are treasured time for long conversations with my Lord,  hearing from God, asking Him for what is on my heart, reading, reflecting, refreshing.    Highlights of my life!c Judy Douglass