It certainly does Cynthia Hyle Bezek, editor of Pray! magazine and author of Come Away With Me, a slender little book that greatly expands our understanding of prayer times with God. This doesn’t mean spending time reading prayer books such as this one or talking about God but instead involves a unique with time with God in prayer where we “aim to include God in every thought, word, song, or act.”
Every Christian can surely benefit from mini-vacations with God, but for Christian poets and writers, a prayer retreat can mean the difference between casting about for the next topic to write about then writing off the top of our heads or being quiet long enough to hear God before writing from the Holy Spirit within. But how do we get there? How do we find that inner quieting where we can truly listen?
Whether we have a prayer retreat in a friend’s unoccupied home or a motel by the sea or a rustic cabin deep in the woods or a few hours home alone, we use any locale to “meditate on a single word of Scripture, a verse, or an entire passage. We can choose an aspect of God’s character, such as His patience or justice, and ponder that deeply.”
The author also encourages us “to experiment with new styles of prayer or to just enjoy uninterrupted time with the ones you already appreciate,” such as the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, “lingering over each phrase and personalizing it according to where you are in life at that moment.”
Other suggestions include journaling, writing a letter to God, or dialoguing with God about a specific concern then writing down everything God puts on your mind. If you’re drawn to interceding for others, you might use “a map to help you pray for the nations of the world,” letting “the Holy Spirit guide you as you take your time to pray for missionaries, friends, political situations, natural disasters, and so on.”
For me, that would mean praying for church unity, praying for healing in the Body of Christ, praying for an outpouring of love over Christians from every denomination in every part of the world. And, as a Christian poet and writer, another prayer priority would be to ask God’s guidance over our work and empowerment of our words in Jesus’ Name.
As we aim to interact with God on a spiritual and mental or contemplative level, we might also “Get Physical,” which the author suggests as we “Try a new prayer posture,” even lying prostrate, or we “Prayerwalk the neighborhood,” praying for our neighbors as the Holy Spirit guides. Or we “Dance before the Lord” as David did or “Take communion” and “meditate on the Lord’s body and blood….”
The author suggests a group retreat, too, and gives a sample schedule, but a private, overnight retreat might be impromptu if "you feel overwhelmed, overworked, stressed, or scattered” or if “you have an important decision to make” or if you need insight or as the author says, “your spouse, teenager, roommate, colleague, or dog tells you that you need one.”
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, pray-er and poet-author of Living in the Nature Poem and Outside Eden