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Personal Time With God

Ron Habermas

Professional ministry can be draining and ministry leaders often let their own time with God slip through the cracks. Here's a guide for spending a few hours alone with God...

It's time to kick back and do nothing but be renewed. Schedule a few hours for just you and God.

Location is key. Get away to a park or someplace where you can totally unwind. If you must stay in a familiar surrounding, such as your home, thoroughly isolate yourself. Unplug the phone and television; make arrangements for the kids and don't let the doorbell interrupt you.

Pack a healthy snack, such as a water bottle, fruit, and nuts. Take this article, a Bible, a pen, and a notepad. Blessed are those who plan to take a walk for part of their retreat! Wear loose clothing and good support shoes. Prepare yourself on the way to your retreat site by listening to praise music.

The Retreat

The Apostle Paul challenges us to follow his example as he follows the example of Christ. The purpose of this personal spiritual retreat is to help you follow Christ's example of getting away for rest and renewal. Christ knew he needed to get away from it all now and then to be able to withstand the pressures and stress of ongoing ministry. The four areas of your life that this retreat will focus on are mental, physical, social, and spiritual.

Mental -- Although Jesus was fully God, he was also fully human. We forget that Jesus often learned the same way we do-by reading, observing, and interacting with people. In John 15:15, Jesus explains to his disciples: "for everything that I learned from the Father I have made known to you." Jesus admits that God regularly taught him.

Dive into a little R and R-not just Rest and Relaxation-but Reflection and Reaction. If it helps, take a walk. Meditate on the following:

  1. What have you recently learned from God? What new insights can you praise God for in your life?
  2. Read Philippians 4:8. Think about each word in this verse. For each word, think of things in your life that would fit that category. Enjoy having your mind crammed with good thoughts.
  3. Sing praise songs to God. Or write a poem or letter of thanksgiving to God.
  4. Jot down one way to mentally recharge yourself-on a regular basis-that you can do when you get back to your daily routine; for example, you may read a book, take a class, or listen to tapes in your car.

Physical -- Like us, Jesus experienced every physiological need. For instance, once he was so exhausted that he slept soundly in a small boat at sea during a violent storm. In contrast to the pictures of Jesus we often see, his human body didn't come equipped with a halo!

  1. Read Mark 6:30-32. How are you getting the necessary rest you need-the same "rest" Jesus required of the apostles? How can you plan to get this rest daily? Brainstorm ideas for weekly, monthly, and annual getaways with your family, a good friend, or by yourself.
  2. Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. What does it mean that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? What things in your life would make the Holy Spirit uncomfortable to live within you? What can you do to change those things?
  3. Eat the snack you prepared. With each bite, praise the Lord for food. Thank God for your health and physical strength. Sense God's presence within you!

Social -- Jesus enjoyed getting away from the crowds, but he also enjoyed a good party. Jesus went to banquets, weddings, parties, and more. He was even condemned for how much fun he liked to have-as though fun is unholy!

  1. Read John 2:1-12. What social gatherings do you attend? How often in the last few months have you been too busy to do anything except children's ministry? How do you connect with friends on a regular basis?
  2. Jesus traveled with a cadre of people. Who are the people on your ministry team? Who's on your support team-people who pray for and encourage you? Thank God for these individuals by name. How can you strengthen your relationship with these people? If you don't have a team, who are people you could ask to join you?
  3. Identify one or two people from your team and plan to have lunch with these people this week. Let them know how important they are to you.

Spiritual -- In Luke 2:52, we see the big picture of Jesus' growth: "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." From childhood, Jesus kept growing in his relationship with God the Father. Jesus spent tons of quality time in prayer, conversing with God and seeking him.

  1. Read Psalm 91. Focus on God. Meditate on the ways that he has been at work in your life, your family, and your ministry. Thank God for the ways he has guided you, protected you, and walked with you through the good and bad times in the last few months.
  2. Read Mark 9:14-29. What are your current question marks of faith? List each question or doubt. Be honest before God. Seek God's wisdom for your struggles. Note anyone God may bring to mind for you to get advice from later.
  3. Read Philippians 2:1-18. After each verse, ask the Holy Spirit to help you evaluate whether these characteristics are true of you or not. If not, ask God to build these things into your life.
  4. Read Philippians 4:4. What recent times of joy in the Lord can you recall? Thank God for these times. How has this joy caused you to grow spiritually? What things rob you of joy? How can you rejoice in the Lord always?
  5. Thank God for meeting with you today. Plan a date and time for your next retreat.

Ron Habermas is a professor of biblical studies in Arkansas. Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to change.

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