Planning Your New Year Prayer Retreat
“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” –Proverbs 16:3
It’s the New Year, the perfect time to pause and get God’s perspective on the coming year. One way to do that is by taking a New Year prayer retreat. It’s the perfect time to get away, seek the Lord, soak in the Word, and listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say. Here are some steps to get you started.
- Plan the Length of Your Prayer Retreat
Decide how long your retreat will be. It can be a day, a weekend or longer, depending on what your schedule will allow. If this is your first prayer retreat, be realistic about the amount of time you will be comfortable and focused. Although it’s easy to imagine a weeklong retreat, if you’ve never done it before, it may be a too ambitious for your first time out. Instead, start small to ensure you have a rewarding time with the Lord. It is also quite possible that you will be unable to get away for a long stretch because of family and job commitments. If a one-day prayer retreat is all you can commit to this year, then make the most of it.
- Plan the Location
The goal of your prayer retreat is to slow down, remove distractions and commune with the Lord. If you can do that at home, then by all means, do it. However, if distractions make a home-based prayer retreat unrealistic, other options that work for your budget and location exist. Here are a few options:
- Local hotels
- Bed and breakfasts
- Cabins at a state park or campground
- Retreat centers.
- Plan Your Time
Your prayer retreat can consist of different expressions of prayer and spiritual refreshment. Different times of your day may include walking through nature as you allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you, or you may simply sit in solitude while enjoying the Lord’s creation or listening to praise and worship music. Other activities may include:
- Reading a teaching book
- Listening to an audio teaching by a trusted minister
- Playing music
- Participating in a creative outlet while you meditate on God’s Word (drawing, painting, knitting, crocheting, etc.).
Once you consider what you want to include in your prayer retreat, then it’s just a matter of scheduling your day. Here’s an idea of what one day could look like:
7-8 a.m. Wake up and get ready for the day
8-9:30 a.m. Breakfast and Bible study
9:30-11 a.m. Prayer
11 a.m.-noon Read teaching book
Noon-1 p.m. Lunch
1-2 p.m. Nature walk
2-4 p.m. Prayer
4-6 p.m. Read teaching book
6- 7 p.m. Dinner
7-9 p.m. Prayer
9-11 p.m. Read Bible/Journal
11 p.m. Bedtime
Remember, this is only a sample day. Your prayer retreat may make more time for deeper Bible study, nature walks while you pray or praise and worship. The goal is not to re-create this—or any other schedule—but to make your retreat a personal expression of worship. It is a good idea to go in with an idea of how you want to schedule your time and possibly even bring a timer (or timer app on your smartphone) so that you can easily move from one activity to the next. Of course, your schedule can adjust as the Holy Spirit moves.
- Plan What You Will Pray
There may be specific things that you want to bring before the Lord—goals for the upcoming year, direction for your family, ministry or job, or intercessory needs. It may be helpful to make a list of the things you want to talk to the Lord about so that you don’t forget.
- Plan What You Will Bring
In addition to necessities like clothes, equipment (if camping) and food (if picnicking/cooking), be sure to bring the tools you need to have a successful retreat. Here’s a list to get you started:
- Instrument/praise and worship music
- Teaching books for study
- Bible study materials (concordance, Bible study notes, commentary)
- Backpack (if planning a walking prayer time)
- Water bottle
If you have never before taken a prayer retreat, this may be the year you begin a new life-giving tradition. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you how to plan your new adventure so that you can enjoy a special time of spiritual renewal and hearing from the Lord.