Silence in a busy and demanding world
Silent Prayer Retreats have been a feature of KBC’s ministry program over the last few years and with the Men’s Silent Retreat coming up in October, a few of the ladies take the time to comment on their experiences at a retreat.
Rest — at last!
I was challenged last year when I felt God tell me to go to the Silent Prayer Retreat. Silence is not something that comes naturally for me. But I went anyway, and I did hear God whisper to me in the midst of the silence. However, after a day’s silence I was bursting and could barely wait to speak again. I left the weekend thinking ‘well that was nice, but it wasn’t really me. I don’t think I’ll go again.’ So you can imagine my surprise when I felt God tell me to go again this year. I left work on the Friday in a rather frantic way. Work was busy. Life was busy. I was stressed to the max! A weekend away was not something that I really had time for, yet God knew that it was something I desperately needed. After getting home late, I threw a few things into a bag before rushing off to get there. Rush, rush, rush! And then I walked into Mercy Place and there was peace. I stopped. It was so good to fi nally stop. Shortly after arriving, I ran into a friendly face and was embraced, and that was it. Weeks and months worth of seemingly never ending demands finally spilled over into tears. I was worn out and fi nally I could stop. Finally I could get still and silent and alone. Rest, at last. Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 11 have always stopped me: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” A promise from God to me; and to anyone who will go to Him.
I left the Silent Prayer Retreat this year refreshed and encouraged. God spoke to me. He lifted my burden and gave me rest. He did a work on the inside as I took time out and made myself available to Him. He embraced me with His love. He restored my soul.
And here I am again a couple months on. Life is still busy and stressful. And whilst I write this article I can’t help but think that another time of silence away from my usual environment wouldn’t go astray! Let us embrace the opportunities to do something that isn’t about performance but about rest. Something a little out of the ordinary. Something you may not have done or really enjoyed before. You may be pleasantly surprised (as I was this year) with how much God can achieve when we don’t really do anything!
Fellowship — more than just talking!
I had never experienced or even thought of a silent retreat before, but the idea of a RETREAT sounded great. I am a wife and the mother of three children with our fourth on the way, and I thought I could do with a day apart. Seemingly my husband thought so also, as he agreed to do all the running around that Saturday. We had been attending services at KBC on and off this year and had met a few people, but I did have a chuckle at the information letter stating the hope that we would have a good time of fellowship — all without talking! It just goes to show that fellowship is more than talking, as I felt a deep spirit of fellowship, even with women I had never seen before, perhaps because we had each taken the time out to seek God together.
I have often struggled to maintain the discipline of a regular ‘time out with God’, even before having a family, and it was refreshing to use silence and solitude to be available to hear God’s Spirit speaking into my life. Not only was it a good opportunity to lift my husband and children to God in prayer and bring my burdens to Him, but I really felt God was wanting to speak to me in love and encouragment. It was like I only kept the door of my heart open a little, but God was wanting to bless me more than that, and all I needed to do was open the door a little wider, then a little wider still. In the gentleness of the day, God was speaking to my heart, not so much of His greatness and power, but of His gentle love for me, to cleanse and to heal me, to build me up and encourage me. It was then that the scripture from Ephesians 3:14 – 21 really spoke to me about ‘God strengthening with power through his Spirit in the inner being’ and I was able to pray this scripture in intercession for people and situations extending from my own home and family. Thanks be to God. It really is God Himself in the Spirit who leads us and draws us deeper and closer to God the Father and the Son. The time and space were lovely — many thanks to the workers at the Mercy Centre. Also, the thoughtfulness and care of those facilitating the day was evident, from the welcome at KBC through each of the stations we could choose to spend time at.
I would surely love to attend another retreat, but more than that, the women’s silent retreat has given me a greater hunger to be still in moments through the day, and REMEMBER THE LORD. I want to keep opening that door wider to Him who, as it says in Revelation 3:20, stands at the door and knocks wanting to come in, be with us and share a meal with us. I am encouraged that Jesus wants to come and be with me, but He also wants me to be with Him where He is too.
Healing and forgiving time
For those who may not know me – keeping silent is not the easiest thing for me. I love being around and socialising with others. My latest silent retreat was my third time to experience this awesome relationship with our Father in Heaven. Each time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this special time with God. Away from the hustle and bustle of life, away from the “Mum please can I do that? Mum can I please have this. It’s just God and I. He gets to have my sole attention for a change, Having a young family, attending the one-day Silent Prayer retreat was the most suitable option for myself in 2009. For me this latest Retreat was a healing and forgiving time. Unfortunately, in January of this year I was in the midst of major depression and had to be taken to hospital to recover. However, I soon learned God had a real purpose for me. This was revealed clearly in the Silent Prayer Retreat. This time not only allowed me to come to terms with what I experienced but what real purpose He had and who I needed to forgive.
As Christians, Jesus wants us to have real loving relationships with others. If we hold onto un-forgiveness towards others we are not able to continue to be real in our relationships and ensure we live our life with purpose as God intended it to be. I realised too, how we often miss the beauty in simple things created for us to enjoy, like a flower emerging from its bud, the wide expansion of trees nestled in the side of a hill. We miss these simple things as we are caught up in the busyness of life. I urge you next time you are walking to work or driving the car, look at the beauty the Lord has created for us to immerse in everyday. I thoroughly enjoy the silence despite being an extrovert. I have learned to “Be still and know that I am God”. This reinforces the importance of taking time to just listen, not talk or be busy. We are all too good, especially myself, at immersing in busyness. In these serene times take hold of this – talk to your Father in Heaven. He knows what we feel. He hurts when we hurt. He allow us our life experiences of hurt, sorrow, great times and fun times for us to grow in character and become at least a little bit more like Him.
I would highly recommend a Silent Prayer Retreat especially if you naturally enjoy your own space. It allows you to not just enjoy silence for yourself but with our mighty Father. If you are an extrovert, enjoy chatting to anyone and being busy, then take hold of these times to spend with just God. It allows no interruptions of phones, computers and our biggest interruptions – people. My first experience on the whole weekend Silent Prayer Retreat I recently had my second child. I took hold of this no interruptions, had a beautiful experience with the Lord and fell into a deep slumber. When I woke I felt renewed in His spirit.
So to all those busy mums who think they are not able to be away from their family, as they are needed at home — let God be your centre. Let Him take control of you in your silence with Him. It is in the quiet experiences with the Lord Jesus Christ that I have been renewed in strength and mind to enter back into my “crazy” world at home with a loving devoted husband, two beautiful boys, my gorgeous dog, a kitten, our budgie and fish. After taking care of all this for God I do get exhausted and I need a break in silence to reflect, pray and learn. Next time you see a men’s or women’s Silent Prayer Retreat advertised – sign up and put time aside for God and you will be pleasantly surprised.
MENS SILENT PRAYER RETREAT
30 October — 1 November
Does the busyness of daily life and the noise and crowding of modern society leave you wondering how to find enough time and space to develop your relationship with God? Does this busyness, noise and crowding cause frustration because it runs counter to your preference for greater intimacy with God? If you identify with this, perhaps the Mens’ Silent Prayer Retreat is the answer. For more information contact KBC.