Finding Retreat

by Beth Richardson on August 20, 2012 · 42 comments

Bike in front of cottage, Isle of Man

“Solitude is obviously intended to be far more than just being physically alone. It is the way we form a habit of retreat, creating a space and a time when God can speak to us. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have some place in your house that could become a place of retreat. Some people have a favorite walk that becomes a “prayer walk.” Every large city, despite the noise and crowds, has places of great solitude and peace. Often city center churches are examples of this. What is certain is that if we create a place where we can regularly turn to God, [God] will meet us there. There, as Amma Syncletica said, “it is possible to be a solitary in one’s mind while living in a crowd.” Time spent with God in solitude will always bring a harvest. The problems we have outside the solitude will seem different when we return to them refreshed and strengthened. The surer sense of our relationship with Christ that solitude brings spills over into everything else we do. When Moses came down from his solitude on Mount Sinai, his face shone (Exod. 34:29-35). For you, too, solitude can be a place of transfiguration, a meeting place with the living God.”

—From The Interior Mountain: Encountering God with the Desert Saints by Simon Peter Iredale1

Getting away to a completely secluded and silent place may be too much pressure to place upon ourselves in the fast-paced lives we lead. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a difficult time finding complete stillness in your life. There are many subtle, yet powerful, ways to retreat from the hustle and spend some time in stillness with God.

Ways to Retreat

  • Turn off your phone for an hour or two (or three!)
  • Take a walk outside by yourself
  • Try driving in the car without music or talk radio
  • Instead of turning on the TV in the morning, try waking up with silence (and coffee!)
  • Spend a weekend without checking your email or Facebook page
  • Go out and eat lunch by yourself in a restaurant (“Table for one, please!”). You may be surprised at how much you enjoy the company.

What are some other ways to retreat from the busyness of life and find some quiet communion with God? You are invited to search for the quiet spaces this week. We would love for you to share your experiences with our community.

Art Credit: Brand X Pictures / ThinkStock

1 Adapted from The Interior Mountain by Simon Peter Iredale. (c) 2000 Abingdon Press. Adapted by permission. Quoted on pp. 343-344 of A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job. Copyright © 2003 by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission of Upper Room Books.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

betsy August 20, 2012 at 6:09 am

Early each morning, I gather my coffee, computer and prayer journal and go either to a comfortable chair in my den, or out on my back porch. There, I read my Upper Room Daily Reflections, devotional and spend time with God. I let the words read flow over and through me, listening for God in them. I make notes and thoughts in my journal, and I rest in Him who does much for me throughout the day.


Alizabeth Rasmussen August 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I feel very fortunate to have a whole room in my house for my “retreat space.” Each day I take some time – usually just before bed – to pray. Sometimes the prayer takes the form of yoga, sometimes writing, sometimes reading, sometimes just resting in the silence.

It’s taken some time for this to become a habit, though, and I had to learn the hard way that just having the space is not an automatic guarantee that it will be used. It’s less about the logistics of where and when and how and more about the intention and commitment to the practice, even on days when I don’t feel like it.

I love the ideas you’ve shared here. I’m going to see if I can find a church or two close to work!


ILONA August 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I love my office. It is my retreat when no one else is at work. Today I am the only one here and it is my space to enjoy and savour and thank God for my vocation and for all the joys life offers -even the ones we need to labour for. Thank you so much for your ministry. I am reading the emails as often as I can.


Jeanne August 25, 2012 at 7:21 am

Although I live alone and enjoy solitude almost constantly, I have an “upper room” in my home that is my retreat. My chair is beside the window, which looks out into an abundance of beautiful trees; as often as possible I have the window open to hear the sounds of nature (an incredible blessing, considering that my home is in a large city) and to feel a gentle breeze. I even have a coffemaker in the room! It’s become such a habit to go there for Morning Watch that I wouldn’t dream of sleeping in and missing it. I read, pray, and journal, drink coffee, enjoy nature, and occasionally make room for one of my cats, who also seem to appreciate the peacefulness. I enjoy the online Upper Room devotionals as well as those from The Two Listeners, in addition to my devotional books.


Raymond August 26, 2012 at 5:02 am

Every morning my day starts with a cup of coffee, my prayer beads, and my “Buddog” by my side. This is the only time he is alowed on the couch with me as he too seems to enjoy the solitude I find/seek when communing with my Savior. I’m changing over from the ritualistic,repetitive prayers and communing with God on a more personal level. I’m trying to improve my prayer life by stiring the atmosphere aloud and then listening to God’s voice in the silence. I ask that my life and actions be a reflection of Christ’s life.


Mary maloney December 23, 2013 at 7:08 am

This is the morning time when I usually am awake and have for years come to this quiet room to do my Alive Now devotion on line and in print. I thank God YOU are here when I am– with wonderful resources to bring God’s Peace and messages from the Word. God answers God’s Promises and I just need to be intentional and yes Quiet to hear all the Blessings. Thank you for being ” light in the darkness shining” this Christmas. My Love and Prayers Always, Mary


Karen Lee December 24, 2013 at 5:54 am

Every morning I wake up super early and immediately go to what I call my “alter”. It is comprised of a desk, chair, gratitude journal,cup of coffee, laptop (for reading several of my daily spiritual messages, including this one). I light a candle and play zen type music very softly, barely audible. It sets a tone for me for my day. I have found this routine to be a wonderful way to allow myself some alone time with my higher power every day.


Sheri December 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I have Chronic Fatigue so I spend a good deal of time resting. During the early years of my disease, I resented this down time as it felt imposed upon me. More and more, I look at it as a sanctuary and use the time to pray, sort through things going on in my life and release them to God, write/draw in my journal and read inspirational texts.


Sheri December 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I have Chronic Fatigue so I spend a good deal of time resting. During the early years of my disease, I resented this down time as it felt imposed upon me. More and more, I look at it as a sanctuary and use the time to pray, sort through things going on in my life and release them to God, and write/draw in my journal and read inspirational texts.


Ken January 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

There is an amazing story in the book “The Grace Outpouring” by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts that tells the story of the Ffald-y-Brenin retreat centre in Wales. It has inspired me to encourage two Charitable Trusts in Timaru NZ that I support to develop what I call “retreat spaces.” People walking or biking the wetlands tracks of one, or the other, a countryside youth campsite developed by a presbyterian youth group some 50+ years ago can cater for groups, individuals or families can just come to enjoy and retreat into the atmosphere of God’s creation.
My “quiet times” of retreat often come after (or before) a work day of maintenance or weed eating and it is amazing how the stillness of that “retreat” in that “creation” seeps through to strengthen and refresh both the weary soul and body!
Shalom to all you who gather in this “Alive Now” space! Ken.


Beth Richardson January 26, 2015 at 8:32 am

Shalom to you also, Ken.



Jenica January 25, 2015 at 6:16 am

I am somewhat new to creating a retreat practice. I came upon this website in my process of doing so. I am enjoying creating my own spiritual practice to carry me through the week. I have young children so I am very flexible in my daily practice. Sometimes it consists of listening to meditations in a hot bath with candles, laying down in a quieter part of the house and clearing my mind and listening for truths writing them down as they come, sitting in my kitchen every morning with my tea watching the birds excitedly eat the seed I offer them, anytime I wake through the night I’ll write the meanings I catch from my dreams then doze back off by reading truths or listening to a meditation, and writing my feelings and love toward God as love notes I know He reads. Thank you for sharing your beautiful ideas!


Beth Richardson January 26, 2015 at 8:30 am

Thank you, Jenica, for sharing your story. Many blessings,


bonnie francis August 15, 2015 at 2:03 pm

I have a short country road on my way into town that is somehow pristinely quiet even though it settles between an interstate and very busy state highway. Pulling off the road there, lowering my driver’s side window and breathing deeply, can recharge my soul with God in prayer more than anything else (except perhaps grandchildren!). Coupled with a special chair at home that watches over the front yard bird feeder, a special corner at Barnes & Noble and a dozen more that are sacred because God and I have talked there. The “places” are everywhere and only need me to use them so in my heart/mind. Thanks for this reminder of how close God is always!


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