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 | By Candace Bryant-Lester

Spend some quality time with God

In a previous column titled “Got time to pray?” we discussed a few ideas for people who are short on time but recognize the need for prayer. But perhaps you’ve finally reached a place where you’re able to dedicate more time to prayer or even participate in a retreat. How blessed are you!


“What if I have a morning or afternoon available to pray?”

To start, find a place that is quiet, beautiful or speaks to you in a special way. If you can make it to a park, somewhere along water, somewhere in the mountains or woods, or even just a calm and quiet room at home, you’ll have a wonderful place for a mini-retreat.

Then, pick a theme for the day: gratitude, loss, forgiveness, making prayer more fruitful, discerning, relationships, etc. Depending on the theme, you may want to pick up a book, podcast or Bible study to help guide your day.

“I have some vacation time coming up and would like to spend it drawing closer to God.”

Lucky you! Whether you have a weekend or a whole week, you have options:

  1. Directed retreat: Meet daily with a director and celebrate liturgy with others.
  2. Preached retreat: Conferences will be preached and liturgy celebrated. There will also be scheduled quiet and prayer times.
  3. Private retreat: Just like above, you can do it yourself, and the schedule and agenda are up to you.

For formal retreats, realize that there are three people involved: the retreat director; you (alongside your attitude and willingness to participate); and the Holy Spirit. Give yourself plenty of quiet, prayerful time during the retreat.

DIY your own retreat

No matter if it’s a day, weekend or longer, you’ll want to consider the following for building your own retreat:

  • The topic or theme
  • Acquiring appropriate reading and listening materials
  • Finding music to lift the spirit and contemplate
  • Time to rest
  • Opportunities to walk alone with God often
  • Listen, listen, listen

You may want to consider the opportunity to celebrate Mass as part of the day. Is there a parish nearby you can attend for the daily Mass before returning to your retreat space?

Here’s an overview of a possible retreat day:

  1. Start by enjoying breakfast. Slow down and think of the things we take for granted – food, clean water, warmth, clean air. Take a moment to offer thanks for the basics.
  2. Take some quiet time to listen to the silence. Remember, God is often speaking to us in this silence we tend to avoid.
  3. Contemplate your chosen theme and listen. You don’t grow into deeper prayer without contemplation.
  4. Speak with a spiritual director. Read your chosen book or Bible passages. Listen to a podcast appropriate to the theme of the retreat.
  5. Go for a walk. Enjoy the surrounding nature. Appreciate God’s work.
  6. Savor lunch. Read and rest.
  7. Listen to some uplifting or contemplative music. Pray with it.
  8. Before retreat’s end, spend more time in contemplation to decide where the Lord is leading you next.

Most importantly, invite the Holy Spirit to guide your way. God wants to speak to us – all we need is to pause and listen.