"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

Having a retreat day - Practical tips

Posted by Anne Witton on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 Under: Resources

In my last post, I shared with you a handy Retreat day guide which you can use to help you reflect when you have a day with the Lord. I thought it would also be good to explore some practical tips for making the most of a day set aside for God.

Over the years, I've found that having regular times where I choose to be alone with God has been a brilliant way to nurture my relationship with him, to grow spiritually and to enjoy "life in all its fulness" (John 10: 10). It's also been particularly helpful at significant crossroads in my life - for example when I was made redundant, or praying over career decisions. I now have a retreat day every month to help me focus on God and make him a priority. So here are my top tips for making the most of your retreat.

Before you go

  1. Have a plan. Make this at least the day before to minimise decision-making and procrastinating on the day. You will need to decide where to go, what to take and sketch out a timetable of what you're going to do when you get there.
  2. Have a wet weather plan. Unfortunately the British weather is highly unpredictable, so unless you're planning an exotic retreat to the Caribbean, it's good to have a wet weather alternative.
  3. Try to make sure you've got urgent work out of the way so you can have a clear head. It can also be helpful to set an 'Out of Office' reply on your email to let people know that you're not available.
What to take

This isn't an exhaustive list, and you may not need all these things, but here are some ideas. I find it helpful to avoid taking electronic gadgets so that I'm not distracted so I tend to go old school with pen and paper.

  1. Bible
  2. Bible study notes
  3. Pen and notepad
  4. Packed lunch
  5. Musical instruments
  6. Sketchbook
  7. Stuff for creative activities. This depends on your personality and how you worship / connect with God. You might want art materials, crafts, a camera etc.
  8. Worship CD / iPod for car
  9. You might want to make a scrapbook of your day and include written prayers, leaves you've collected, drawings etc.
Don't take your phone. If you need a phone for emergencies, buy a £10 pay-as-you-go phone and only give the number to family / emergency contacts.

Where to go

There are lots of great places to have a retreat day and you don't have to go miles away. I tend to have day retreats at the coast (even if it's raining, there's a car park in Whitley Bay right opposite the beach so I can sit looking out to sea with the windscreen wipers on!) and have also been to the local park, up into Northumberland and Alnwick Gardens. Here are some ideas:

  1. Park
  2. Museum
  3. Coast
  4. National Trust place
  5. Café
Remember to plan where to eat and also where you can be inside if it's wet / cold.

There are also dedicated Christian retreat centres - a quick Google search will show you the ones in your area. In the North East we have Shepherds Dene, Minsteracres and the Northumberland Community.

You may also want to go for more than a day, so could go to:

  1. B&B
  2. Youth Hostel
  3. Hotel
  4. Retreat centre
  5. Friend's house
In the past I've hired a cottage in Northumberland, gone to a B&B in Ravenscar and stayed at a Youth Hostel in Northumberland. We're also happy to have people to stay in the Cwtch. Get in touch if you fancy a retreat in this area.

What to do when you get there

It's good to include a variety of activities including:

  1. Worship. You might want to sing (depending on where you are!), or speak out praise to God, or respond to God creatively (see suggestions below)
  2. Bible reading / study. I often take some Bible study notes with me to provide some structure to my session.
  3. Prayer. I like to walk as I pray and sometimes take inspiration from the things around me (for example if I see a waterfall, I might pray that the streams of Living Water will satisfy my spiritual thirst.)
  4. Creative activities - crafts, sketching, music, photography etc.
  5. Fun stuff - go for a paddle, climb a tree or do something else that brings you joy.
You can go on your own or with others (but have time on your own). I recently went for a retreat day with Abby and we had a great time worshipping, studying the Bible and praying together, but also had time on our own to pray and reflect.

Here's an example of what a retreat day at the coast might look like for me:

9 - 10am - Singing along to worship CD in the car
10 - 11am - Bible study in a café
11am - 1pm - Prayer walk along the coast
1 - 2pm - Lunch
2 - 3pm - Focussed prayer for specific people / issues
3 - 4pm - Creative time (photography, building a stone sculpture etc.)
4 - 5pm - Bible reading
5 - 5.15pm - Paddle!
5.15 - 6.15pm - Drive home singing along to worship CD in the car and praying

Most of all - have fun! Spending a day with God isn't homework or a horrible chore - it's a 'date day' with the person who loves you more than anyone else does!

In : Resources 

Tags: retreat prayer "bible study" 


"loving god' commandment relationship 40th activity acts addiction adoption adultery advent aesop agapé android animation anxiety apologetics app apps argument aroma atheism audio ben folds bible bible characters bible narrative bible study bible trading cards big picture birthday blog body of christ book book review books busyness cat celebration celibacy celtic change charity chart child children christ christendom christmas chronicles church church history climate change coastguard colouring comedy commentary communications communion community compassion conference consumerism contemplation context conversation coronavirus covenant covid-19 creation creation care creativity cross crucifixtion cryptic culture cwtch daily prayer data day of the lord debate devotional diagram dictionary digital disagreement disciples discipleship discussion documentary easter ecclesiastes education effort elder brother emotion encouragement enemies environment environmentalism ethics evangelism event evidence ezekiel fable facebook fact check fair trade faith faitheism fake news father fear feast feeling fellowship feminism fiction film fireseeds flesh flourishing food foodbank forgiveness free freedom freshers fun fundraiser funny galatians game gay gay wedding genealogies generosity gifts giving god god's presence good good news gospel gospreflection grace gratitude great commission green growth guitar hagar health heart heaven hebrews history hoarding holy biscuit holy spirit home homosexuality hope hopelessness hospitality house hub humanism humour hymn identity in individualism infographic infographics inheritance insurance internet interview interviews ios jesus joel joke jonah joseph joy justice kindness kingdom kingdom of god law leaflet lectio divina legacy lennox lesbian levite lgbtq liberty library literal literature liturgy living out lockdown lord’s love lust magazine map mark mark's materialism matthew maturity meal meditation meditations memory mental health ministry mission missionaries moody moral morality move murray music nation new creation new year newcomers news non-fiction north east old testament online outreach palm sunday parable passover peace pentecost persecution perspective philosophy photo photography piano picture this thought podcast poem poetry political correctness pool night possessions post-christendom poverty power praise prayer prayer requests preaching presentation presents priest princess anne priorities prodigal son productivity project prophecy protection provision psalm publicity puzzle questions quiz quotes reading rebellion reconciliation redemption reference reflection relationship relationships relativism religion remembrance repentance rescue resource resources rest restoration resurrection retreat review reviews riches right and wrong royalty rules rush sabbath sacrifice same-sex attraction sarah scholarship science screens scripture scripture engagement secularism seed self esteem sermon sermon on the mount sex sexuality shalom sharing faith shopping showcase significance silence simplicity sin slavery smell social social action social media society software solitude song songs sonship soularium sources speaking spiritual gifts spirituality sproul spurgeon stations of the cross stats stewardship stone story stott student student life students study suffering supper support support discovery talk tech technology temple tft thank you thanksgiving theology time toby tools top trumps trading cards training transformation translation treasure treasure hunt trivia true freedom trust truth unity update utilities value video vine visual walk war wealth website websites wesley witnessing women words world worldview worry worship worth writing wrong wycliffe youtube ywam

Living Out is registered UK Charity no. 1165572
The Baptist Union is Charity no. 249635