One of the spiritual disciplines we need most in this fast-paced world is the practice of silence and solitude. This practice centres us back to God and reorients us to see things from the Lord’s heart and will. We suggest finding a place where you can focus for half a day or a full day. The suggested guide below is based on Isaiah 55.
Listening Prayers: A Spring of Life for the Thirsty
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink… Come to Me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life” (Isa 55:1-3a). God knows your weariness and burdens. Isaiah 55 supplies a guiding rhythm in four movements of prayer for you to grow in intimacy with God and find life.
Although some may be seeking guidance for a decision, you need not have a specific agenda. Centering down, come away from your normal routines to listen to God. God knows your need and bids you to pray. Set aside your bible-study preparation or reading books for information for another time.
Start each movement with a prayer for God’s grace, biblical verses (from Isaiah 55, Psalms etc.), a spiritual exercise (e.g. thanksgiving), followed by an extended silence. Make space to hear God speak. Journal your thoughts. Silence forms a significant part of a prayer retreat.
First Movement: From emptiness to being filled with God’s love (Isa 55:3b-5).
God loves you immeasurably. You are hidden in Christ. You share in Christ’s Kingdom. You are co-heir as His beloved, which means “bestowed with His inheritance”. Emptiness comes when you cannot see His inheritance for you. Enter now into His Presence (His courts, His gates) through thanksgiving and praise. Recount His blessings. Spend time acknowledging God’s love revealed in the Scriptures, allowing that reality to strengthen you. Move from emptiness to beloved-ness.
Second Movement: From guilt to forgiveness and freedom (Isa 55:6-7).
Encountering God requires awareness of your unworthiness and God’s generous forgiveness. Acknowledge your failures in thought, word and deed, by what you have done, or failed to do. Confess sincerely, and confidently receive His mercy. The Spirit convicts but does not condemn. He liberates you from your burdens and draws you into life-giving freedom. Do not hold on to self-imposed false guilt, for God has already forgiven you.
Third Movement: From lies to redemptive truth (Isa 55:8-11).
True freedom is found in truth. The Spirit renews and transforms you as you engage and wrestle with His truth. The deceptions from the world, the devil and the flesh cannot be managed, but must be removed and replaced with God’s truth. Meditating on Scripture, you grow to know Jesus as the Author of truth. Dwell on the truths that God impresses on you in your reading and meditation of your chosen text.
Fourth Movement: From aimlessness to joyful purpose (Isa 55:12-13).
This movement re-engages you in God’s world, recognising that God has ordained you for a specific purpose to play in His Kingdom. Discern to answer a specific call from God. Sense His guidance to go forward. Let the Spirit speak to you deeply, along with the peace of His presence. Guard your heart against self-glorifying plans and fears. Be prepared that where Jesus calls you, there is a shadow of the cross (Luke 9:23).
Finally, review what you have heard from God during the retreat. End in worship. Share your thoughts with a spiritual director, your spouse or a close friend.
Go with joy and be led by His perfect peace! To God be all the Glory!