By Peter Meier | April 15, 2018
When was the last time you set aside some dedicated time to go away and be alone with God? No distractions. No work. No To Do List. Just solitude with your Abba (Romans 8:15).
I see Jesus doing this often during His ministry, Luke 5:16. He continually withdraws from people (even His disciples), from ministry demands, even daily life activities, to be alone with His Father, His Abba. Jesus began His ministry in prayer. He made important decisions in prayer. He dealt with emotions and grief in prayer. He dealt with constant ministry demands by caring for His own soul. He taught His disciples to pray. He prepared for His own death in prayer. He continues to pray for us today!
I often say that “the work of church planting begins on our knees.” The daily posture of a church planter or any ministry leader must be on his or her knees. One of the core principles of our trainings is The Prayer-Focus Principle which states, Prayer turns our focus to God as the power and wisdom in each step of church multiplication. Prayer is a necessary part of staying balanced for planters, and ministry leaders. It is an essential habit for every disciple.
So what does your prayer life look like? How intentional are you when it comes to spending time with your Abba? How are you discipling others to pray?
Whether preparing to start a new faith community, making a major (or not-so-major) life decision, or simply doing some next-steps planning for yourself or your ministry, consider following Jesus’ example. Take a day or a partial day to withdraw to a quiet place where you will spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer.
Follow these steps as you prepare for and then take time to withdraw:
Step 1: Go to your retreat site and rest. Mark 6:30-32
Often rest is one of the healthy components we neglect in our hectic, transactional lives.
Step 2: Pray for your retreat. James 1:5
Before you actually retreat, ask God to direct your time. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open your heart, your ears, your eyes, your mind to what He wants to reveal.
Step 3: Plan your retreat. Proverbs 14:22
Lay out step by step what you need to be in prayerful planning about during your retreat. What are the issues that you need to resolve? What are the items that need Gods His wisdom, direction and help?
Step 4: Repent of your sins. Rev. 3:19-20
This is a time for spiritual renewal and cleansing. Rev 3:20 is not so much a salvation verse as a fellowship verse. Prepare your heart for a time of intimate fellowship with the Lord. Come before God with awe, with awareness of your sin and a humble, repentant heart.
Step 5: Thankfully review how God has been working. Philippians 4:6-7
Take an inventory (journal) how God has been blessing your life and ministry. What has He been up to? Be aware. Give thanks. Look for patterns. What are the “life-giving” areas of ministry where you see God at work?
Step 6: Submit to God’s plan for you. Prov. 19:21
Ask God to help you see and submit to His plan, rather than thinking how you want things to turn out.
Step 7: Devour the Word of God and take notes. Ps. 119:105
Read and read, and read some more. Ask God to guide, jot notes, listen to God speak.
Step 8: Write down your specific issues and questions. 1 Chronicles 14:10-12
What are the specific issues and questions you have of God? Where do you want him to “break out?” What are the personal… family… ministry… questions you are working through?
Step 9: Meet with God in a quiet place. Listen and take notes. 1 Kings 19:9-13
Where is your quiet place, where you can be away from distractions? Turn off your phone.
Step 10: Prayerfully respond in writing to questions and issues.
Take notes. Journal. Draw. Record what God is revealing.
Step 11: Receive counsel from wise godly people. Prov. 15:22
Share your thoughts from your retreat with trusted advisors, godly people who will react and share their wisdom with you.
Step 12: Plan to communicate your thoughts and delegate tasks. Exodus 18
This is a follow-up and planning step. Who needs to know? With whom must I share this? Family members? Church leaders? Ministry team? Who will help me? How will I organize? What needs to be delegated?
Whether you’re a church planter, pastor, or a simple follower of Jesus, these steps will provide you with a valuable, unhurried, sweet time with the Lord. Unhurried time with your Abba. It’s a vital spiritual practice for every disciple!
This Prayerful Planning Retreat is a component of our Church Planting Essentials, a training for men and women who are multiplying faith communities. It is also part of our Mission Staff Team Discovery, an assessment tool for gathering those who will form the team for starting a new faith community. Contact me for information, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
Center for U.S. Missions – Contact Information
Email us at: | Rev. Dr. Peter Meier, Executive Director; email@example.com | Rev. Eric Wenger, Director of Mission Coaching; firstname.lastname@example.org| Kathy Meier, Coordinator; email@example.com | Mil Behnken, Office Manager; firstname.lastname@example.org