URC :: Spirituality

broadening and deepening prayer
United Reformed Church Spirituality articles:


There are many different styles of retreat. They vary in length from a weekend to a month. Some are built round a particular theme, perhaps art, music, film or literature. Some are group experiences with significant amounts of talking, others involve deep silence. Some involve involve working with a spiritual director, either one-to-one or in a group, and others involve lots of talks.

Choosing a retreat

Sometimes people ask friends, and sometimes spiritual directors make recommendations. A good starting point is to assume that God is in the desire to make a retreat, and in what retreats you become aware of. That also means it is not about choosing the “best” or “most suitable” retreats, but about asking what of God you are being invited to discover in the retreat you do go on — which might be a surprise to you and to the centre offering the retreat.

Going with what’s practical

God doesn’t call us to do what we can’t do. Practical things like cost and the ability to be away for a while are part of the process. It’s worth being flexible, and letting the retreat that is possible be the one that is right. In particular, if it is not possible to go away for a while, the urge to make a retreat might actually be a calling to take part in a “retreat in everyday life” or a “week of guided prayer”, which both involve seeing a spiritual director quite often, but are built round praying at home. Or it may be that the urge to “make a retreat” is actually about choosing to make space for God at home. This is particularly relevant if a retreat has to be cancelled: there’s a world of difference between “I cancelled my retreat because I was ill” and “illness was an invitation to meet God in a new way, at home”.