When Mom Needs a Spiritual Retreat

Spiritual retreat is time set apart to be in quiet, rest, and solitude with God. For generations, people have gone on spiritual retreats to encounter God and experience spiritual renewal. 

Retreats remove us from noise and distraction, and into a place of spiritual refreshing and renewing. It is a way of entering into the presence of God, and allowing him to nourish our soul. As we settle into the stillness, we notice the stirrings of our soul, our deeper longings, and God’s quiet whisper to us.

Wise words from a spiritual mentor

One of the people who first got me to consider taking a personal spiritual retreat was the late author known for writing about Christian spiritual formation, Dallas Willard. Dr. Willard was a professor at USC while I was there as a student, and later as a campus minister. During one of his open office hours, Steve and I meandered into his messy little office, hoping to gain a bit of wisdom from Dr. Willard. As he was known to do, he welcomed us in, and generously answered our questions. One question we asked him was, “What spiritual disciplines do you think are most vital for leaders to practice?” Without a pause, he answered “Solitude.” He went on to say, “In order for ministers and leaders to thrive, they must maintain a deep, abiding relationship with God outside of public ministry demands.” He suggested we learn how to be with God by ourselves through practicing regular extended times of retreat. 

I am not one to take Dallas Willard’s perspective lightly, but the idea of having extended time of solitude and silence initially seemed like a terrible idea to me. I am extroverted and driven by nature, and at a deeper level, I was scared of simply being with God. Wasn’t I going to just be bored out of my mind? What if God doesn’t do anything, and it’s a complete waste?

My experience with spiritual retreats

For my first spiritual retreat, I blocked out 24 hours (which sounded way too long to me). I found a local retreat center, brought my Bible and a book, and asked God to meet with me. Guess what happened? God MET WITH ME. God gave my soul deep rest that I didn’t even know I needed. God spoke some words to my soul that refreshed me and ministered to me. 

Since that first retreat, I have taken personal spiritual retreats for prayer and solitude about 1-2 times a year. Each time I have a retreat, I receive an incredible outpouring of God’s presence, direction, and voice. I often come back from my retreats with renewed vision, a deeper connectedness to God, and a clearer sense of my identity. In short, I highly recommend spiritual retreats to anyone who wants more of God in their lives.

You may want to take a spiritual retreat, but don’t know how to do it. If the practice of spiritual retreat is new or foreign to you, I’ve created a simple guide for you. Whether your retreat is a half-day or multiple days, this guide will give you some helpful steps to take.

Download and print a free PDF Guide to Spiritual Retreat.



Consider the length of time you want to take, and figure out when it can fit into your schedule. It can be a day or multiple days. Make any necessary arrangements to protect this time from distractions and work. Find a quiet setting where you can spend time alone with God. Go to a retreat center or monastery that welcomes visitors. Or spend a day outdoors in nature. 


Consider what the purpose is for your retreat. What are you hoping to receive from the time? Perhaps you want to experience rest, or gain more clarity about something in your life. Maybe you are discerning your vocational calling or a major life decision, and want to dialogue about that with God.

Larissa Marks
Larissa Marks
Larissa Marks is a spiritual director, ministry planter, writer, and Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Bluewater Mission Church. In everything she does, her hope is to know God and help others know him. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband Steve and their three kids. You can find Larissa at larissamarks.com and sign up for her Weekly Notes newsletter here.

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