38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” “They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day….” (John 1:38-39)
DISCIPLINE LEADS TO DESIRE AND DESIRE LEADS TO DELIGHT – “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42: 1-2) “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) As we discipline ourselves to spend unhurried time alone with God (put it on your calendar) it leads to an increasing desire and then to a delight.
THE LORD LONGS TO SPEND TIME ALONE WITH US – “There I will meet with you and, from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the Testimony, I will speak intimately with you of all which I will give you in commandment to the Israelites.” (Exodus 25:22) “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20)
SPIRITUAL RENEWAL VS. SPIRITUAL ENTROPY – “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in ( or wait upon) the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31) “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
JESUS MODELED THIS – “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:7-8) Jesus is the model for everything. “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness (or lonely place) and pray.” (Luke 5:16)
TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE – “The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” “ (1 Kings 19:11-13) “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:2-3, 10) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
CAST CARES/CONFESS SINS – NEEDED FOR A HEALTHY EMOTIONAL LIFE – We can stuff or bury our emotions but we bury them alive and they come out in unhealthy, sinful ways. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5: 7-8) “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” (Psalm 66:18-19) “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:3-5) Confession of sin restores fellowship/intimacy with the Lord.
THE SABBATH PRINCIPLE/REGULAR EXTENDED TIMES ALONE WITH GOD – The Sabbath is not a NT commandment but it is a NT privilege. “And Jesus said to them, The Sabbath was made on account and for the sake of man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) My suggestion is make time each week (a Sabbath) for an extended time alone with God (three to four hours of unhurried time alone with God).
FAST AND PRAY – We fast during the eight hours at Ignatius House. Fasting can accompany confession and repentance for restoration with the Lord. “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12) Fasting can also enable us to hear from the Lord and discern his will as seen in Acts 13. ”While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)
INTERCESSION – “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23) “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6) During the day alone with God at Ignatius House each man has five hours alone in a private room and this is a great time to get caught up on interceding for family and friends. I am convinced that intercession, praying for others, can be our most important and effective ministry.
RENEWAL OF THE MIND THROUGH EXTENDED TIME IN THE WORD – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) At each retreat I provide a prayer guide on a certain topic (intimacy with Jesus, spiritual warfare, heaven, etc) which directs you to the Word for reading reflecting and responding (journaling).
BUILDING UP THE BODY OF CHRIST THROUGH SHARING OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH THE LORD – “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16 ) After each man spends five hours alone with the Lord we gather and share our experience in small groups and then share with the entire group as men feel led to so.