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Home and Away

16 May 2013

I have been visiting the various house-groups over the last nine months and was at the Hardyman’s this week. We briefly raised the interesting question of how we best hear God. Is it by “retreating” from our normal lives to go on a retreat; or in the everyday of our normal lives?

Last week I went on my annual retreat to the Lake District. The format has been the same for the last 12 years; 2 nights on my own with a focus on worship and prayer. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the year gone and year to come, lift them up to God and most importantly; listen to what God has to say. This year it was both encouraging and challenging. Encouraging in that I feel God say to me that he is doing “ a new thing” in my life, but challenging in that I also feel him say that I “have much to learn!”

I have always found retreats helpful in getting space, temporarily removing oneself from phone calls/e-mails/post that needs answering and things that “come up” in everyday life that you weren’t anticipating. Personally, I find those big blocks of time helpful to really go for it in worship, soak myself in scripture, prayer and God’s presence. There’s something about unhurried time and space that helps us connect with God, get on his wavelength, know his presence and hear his voice. We can of course make those times at home.

Yet many of us struggle to find space to get quality time with God at home, never mind the opportunity of going away. Pressures of family (children and grandchildren), work, various other commitments can easily squeeze out “quiet times.” The question raised at housegroup was should we really have to “go away” to be able to hear God? The answer is obviously no, and God can speak to us anywhere; prayer is conversational relationship with God and not a religious ritual that has to be in a set holy place or time. I tend to chat on with God during the day wherever I am, on the bus, in the supermarket, on the M62 on the way to college.

I guess the encouraging things is that we can pray anywhere, at “home and away.”God just likes us to talk with him. The encouraging thing is that the more we pray, the more we focus on him, the more time we spend with him, the easier it gets to hear his voice:

“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Pete Jorysz

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