Would you like to learn how to take a retreat at home?

A desperate heart calls for desperate measures.

After a series of emotional meltdowns and fit-pitching tantrums, it was obvious to me I needed a heart check up with the best heart doctor I know…God.

But how, in my busy life, could I find a way to really get alone with God and into His Word without interruption?

Going away for even 24 hours was not an option, knowing that the departure would put unnecessary pressure on my husband during his busy season. Making the financial commitment to stay in a hotel or attend a conference wasn’t a viable solution for some spiritual rejuvenation, as our timing and budget wouldn’t allow for it. So I needed to get created and disciplined. I needed to find a way to retreat…at home.

Retreat at Home: Simple Steps to Help You Know How

So, what are the at-home-retreat possibilities {especially for a mom} that will lead to authentic spiritual refreshment?

I wouldn’t have believed it could be possible to have a retreat at home until I experienced it for myself. Truly, I had the kind of retreat experience that made me feel refreshed spiritually, emotionally, and physically. My at-home-retreat wasn’t followed by a crash and burn re-entry either, since it was so evenly paced and spread out during windows of time that worked within my carved out schedule.  So how did I make a retreat at home happen? Well, I planned a few days in advance and decided on what I would study, and then I kept some boundaries in place in order to guard my retreat time. Here are some suggestions for you to do the same:

Step 1:  Schedule the Time, But Be Realistic

While at typical retreat may be a full day or overnight commitment, feel free to break your retreat time into 2 to 4 hour chunks over 2 days.  It doesn’t have to happen all at one!  For example, you can either slot a morning, afternoon, or part of an evening.  Work your retreat blocks according to the natural time you can find to be alone, such as while the children are at school or napping. If you’re a homeschooling mom or have little ones around all the time, designate an evening after bedtime, an early morning before they rise, or see if you can get a friend to take them for a play date. If you’re a working woman, how about taking a whole week of lunch hours to retreat with God…even in your car or a corner of the office somewhere?  Once you pick your time-frame and date(s), put it in the calendar and start preparing by getting the {distracting} chores and {immediate} deadlines taken care of so that you can truly relax during your retreat time.

 Step 2:  Set the Stage

Women’s retreats are often inviting because of their theme and setting. So for your retreat, be sure to pray about your purpose as well as your setting. Will you retreat at home? In your den or bedroom? At a park? Or might you go to your in-laws empty home while they are at work (with permission of course) or trade spaces with a friend for a bit?  Once you know where you’ll retreat, consider setting the stage with a few simple treats.  For example, you may want to pick up a new candle and a sweet snack or favorite drink to have on hand. You could even purchase a special mug, a journal, and a pen (a dollar store can be a great place to get all this for under $10) especially for your retreat time. Put it all together in a basket and have it ready to go. You may also want to make a playlist of your favorite worship music or tune in to a Pandora station playing hymns or worship music during your retreat.

Step 3:  Plan Your Purpose, Then Do It

What’s happening in your heart these days? Are you struggling with insecurity or pride? Would you like to understand more about the character of God? Is it time to forgive that hurt and embrace God’s grace?  Figure out the topic on which you need to meet with God on and then do some research to find a sermon series or study that can guide your retreat time, such as:

For my retreat, I used Brad Bigney’s, Gospel Treason. I started listening to the messages during my walks with the dog in the days leading up to the retreat and then during my retreat time, I re-listened to a number of them and downloaded his worksheets. Lots of time was spent journal, praying, and reflecting.

When the time comes for your retreat, decide on whether you’ll watch  or listen to the messages online or on your iPod or smart phone. If you’re the creative type, you might even enjoy crafting while listening to the messages, such as painting, knitting, beading. If you’re not the crafty type but fear falling asleep, grab your journal and take notes. It’s your retreat time to enjoy it your way, with the focus on getting the truth into your soul!

When you’re done listening/watching, spend time journaling and praying (or doing both at the same time) and put time into studying by looking up the key Scriptures (I love Biblegateway.com for seeing verses in different translations). If you feel the Spirit’s leading, read through an entire book of the Bible or multiple chapters and record what you’re learning. The goal is to walk away with a keeper truth for each time you spend retreating. It doesn’t have to be a deep theological principle, but something that you can continue to pray on and think about in the hours and days ahead.

Step 4:  Transition Into and Out of Your Retreat

To get ready for your retreat, put your phone on silent. Put an “out of the office” reply on your email. Turn off your computer or at least close your email and browser.  If the kids are home, explain to them your start and end time, and have a basket or list of activities to keep them busy. It may be a great time for a special surprise movie.

Your retreat can’t last forever, right?  So end your block of time with a keeper thought and action step. What is one Scripture you want to meditate on for the next 24 hours? Write it down on an index card and post it where you can see it regular. If you have plans to do another retreat block, make a commitment to do something to keep you in retreat mode, such as continuing to listen to your worship playlist or another message while folding laundry.  Maybe you can limit checking email and stay off social media until your next session.

As you finish up your final retreat session, think about how you can leave a stone of remembrance on this time that will help you to walk away with the truths you’ve learned. Consider making something or writing down a truth to post at your desk or on your mirror.

Of course, it is wonderful to get a way for a retreat, either alone or with friends, but the reality is that for most of us {especially moms}, the schedule and resources prevent us from doing so as often as we’d like. Rather than thinking of a retreat as an all or nothing experience, make time for an at-home-retreat, which can really be spiritually and physically transforming.

Any time with the Lord and in His Word will reap great dividends. {click to tweet}

Enough time has passed beyond my retreat-at-home experience in order for me to see see evidence of change — God transformed my thinking in my time alone with Him and by His grace those truths have stuck in my heart and have transformed how I’m living now. Enough so that my husband and friends have noticed the difference in the attitude of my heart.

I pray that you’ll be inspired to do your own at-home-retreat and experience a spiritual overflow in your life now…and not put on hold until your time and bank account can afford to do so. 



  1. Brilliant advice here, Elisa. You have inspired me to put a retreat at home into my diary!
    Thanks so much for sharing at Essential Fridays.

  2. What a great idea! I love this and will totally be taking some of your advice. Thanks!

  3. I just wanted to say thank you for this post! I have often felt dismayed at my inability to go on retreat each year. But this! Now, I have a way to retreat in my own home. The wheels are already turning as to how/where/what I want to set up so I can begin! It is so simple, but I never would have thought of it. So, thanks again! I will let you know how it goes.

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