A Methodist Way of Life is a way of living. It is how we try to live our lives in response to God’s love, made known to us in Jesus.
For more information, please visit the Methodist Way of Life
One of the most important – and life-giving – parts of our daily journey of faith is taking time to sit quietly with God; praying, reflecting, listening and putting to one side the busyness of the day; letting go of some of the daily pressures and responsibilities which so often crowd our lives.
Many people find an oasis by leaving behind the hustle and bustle and joining an organised retreat. Others find their sacred space by spending time alone, maybe just for a day, or for longer, within a community or religious order. But sometimes all this is far easier said than done, and for many this is not an option. Some people find that the constraints of money or family commitments prevent them from taking such time away; others simply do not find this easy, or they may find such places unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
But there are a number of other ways in which we can find our
sacred spaces closer to home, whatever our circumstances or preferences. This could be something as basic as creating a place within our own home, a quiet corner with just enough space for a bible, notebook and candle, a place in which to spend even some brief moments in stillness with God each day, as our routine allows.
Perhaps you might find that one or more of the following could be helpful in your search.
From the Ignatian tradition, the Examen is a technique of reflecting on the events of the day which has past; where we look back at what has happened during that time, thinking about our feelings and actions and where we have seen God’s guiding hand, as we seek his blessing.
Adapted from the five-step
Daily Examen which was practised by St Ignatius, the present day forms of the Examen may vary slightly, but there are five core parts to the technique; firstly, thanksgiving, recognising the things for which we are grateful; secondly, petition, as we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us through our soul-searching; thirdly, an acknowledgement of the things which have not gone well or where we have made mistakes; fourthly, a time to ask for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation; fifthly, looking towards whatever challenges and opportunities may lie ahead and asking for God’s help and strength.
The following are some websites which will direct you to further guidance on the practice.
These are small groups who meet to pray together, either in a church or chapel or sometimes in each others’ homes, using music, a short reading or passage of scripture and a period of silence in which to reflect through contemplative prayer. The focus is on being with God, in the quiet presence of others, and to listen to how he may be speaking to us. The gathering may finish with a time of conversation and a cup of coffee. Julian Meetings welcome those from any denomination or none.
The Quiet Garden Movement offers opportunities for
stillness and spiritual refreshment, either in a private space, where people have opened up the garden of their home and invite others to sit quietly, or in more public spaces such as retreat houses, hospitals, schools or community centres, where spaces have been created for
refuge and quietude. The Movement encourages diversity, and participating gardens attract visitors from a range of backgrounds, churches and cultures. These gardens are open to those who wish to spend time alone, or who may come as part of an organised retreat or Quiet Day.
The arrival of Covid 19 in the Spring of 2020 changed many aspects of our lives, not least the ways in which we have been able to meet with others on retreat, or the venues at which we might have been able to stay. As a result, many places have switched their retreat options to ‘online’, including retreat houses and religious communities. These have proved to be a surprising blessing in a time of uncertainty and anxiety, when many have experienced their own sense of wilderness, and these forms of retreat have become another source of spiritual nourishment. There are now a wide range of opportunities available and some of these can be found on the website of the Retreat Association, where you can be guided to gatherings which have been planned. Here at Reflect, we have also begun to arrange online ‘Quiet Days’ and details of these will be advertised on our website as they are planned.
A Retreat in Daily Life is for anyone who is seeking to spend time/more time with God. People choose to join because they want to learn to pray or maybe they are seeking discernment about God’s calling, or want to refresh their time with God.
A Retreat in Daily Life runs for 4, 6 or perhaps 10 weeks, 6 weeks is the usual. The commitment is at least 30 mins a day in prayer and 30 mins a week with the prayer guides. Prayer Guides are Spiritual Directors and commit to 1 - 3 pilgrims a week. The meeting with the Prayer Guide is normally in their home, but can be in a church, retreat centre or anywhere convenient and preferably quiet. It’s the pilgrim who travels.
The Retreat starts with worship on a Sunday and closes with worship on a Sunday – usually. There is normally some input about the retreat, feedback, housekeeping, possibly refreshments. There is often some teaching/practical work offered e.g., Lectio Divina, Examen etc.
The Prayer Guides meet for supervision mid retreat, support one another and pray for the pilgrims. It is essential that pilgrims are not allocated to a guide they know. Themes vary from quite structured to simple. The pilgrim does not have to follow the theme, it’s up to them. A list of Bible readings, poetry, pictures, and anything else that may be helpful is provided. The benefits include time with God, guided prayer help, blessings innumerable, interdenominational.
There are some useful books that provide a readymade structure:
Joining Jesus on His Journey - a 10 week Retreat in Daily Life, by Adrian Smith
The Open Door and The Cup
We hope that these suggestions will have opened up some possibilities for finding your own
sanctuary in the everyday and we wish you every blessing in your search.