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Personal Christian Retreat: An Outline for Spiritual Renewal

3. Season of Prayer

Here’s a suggestion for a lengthy season of prayer. Take time to go through each one:

  1. Praise – This is our response to the person of God. We praise him for who he is. Take time to rehearse the greatness of God, His character, His attributes.
  2. Thanksgiving – This is our response to the goodness of God. Thank him for what he has done. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4). “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). An attitude of gratitude should permeate our lives.
  3. Confession – Confession is our response to the holiness of God. Our sins will hinder our praying (see Psalm 66:18). As we pray, we can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal each sin in our lives. Then we can confess the sin (see 1 John 1:9). When broken relationships are involved, we should seek to make them right as well. Ask: What is the ONE THING that keeps me from following Christ with everything in my being?
  4. Intercession – This is our response to the love of God. When we ask of God, Foster reminds us, we are not “trying to manipulate God and tell Him what to do. Quite the opposite. We are asking God to tell us what to do. God is the ground of our beseeching… Our prayer is to be like a reflex action to God’s prior initiative on the heart.”

Take time to pray for family, friends, coworkers, your church’s leaders, political leaders, the lost for whom you are burdened. Pray for the spiritual, emotional, physical and relational aspects of their lives.

4. Petition

Petition is our response to the love of God for us. It is appropriate and necessary for us to ask God to meet our needs. However, in our consumer-driven culture, we can learn from this prayer of petition from an anonymous soldier:

I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked God for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for—
but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.

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Alvin L. Reid (born 1959) serves as Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two children: Joshua, a senior at The College at Southeastern, and Hannah, a senior at Wake Forest Rolesville High School. Recently he became more focused at ministry in his local church by being named Young Professionals Director at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin holds the M.Div and the Ph.D with a major in evangelism from Southwestern Seminary, and the B.A. from Samford University. He has spoken at a variety of conferences in almost every state and continent, and in over 2000 churches, colleges, conferences and events across the United States.