Men Retreat, and then Grow in Prayer (3/13-15 2015)

Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 in EventReport, Friends & Fellowship, men, UMM | 0 comments

Our United Methodist Men’s Fellowship held our annual retreat during the weekend of March 13-15.  For the past 14 years we have consistently held an annual retreat, and like the previous 13 retreats, we held this year’s retreat at the Black Rock Retreat Center in Quarryille PA (Lancaster County).  About 20 of us traveled to Black Rock and spent the weekend in a time of serious reflection, prayer, worship, and- well- fun.

Our speaker was Chris Johnson.  Chris spoke to us during our fellowship gathering in January (2015).  Here is a brief bio…

Chris Johnson is a missionary to Mexico through the “To Every Tribe” organization. He is married to Michele and they have two boys; Malachi who is 3 and Josiah who is 1 ½.

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

They have worked in small villages spreading the Gospel and as the Lord will’s, planting churches were there are none. They have worked in the Northern part of Mexico as well as the Southern part, in the State of Oaxaca. They have been back from the mission field for a little over a year now. They are in the process now of planning to returning back to Mexico and hope to be there by the end of 2015.


UMM Retreat 15- Group _IMG_2523 x600w

Retreat Topic:  A Praying Life

Chris used the book “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller to help us take a deeper look at our prayer lives.  The weekend topic was entitled:

A Praying Life – Stop talking to yourself and start talking to GOD!

 Here are a few of the topics that Chris led us to consider…

Prayer is a Relationship Issue…

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We often get caught up in the mechanics of prayer; who do you pray to, when do you pray, what formula do you follow, etc.  But the real key to prayer is that it is based on our relationship with God.  It all boils down to a faith and trust issue:  Do you believe that God hears you?  Are you willing to be totally honest with Him?  Are you willing for Him to change you?

A life of prayer flows out of a love relationship with our creator.  Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for good, but look at verse 29:

“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” NLT

In other words, our goal should be God’s goal:  That we become molded into the image of Jesus Christ.  When we have that attitude; when we desperately want to please God and to be like His Son, our prayer lives will become vibrant and flow out of our heart felt relationship.

Prayer is both spontaneous and planned…

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To live a life of prayer, we need to always be on the lookout for God’s activity; a full moon, a sunset, a “coincidence” where someone just happens to show up and say the right thing at the right time.  Paul said that we must “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess 5:17).

And yet, we also need to carve out a time where we can get away from the day to day routine and just be alone with our creator.  That takes some planning and setting of priorities.  A life of spontaneous prayer requires the cultivation of a mindset.  A regular time of quiet purposeful prayer requires priority and the cultivation of a habit.

Is this your excuse: “I just don’t have time to pray regularly“?  

Then think about this:  If you had more time, what would you really do with it?  Would you use it to pray or would some other activity fill it in.  For most people, the problem isn’t a busy life.  The problem is a busy heart.

We must come to God dirty…

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Prayer must be genuine, and to be genuine we must come to God as we are.  To recognize our sinfulness and helplessness requires a lot of humility.  But this also means that we don’t have to clean ourselves up before coming to God.  We don’t need to put on “Sunday go meeting” clothes to be in God’s presence.  In fact, we’re totally incapable of cleaning ourselves up.  That’s a humbling experience. The goal of prayer is to open ourselves up and to allow God to change us, not to somehow earn His favor.

God wants to hear the mundane…

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Is it wrong to pray for a good parking spot?  Is it wrong to pray for good weather?  Are we bothering God if we pray for help in finding our lost keys?  What if you approach your street and you hear fire trucks and see smoke.  Is it wrong to pray that your house isn’t on fire?

No!  In all of these things, God wants us to be honest.  To come to Him like a child.  To crawl into our Daddy’s lap and tell Him what’s bothering us.

He may not answer things the way we may want.  God is not a genie who grants any request we make.  God wants to work things out for our good, but His idea of “good” is that we become like Jesus (Romans 8:29).  He loves us and wants our fellowship, and Jesus is the door to that relationship.

When we’re honest with God and we open ourselves up to Him, we open ourselves up to change.  If we pray for a good parking spot at the mall, God might give us the sensitivity to notice a mother struggling to get her packages and small kids into the car that is parked in that spot that you wanted.   After praying to find your lost house keys, you might remember to pray for those who have no home.  Your initial thoughts may be that it’s not your house that’s on fire, but after coming to God He’ll give you the passion to pray for the person who’s house IS on fire.

Waiting for an Answer can help us to Grow…

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God doesn’t usually answer prayers as quickly as we might want. Prayers may not be answered the way we want them to be answered, but God will answer all prayers in His own timing.

While waiting for an answer, we are led to one of the following places:

  1. THE DESERT:  When hope has climbed above reality, the passage of time leads us into the “Desert Place.”  We struggle with God’s will.  But we soon discover  that the best gift while we’re in the desert is God’s Presence.  The desert can be a place of growth where we learn to wait for God and to lean on His love.
  2. DETERMINATION:  When we try to turn the Reality we have into the Hope we want by relying on our own resources, we loose our faith.  Sometimes God’s answer to our prayers is “no.”  Our reaction has to be one of obedience and acceptance, not of forcing our own way.
  3. DESPAIR:  When Reality isn’t what we want and no Hope remains, we enter into despair.  God doesn’t want us to be there.  When we’re in despair we turn inward and shut out God.


Retreat Purpose:  Hanging out with the Guys!

In addition to the serious discussions about our prayer lives, we also took time just to get away from things and hand out with friends.  Yes, even adult men need to have some time away from serious things.  We ate pizza, watched movies, and even had a great discussion around the fireplace on the validity of Pluto as a planet!

Take a look at the following pictures to get a taste of the weekend at Black Rock…




To learn more about our Men’s Fellowship, Click Here.



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