Scripture: Luke 6:12-13 CEB
“During that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night long.” Some people grew up going to church camp or retreats. These folks have probably experienced an encounter with God that was formational for them. It seems like the times we spend at camp or on a retreat can become some of the most powerful moments in our faith journey. The first retreat I ever attended was when I made my Walk to Emmaus back in 1989. The Walk to Emmaus is a 72-hour retreat experience where the participants hear talks and are led through many different experiences all designed to demonstrate God’s love for them. The Walk to Emmaus experience was definitely a spiritual high for me and a true spiritual marker in my faith journey. This is the type of experience retreats are designed to create. There is something about taking time to experience a more focused time with God. When we take time to retreat and spend time in prayer we can experience what some have called a mountain top experience. When I hear that term I think of the time Moses spent on top of Mount Horeb receiving the Ten Commandments. We read in Deuteronomy that when Moses came down from the mountain his face was glowing. It was glowing so much that Moses had to cover his face with a veil. When we encounter God in a new or different way on a retreat we may feel a little like Moses. We may come down from that mountain top experience feeling closer to God and maybe even feel like we are glowing with God’s love. Have you ever experienced this? If not, I would encourage you to consider attending a Walk to Emmaus retreat. There is one coming up in March. The reality is, however, we can experience this type of mountain top experience every day. We simply have to make the decision to seek and be aware of God’s presence in the ordinary. Jesus went out to the mountain to pray because it was a place he could concentrate on his prayer to God for an extended period of time. It was one of the ways he practiced solitude in his prayer life. We should do the same. We can also take that practice into our everyday life. If we are willing to seek God’s presence in every part of our day we can be on retreat every day. In order for this to happen we need to be intentional about creating the environments where the Holy Spirit will move. When we open our heart and mind to the possibilities that God has for us, amazing things can happen. Just as Jesus went up the mountain physically we can go to the mountain spiritually by simply turning to Jesus and seeking his presence. So will you head out to the mountain today? Seek God’s presence in every part of your day and pray through every moment of your day. If you will do this you will experience the mountain top today. You don’t have to go on a special retreat to experience the power of prayer. However, I highly recommend going on retreat regularly. The key is taking that mountain top experience back down into the valley with you. The God of the mountain top is also the God of the valley. God’s presence is the same in our highest highs and our lowest lows. I pray that you experience the fullness of all that God has in store for you today, throughout Lent, and always. Prayer: God, thank you for all of the experiences in my life. Help me to appreciate your presence in the valleys of my life as well as on the mountain top. I long to experience your presence in every moment. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to see you everywhere. When I see your presence I will be sure to give you all honor, glory, and praise. In the name of Jesus. Amen.