Invitation to Retreat
Academy of Parish Clergy Top Ten List
"Come away and rest awhile."
Jesus invites us to be with him, offering our full and undivided attention to him. When we choose retreat, we make a generous investment in our friendship with Christ. We are not always generous with ourselves where God is concerned. Many of us have tried to incorporate regular times of solitude and silence into the rhythm of our ordinary lives, which may mean that we give God twenty minutes here and half an hour there. And there’s no question we are better for it! But we need more. Indeed, we long for more.
In these pages Transforming Center founder and seasoned spiritual director Ruth Haley Barton gently leads us into retreat as a key practice that opens us to God. Based on her own practice and her experience leading hundreds of retreats for others, she will guide you in a very personal exploration of seven specific invitations contained within the general invitation to retreat. You will discover how to say yes to God's winsome invitation to greater freedom and surrender.
There has never been a time when the invitation to retreat is so radical and so relevant, so needed and so welcome. It is not a luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual life.
"I have had the privilege of being on retreat with Ruth as she led with a passion and patience that refueled us weary travelers on the faith journey. If you are desperate to meet God, start with this book. Invitation to Retreat forced me to accept a truth all Christians must grapple with: unless we retreat into solitude and silence to be alone with our God, we will never have a real relationship with him. We will spend our lives believing we have a relationship because we go to church, hear about God from others, read and study about God, even hang theological diplomas on our walls. Yet even then, we may not know him. This book is an invitation into the process and the practice of building intentional rhythms into this busy life of ours—to simply be with the One who loved us first and actually have a relationship with God."
"A wise new guide to retreat, dealing not just with practical questions on how but the even more significant why. Ruth Haley Barton reminds us we need to pause, rest, relent, and let God take charge. She mentions many guides and wisdom figures, but the best is God's Spirit working in us when we let go. I was struck by her final chapter about coming back from retreat strengthened to bless others who need our counsel. Invitation to Retreat is powerful."
"Early on in Ruth Haley Barton's Invitation to Retreat, she levels the chilling diagnosis: 'If we are honest, many of us have given up hope that we will ever be rested.' Far from hopeless, however, Ruth lays out the comprehensive antidote. From her insightful analysis of just what is making us so tired, to her incredibly inviting description of 'strategic withdrawal,' to the copious practical retreat materials and suggestions, this book might be the first thing you pack for your next retreat. Like a consummate wilderness guide, Ruth paints an enticing picture of the destination then patiently leads us every step of the way."
"Ruth is one of single greatest gifts God has brought into my life, and I believe she is a prophetic voice bringing healing and hope to pastors and leaders that are desperate to find rest. Ruth speaks from a deep and authentic well. She has done her own work in creating rhythms of rest that relinquish control, respond to the voice of God, and recalibrate life so she is healthy and whole. You hold in your hands one of the most impactful books I have read."
"I have had the great privilege of attending retreats led by Ruth Haley Barton on more than a dozen occasions. Because she knows the demands of ministry firsthand, her invitation for pastors and leaders to retreat is an urgent one, with a singular focus: to have a fresh encounter with God for our own soul's sake. Invitation to Retreat lays a foundation for the necessity of retreat, but it also serves as a guide for those who have the courage to accept the invitation itself."
"This book offers practical guidance and astonishing insight into the physical, psychological, and spiritual dynamics of intentional solitude. Thank you, Ruth Haley Barton, for sharing your well-earned wisdom about listening to the heart of the Creator and the authentic self."
"Many years ago when I was just a few years into ministry, I took my first spiritual retreat. I didn't know what to expect, and I didn't know what to do. But more than that I didn't know how desperately I needed it. Ruth led the retreat. Since that first retreat to this very day, Ruth has been a friend, mentor, and advocate for my soul. She has invited me and led me time and again to places of rest, replenishment, and retreat.
This book is the embodiment of how she lives and leads. It is an echo of the invitation given by Jesus to simply 'come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' You need this book more than you know. Trust me. You do. And if you are willing to say yes to this invitation to retreat, I believe you will find a burden that is far lighter than you have made it and a Savior who is far closer than you imagined."
"I have been taking retreats for most of my adult life—how I wish I had this book long ago to guide me! Ruth provides practical ways to make our time alone with God much more intentional and ultimately more life giving. After I put the book down, I was ready to schedule a retreat armed with a whole new perspective and plan."
"When Ruth Haley Barton shared her new manuscript with me for Invitation to Retreat, I knew it would prove to be another powerful tool to enjoy and experience the presence of God. However, I was unprepared for such practical, honest, and open insights into the spiritual discipline of retreat. If we're serious about true spiritual transformation, I would encourage all of us to explore God's invitation to get away, rest, and reflect through the pages of this book."
"Invitation to Retreat paints an alluring picture of what a retreat can really be: a generous use of time, a way to savor rest, or a space to hear God more clearly. Barton's book provides the permission and understanding that are needed to revel in the spacious practice of retreat."
Introduction: Invitation to Retreat
1. Strategic Withdrawal
2. Just Flop Down
3. The Sources of Our Exhaustion
4. Finding Your Rhythm on Retreat
5. Sweet Hours of Prayer
6. Letting Go of Your Grip
7. Relinquishing False-Self Patterns
8. Space for Discernment
9. Invitation to Recalibrate
10. Finding Spiritual Freedom
11. Remember the Signs
12. In Returning and Rest You Shall Be Saved
Appendix 1: Fixed-Hour Prayer
Appendix 2: Planning Your Retreat