Day Apart Retreat

May 2020 | Daniel 1: The 3 D’s and the 3 R’s

Introduction and Orientation

Taking dedicated time for prayer is modeled for us through all of Scripture. It is often talked about as going into the desert or wilderness. Moses meets God in the desert, God takes Israel into the desert after Egypt to teach them about God’s self, David seeks God in the wilderness while shepherding and when fleeing from Saul, Elijah meets God there when he’s scared for his life, and Paul goes to the desert for several years after Jesus confronts him on his way to Damascus. There are many examples of meeting God in solitude and silence.

What is a Day Apart Retreat?

The Day Apart Retreat is a way to engage with the Lord in silence and solitude. Despite the name “day apart” you don’t have to have an entire day to dedicate.  You may only have part of a day or an hour.  That’s okay.  Use the time that you have.  The retreat is written in two parts: an arrival reflection and a Scripture reflection.  It may be helpful to take a break in between, or to simply use the guides below to riff off of.  Do as the Lord leads!

But, I can’t do this! (Things to know before you start, or decide not to start)

  • You may be thinking, “I’m not wired for solitude” or “I can’t do that, I’m not spiritual enough.”  Rest assured, the most important part is simply showing up, which you are doing!  
  • Wherever you are, however you are entering the day is fine! We don’t have to get ourselves right before we meet with God. Through Jesus’ sacrifice and forgiveness we are able to come to God with great confidence (Heb. 4:15-16).
  • God is in control of the time. Accept whatever God gives you in your time and be thankful. God may speak powerfully to you, or you may have a quiet time. Trust God that you will get what you need.
  • Don’t worry about your mind wandering. It happens to all of us. It might help to pay attention to where it goes and see if there is something there you need to share with God.
  • Being fidgety is pretty normal, too. Our bodies are used to activity, so slowing down is a discipline. It is alright to walk a bit while you’re praying. But try not to get hooked into any productive activity, i.e. cleaning the room, reading something you’ve been putting off…
  • You can’t get the day right or wrong. The choice you’ve made is your best intention.
  • You may want to get some materials ready before you begin: water, Bible, journal/paper, pen, and print out this guide if you are able (so you aren’t tempted to look at your phone/computer). 
The Lord is with you! Enjoy!

Arrival Reflection

  • What has been most surprising to you as you’ve lived through the last eight weeks?
  • What has been most difficult during the pandemic?
  • What have been the bright spots during your “stay at home” time?
  • How has your life with God been in these weeks? What have you discovered about your life of faith?
  • In what ways has the Lord spoken to you during this time? How has your listening been?
  • One way of framing the world’s experience during the pandemic is dislocation, disorientation, disillusion. Reflect on how you’ve been through each of these circumstances.
  •  These three “D’s” can lead to the three “R’s”: relocation, reorientation, reality. Where are you on your journey from the D’s to the R’s?

Scripture Reflection

In the arrival reflection, you were asked to think about dislocation, disorientation, and disillusionment, which can lead to relocation, reorientation, and reality. In this next section you will be guided to interact with one of  the instances in the Scriptures where God’s people go through world altering events with similar responses.

According to Daniel 1, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were carried off into captivity to Babylon in the first wave of deportations, which took place in 597 B.C. Even though God had been telling the people of Judah through the prophets that this was going to happen, the Kings of Judah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. In response, he overthrew the city and carried off King Jehoiakim, his family, and the elite of the land. Nebuchadnezzar robbed the temple and took the best and brightest of the people off to Babylon to enhance his own nation.

As you begin, take as much time as you need to settle down and give yourself to the Lord. Think about your intention for this time. What posture do you want to have before God in these next moments? It might help to offer a prayer telling Jesus that you want to hear from this passage the message God has for you today.

When you are ready, read through Daniel 1 several times (below). Take your time. If you are comfortable with it, read it aloud to yourself. Read with your heart, soul, mind and body. What stands out to you from this chapter?  After reading and pondering, use the reflection questions below the Scripture to help you more fully listen to what the Lord may be saying. 

Daniel 1

In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord let King Jehoiakim of Judah fall into his power, as well as some of the vessels of the house of God. These he brought to the land of Shinar, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his gods. Then the king commanded his palace master Ashpenaz to bring some of the Israelites of the royal family and of the nobility, young men without physical defect and handsome, versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight, and competent to serve in the king’s palace; they were to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine. They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king’s court. Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, from the tribe of Judah. The palace master gave them other names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself. Now God allowed Daniel to receive favor and compassion from the palace master. The palace master said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink. If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations, and deal with your servants according to what you observe.” So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations. So the guard continued to withdraw their royal rations and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom; Daniel also had insight into all visions and dreams. At the end of the time that the king had set for them to be brought in, the palace master brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, and the king spoke with them. And among them all, no one was found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they were stationed in the king’s court. In every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. And Daniel continued there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Scripture Reflection Questions

  • Place yourself in Daniel and the other Judean’s position prior to and during the conquest and deportation. What was life like before Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar?

 

 

  • It would have taken several months to make the trip from Judah to Babylon. What do you imagine about that journey? If you were among them, what questions would you have? What swirl of emotions might you experience? If it helps, think through the issues of dislocation, disorientation, and disillusionment.

 

 

  • Take several minutes to list all the changes that you can see in the passage and imagine that the captives underwent.

 

 

  • In what ways does Daniel make accommodations to his new situation? There are things he resists, but others he allows. What accommodations have you made in the last several weeks?

 

 

  • Sit with these changes and reflect on your life over the last eight weeks (for some of you the past several months). What similarities do you see?

 

 

  • Now read through the chapter again looking for the ways in which Daniel moves toward relocation, reorientation, and reality. Make a list of the actions and attitudes you see to which he commits.

 

 

  • Make note of the places that God is present in the chapter. What observations and interpretations do you have from this reflection?

 

 

  • What beliefs, actions, and behaviors can you take from Daniel and apply to your current situation to help you move toward relocation, reorientation, and being grounded in reality?

 

 

  • In what ways might you ask God to be present for you as God was present for Daniel and his friends? How have you already seen God at work these past weeks?

 

 

  • What issues or thoughts have been raised for you in this reflection that you need to spend more time with the Lord on? Use the rest of your time  to talk with God about this, and to rest and relax.