Usually you get ramped up at a retreat and when you go home it’s a letdown. Using Essential Practices was completely different. It is what a retreat should be and it’s an important part of disciple-making. When our retreat was over, most of the participants told me that this was “the most impactful retreat ever.” One man who had been to many, many retreats sent me an email the next morning that said, “Best retreat ever!”
Our small group of women was getting a little stale after doing more books and Bible studies than we could count. When we began doing the Essential Practices, we weren’t sure at first—this was something completely different. But our discussions got deeper and deeper into the real issues of life that we had avoided, and we felt a deep impact from doing the practices. Now we use our Essential Practices books so much that we carry them around with our Bibles.
Our Wednesday night groups are getting better and better each week rather than slowing down. People are really sharing and talking. I had several people talk with me after the last one, and one gentleman who has been working with professional counselors on some of his anxiety came to talk with me. I think the Spirit is using the Essential Practices for an overhaul of his life.
We decided to use the Essential Practices book for a Lent focus last year. The best results came from people who did it in groups, although some tried it as individuals. When the stories started coming in—Wow! My favorite was a father and his daughter who both have issues with anxiety. He had been using the book, and one morning as he dropped her off for school, she was really nervous about something coming up that day. He had been working through ‘Relinquishment,’ so he took her through the steps quickly. She says ‘Thanks, Dad!’ and bolts out of the car like she didn’t have a care in the world. I know the Essential Practices are not some magic bullet; it’s the Lord working in us. But this stuff is powerful.