• Columbia Heights Parish
Columbia Heights Parish

Columbia Heights Parish


Columbia Heights Educational Campus
3101 16th St NW

Service Times

10:00am & 11:30am

Kids' City  offered only at 10am service.




Aaron Graham



Contact Us

  • Phone: (202) 558-9745
  • Email: 
  • Mailing Address: 1616 7th St, NW, Washington DC, 20001 


Spiritual Retreats

Spiritual retreats can take different forms but the heart of the spiritual retreat is to make space to encounter and hear from God in a fresh way. When life is full and work is busy, it can be easy to feel blown about by competing demands and the chaos of everyday life; spiritual retreats are a way of taking a step out of the mess in order to recenter on God.

Planning Your Retreat

  1. Choose a location: Think a few places you love to spend time—places that, as soon as you arrive, you begin to feel a lightness of spirit (the woods, the beach, a coffee shop, your favorite chair). Which of these places might work for your prayer retreat?

  2. Choose a date: Taking into account regular seasons in our church life and your own life (New Year, leadership community retreat, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Easter, summer vacations, small group semesters, Advent, Christmas, etc.), when would be most beneficial for you to take your prayer retreat? Actually schedule the day—well in advance. (Be sure to clear it with your supervisor so that you feel entirely free to disengage from work on that day.)

  3. Plan the day: An entire day of prayer can feel daunting. The best way to avoid feeling a kind of pressure when you wake up on your day of prayer is to have a simple plan for the day. (Of course, you should also feel free to deviate from this plan in favor of wherever you sense the Spirit leading.)  Below is one simple option. You can use the second column to sketch a plan for your own prayer retreat.

  4. Report back: This is an opportunity -- not a requirement -- for you to engage deeper with your prayer retreat. Commit to sharing with your spouse, good friend, small group, or supervisor how you experienced God on the retreat. Consider sharing what God showed you during your prayer retreat by leading the devotional at staff meeting or a noon prayer session. It may also be helpful to write a one-page reflection/recap.

A few words about technology, distractions, and fasting

Most of us live in a Wi-Fi/smartphone world that assumes 24-7 access to everything. We have access to email, social media, web surfing, texting, people, information, and innumerable distractions at any moment of the day or night. This is both a great gift and a significant burden of our age.

Please carefully consider how you will use technology during your prayer retreat. If you are like most people, you may experience mild external pressure to remain connected. But more than likely the deeper challenge will be your own internal pressure to stay connected. Please consider what the following might do to enhance your experience during your prayer retreat:

  • Refrain from checking email when you wake up, before you leave, or at all during your retreat.

  • Consider leaving your laptop and/or tablet at home.

  • Turn off your cell phone (or switch to “airplane mode” if you are using it to listen to audio files).

Generally doing these things only requires a small effort of will and a little extra planning: download sound files ahead of time, print necessary documents, bring a print Bible rather than using the one on your phone or tablet, agree on a contact number in case of emergency (or that you will turn your phone on at 4pm), etc. Again, remember to let your supervisor and co-workers know when you will be on a prayer retreat so that they will know you are inaccessible that day.

The idea of a food fast during your prayer retreat may have occurred to you. While there is certainly merit to this idea, the question of a technology fast is potentially more important. Please consider it carefully.

8 Tips for Taking a Spiritual Retreat


Pray as You Go: Pray-as-you-go.org (Jesuits in Britain) offers a daily, guided scripture reflection in audio (web or podcast) form. Additionally, they offer several guided reflections based on the Examen, Stations of the Cross, etc.

Possible retreat locations

(Distances in miles are from DC)




National Portrait Gallery / Gallery of Art

Washington, NW


National Basilica

Washington, NE


The Hermitage @ Franciscan Monastery

Washington, NE


Washington National Cathedral

Washington, NW


National Arboretum

Washington, NE


Dayspring Silent Retreat Center

Germantown (28m)


Prince William Forest Park

Triangle (34.6m)


Huntley Meadows Park

Alexandria (15.8m)


Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Vienna (18.8m)


Conway Robinson State Forest

Gainesville (38m)


Holy Cross Abbey : Monastery

Berryville (61.8m)


Richmond Hill

Richmond (111m)


Corhaven (for overnight)

Shenandoah Valley (114m)


The Bellfry at Broadview Ranch (for overnight)

Lexington (200m)


Williamsburg Christian Retreat

Toano (142m)


You may be able to utilize these for devotionals or structured scripture readings or readings:
  • A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants, simple structure for daily stillness as well as 12 thematic personal retreats including suggested scripture, readings for reflection, and suggestions for how to spend the day
  • "The Lord and His Prayer" by N.T. Wright
  • "Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayer" by Anne Lamott
  • "Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer" by Eugene Peterson
  • "Red Moon Rising: Rediscover the Power of Prayer" by Pete Greig
Better for a broader perspective or deeper dive into prayer:
  • "Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God" by Dallas Willard
  • "Too Busy Not to Pray" by Bill Hybels
  • "Prayer: Does it Make a Difference?" by Phillip Yancey
  • "Prayer: Our Deepest Longing" by Ronald Rohlheiser
  • "Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God" by Tim Keller
  • "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" by Richard Foster
More in the area of soul care:
  • "Soul Keeping" John Ortberg
  • "Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership" by Ruth Haley Barton
  • "Sacred Rhythms" by Ruth Haley Barton
  • "God in My Everything" by Ken Shigematsu