Long Form

Retreat #7 Sharon Garlough Brown, Mark 1:35-38 No. 35 by Joshua Banner

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This winter has been intense, the church is struggling, our politics are a mess.

In episode 31 with Jonathan Wilson Hargrove, I suggest that prayer is deeply connected to our politics. I’ll leave you to work out those things for now. I am committing to small amounts of daily news and larger amounts of prayer for my neighbors near and far.

In terms of the church: I’m watching pastors resign their positions on a local level and reeling from the recent conviction of a high-ranking cardinal in the Catholic Church. I vividly understand the real discouragement with organized religion, yet even still I dare to hope. The Invitation exists to serve the church, to build up the body of Christ.

At home we’ve struggled here to get much of anything done with sickness and kids home from school on snow days. We have often feel trapped and then of course we easily get on each other’s nerves and angry with each other.

There are many things that could keep us from prayer. There are many things that could harden our hearts and close our hearts.

 How do you keep your heart connected to God’s warmth when the cold days are long and cruel? How do you hear the Good News when our public conversations are full of so much bad news?

Praying in the prison is my greatest subversive act of hope in our culture of despair. Prayer is rebellion against the status quo. I am buoyed with the goodness of finding love and patience, wisdom and kindness in the darkness of a prison.

Offering you prayer resources through the Invitation is another subversive act. I find great comfort and delight knowing that my practice of spiritual direction offered through the Invitation Podcast is invigorated by the movements of the Holy Spirit in a prison, and that this goodness is able to somehow reaching you wherever you are spread across the world.

I just looked. The Invitation has listeners in Austria, South Africa, Puerto Rico, and Peru among other places. It’s a small group, but the Spirit can do much with our small things.

This episode is a long-form retreat from our dear friend, retreat leader, spiritual director, and author, Sharon Garlough Brown. Conversation #3, episode No. 7 is a conversation with Sharon. This time she helps us consider the spiritual disciplines that Jesus practiced by walking us through Mark 1:35-38 in prayer and meditation. 

I pray that this audio retreat will help you live into and practice your own subversive acts of hope and joy. I pray there will be ripple effects of goodness and light all around you today.

Peace of Christ,



Loving God With Your 'Muchness' - Summer Retreat Part 6 No. 28 by Joshua Banner


How ‘bout a Nice Hot Cup of Die to Yourself?

The essence of following Jesus is an idea that offends our minds: to Love God with all of our Strength, you must become weak. This is an other-worldly, a Kingdom of Jesus-the God-Who-Became-Weak concept.

What if our church marquee’s read “Come on in to worship with us and have a nice hot cup of die to yourself?”

Many of us have become so accustomed to the Gospel that we haven’t taken the deeply offensive nature of what he is asking us: we must die to ourselves, to this world, to our best ideas and deepest passions. The Gospel is no longer “offensive” to us. It is not moving in on us and invading our hearts and minds. To follow Jesus, we must confess with John the Baptist, “that I may decrease so that he can increase” in me and in the world around me.

In this final movement of the Summer Retreat 2018, we offer out bodies as living sacrifices to God. This episode uses a lectio divina format using the Message translation of Romans 12:1-2. The focus question is how does love for God in the heart, mind and soul become tangible and concrete through action. How can love become active in my daily life?

With the end of this summer experiment and now that we are officially a not for profit, the Invitation is moving into a season of fundraising with a kickstarter campaign launched later in the Fall while also searching for long-term, sustaining supporters. If the Invitation has been of help to you and if you believe it will be of help to others, please subscribe to the podcast, help spread the word about the Invitation and about the crowd-funding with kickstarter, join us in spiritual friendship, and become a sustaining supporter!

The Love & Peace of Jesus Christ to you,



Retreat #6 "Meditation on Psalm 131" Renovaré co-release no. 21 by Joshua Banner

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This retreat is a co-release with our friends over at Renovaré. To participate in their other offerings especially this month visit www.renovare.org/podcast. There you will find a tremendous amount of resources to help you in your spiritual journey.

Here I’m offering two episodes for you that might deepen your Lenten journey.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15,16

Lent is a season for us to come to terms with just how evil our days are. That is to say that during Lent we accept our desperate need for a Savior. I have tried to take in the news less frequently, but the school shooting at Parkland Florida and the questions of gun violence keep me returning to my phone. This national conversation is just one of many examples of the perilous nature of the world.
In my last short-format, five-minute retreat, ‘Begging,’ I borrowed a section from a recent conversation with pastor, activist, and author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove where he explains, “prayer is begging.” This month Jonathan releases his newest book, Reconstructing The Gospel: Finding Freedom From Slaveholder Religion. Racism. Poverty. School shootings. Spiritual poverty. Yes, the days are evil. Lent. Let’s rehearse again how we need a Savior.
Then in our most recent episode, Nathan Foster leads us through a long-format retreat with Psalm 131: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother, my soul is like a weaned child that is within me.” Our groaning, longing, and begging for a Savior doesn’t lead us to despair. It leads us deeper to a confidence that even though Christ has died, Christ will rise and come again. Nathan’s guided prayer helps us confess our sins of false comfort and then to rest in the comfort that quiets and calms our souls to the point that we can truly “hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.”


Retreat #5 Lament: To Cleanse Your Spiritual Eyes no. 17 by Joshua Banner


As we enter Advent, we take a sober look at the darkness in and around us to prepare for the dawning of a Great Light. If we do not honestly look at this darkness, we diminish our exceeding need for the light of Jesus.

Eastern Orthodox spirituality richly embraces this honest, necessary look into the darkness by teaching that tears are a second baptism. If we truly weep over our sins, the compunction of our tears refreshes and renews our identity as children adopted into the Kingdom of God. Surely we also return to the essence of our baptism, our identity resurrection with and in Jesus when we turn to him in the midst of suffering and offer prayers of lament.

One third of the Psalms are lamentation, yet there is not one lectionary from any Christian tradition that includes lament in this proportion throughout the scope of its annual worship. We are able to say then that none of our worship is fully Biblical. None of us sufficiently bring our complaints, confusions, doubts, and anger to God. There is much for us to learn about ourselves and God in and through lament. 

The novelist and essayist Fredrick Buechner explains, "Before the Gospel is a word, it is silence." This is to also mean that "The Gospel is bad news before it is good news." Advent, like Lent is a time to imagine the grief and misery of a world without a savior. If we open ourselves with humility, we will also see how we have resisted God and made our lives desolate. We will see how we have allowed ourselves to live in darkness.

I invite you to participate in this fifth, long-format retreat to consider that lament is not an end it itself. Instead we explore how speaking honestly with God can heal us. Opening the door to our pain allows us to see the prognosis our our sin-sick lives and our sin-sick world. If we locate the source and location of the pain, we can then more intentionally invite the Holy Spirit into our suffering.

Peace of Christ to you!


Original music with help from Jared DeMeester and Josh Holicki.

Retreat #4 Julian of Norwich 'For God Wishes' no. 14 by Joshua Banner

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"For God wishes to be seen.
For God wishes to be sought.
God wishes to be expected.
God wishes to be trusted.
God wishes to be enjoyed."

In this long-form retreat Nathan Foster leads us prayerfully through these invitational words of Julian of Norwich. As I sit with Julian's words just now, I am mindful of the many people who have been endangered by hurricanes and flooding, racism and hate crimes this summer. I understand that our country is in the midst of a kind of collective trauma that is the result of various forces that press and push on us.

How can we enjoy God in the midst of all this? In the context of such suffering one might be tempted to discourage any attempts at delight, rest, retreat, tenderness, and vulnerability. Surely it is time for action, for service, and sacrifice. Yet if we don't also find delight in seeking God, the joy of expecting God to show up--if we are not able to bear trust in our inner beings, then our action and service are likely to be vain. 

This is the point of the Gospel invitation: Jesus says "go into the fray with and through me. You don't need to suffer without me. Seek me. Expect me. Learn to trust me. Enjoy me."

Nathan and I are delighted to offer you an accessible guide to opening yourself to God in audio form. I invite you to participate in this retreat. Listen HERE.

This audio retreat is a co-release with Renovaré. Please pray for us as we discern future collaborations. If you would like to know more about Renovaré, visit renovare.org. Also, if you missed my previous conversation with Nathan, check it out below.

Peace & Love to you!


In Conversation #5 Nathan Foster no. 12 /June 26, 2017Nathan and I sit down to talk about various ways to pursue God through spiritual discipline. We talk about ecumenicism, mysticism, and parenting. Nathan is someone who has struggled and yet continues to hope in the abundant life with Jesus, to believe that God can and will continue to transform his life beyond anything he could ask or imagine.

Retreat #3 - Revelation 3 no. 4 by Joshua Banner

"I will come in to you to eat with you, and you with me."

September 18, 2016

We eat from many different tables even while the Spirit of Christ has invited us to eat from the abundance of his table. As CS Lewis has said, "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us....We are far too easily pleased."

Yet, how do we sit down and participate in the greater pleasures of God? This retreat slowly and carefully guides you through Scripture, quotes from great authors (Fredrick Buechner, Origen, Theophan the Recluse), and questions for you to consider, all to help you become more familiar with God in prayer.

Join me for Retreat #3 as we meditate on Revelation 3 and consider the inner regions of our hearts.

“Save My Life” Josh Banner 1999
“Always Faithful” by Brad Kilman www.bradkilman.com
"Silence" Josh Banner and Susanna Childress 1999
Josh with Jared DeMeester (uke & upright bass)
Other sound design by Josh (rhodes w/ fx) & Josh Holicki (snare)
“Light of Jesus” Instrumental Josh Banner

Retreat #2 - Jeremiah 29 no. 3 by Joshua Banner

June 29, 2016

"I will come in to you to eat with you, and you with me."

How do we sit down and participate in the greater pleasures of God? This retreat slowly and carefully guides you through Scripture, quotes from great authors (Fredrick Buechner, Origen, Theophan the Recluse), and questions for you to consider, all to help you become more familiar with God in prayer.

We are all so busy. Aren't we? We are impatient, too. We are, each of us, in our hearts, restless. But there is hope, even if there isn't an easy fix.

"God is in no hurry with you."

What if our restlessness is a sign of our hunger for God? What if it is, in fact, a gift? God is in no hurry with you. What if God is the most patient and gentle being in the entire universe? What if He is pleased with even your smallest efforts?

Join me for Retreat #2 as we meditate on Jeremiah 29 and explore exile, restlessness, and searching for our home in God. In prayer we discover that He is not so far off. He is closer to us than we are to ourselves!

“Save My Life” Josh Banner 1999
“Always Faithful” by Brad Kilman www.bradkilman.com
"Silence" Josh Banner and Susanna Childress 1999
Josh with Jared DeMeester (uke & upright bass)
Other sound design by Josh (rhodes w/ fx) & Josh Holicki (snare)
“Light of Jesus” Instrumental Josh Banner