The Invitation School of Prayer


Those who seek a life devoted to God have practiced various spiritual disciplines. Some may have even crafted something like a rule of life or what Dallas Willard calls a “curriculum of Christ-likeness.” Yet most of these people seeking devotion struggle to establish a consistent, year in and year out life practice that leads to deeper transformation. Almost all of us fail at these intentions because we are practicing alone without the encouragement and necessary patience and forgiveness of a community.


To acquire a life of devotion to God by forming a personal rule of life through study, practice, guidance, and communal discernment.

The School of Prayer is a journey of going deeper into God in solitude while nurtured in community. We can be alone with God while also together.

The journey of a devoted life is a journey of acquiring the humility of confessing our many failures, learning from those failures, and trusting the Spirit to continue to teach us, inspire us, and to offer us grace and inner strength.


The first year of this School of Prayer will be made up of a cohort of no less than six and no more than twelve Christ followers who will follow the same rule from September 15 through January 6 having studied and practiced more of the inner life of prayer while writing and re-writing their personal rules. This rule of life will then become each participants working draft that he or she will practice from January 6 through May 16.

Communal Rule of Life September 15 to January 6:  

*20-30 minutes of daily prayer and Scripture meditation.
*Each week, Wednesday moderate fast of one medium meal, two small meals, no snacks, desserts, alcohol, or sweet drinks.
*An intentional reduction or elimination of access to social media, news, and entertainment (TV shows, movies, sports, etc).
*Journal writing.
*Weekly exercise.
*Seven hours of sleep each night.
*Moderation in uses of money.
*Individually discerned practice of Sabbath keeping.
*Some weekly form of service to church or community.

Rule of Life January 6 to May 16
To be discerned, written, and re-written by you.

During the entire nine months participants will be invited to:

*read the length of or equivalent to a 250-page book every two months
*write short, reflective, journal-like papers to be shared in group discussion,
*practice one 32-hour retreat in silence and solitude.

Bi-monthly Monday 630-9pm meetings will include:
Group spiritual direction, spiritual friendship (dyad) conversations, contemplative prayer practices, book discussion, and teaching. Each participant will be asked to prepare and deliver short presentations, and to begin book discussions.

Calendar time frame:
Participants will begin and end the nine-month journey in a Saturday, day-long retreat. Two monthly gatherings will meet on most of the first and third Monday nights of each month, September through May.

Sept 15 Saturday Opening Retreat 8am-430pm
Sept 23 Monday 630-900pm
Oct 7 & Oct 21, Nov 4 & Nov 18, Dec 2 & Dec16, Jan 6 & Jan 20, Feb 3 & Feb 17, Mar 2 & Mar 16, April 6 & April 20, May 4
May 16 Saturday Closing Retreat 8am-430pm

Major themes & topics:
Spirituality of Study
Sabbath Keeping
Prayer of Examen
Contemplative Prayer

Books to be prayed and studied:
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
The Autobiography of St. Ignatius of Loyola,
Philokalia—The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts: Selections Annotated & Explained

The Way of the Pilgrim, anonymous
Into the Silent Land, Fr. Martin Laird
The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything,
Fr. James
Becoming Dallas Willard, Gary Moon
A Short Trip to the Edge, Scott Cairns
The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard

$575 if you plan to use the Invitation retreat space for your 32-hour retreat.
$500 if you would like to make your retreat elsewhere.

Fee includes:
*Food and beverage for the beginning and closing retreats
*Two sessions of one on one spiritual direction
*Access to the Invitation retreat space for one-hour time slots. Available with two-days advance notice.
*Copies the individual chapter readings.

 Fee does not include:
*Food for the 32-hour retreat of solitude and silence in the Invitation retreat space.

What I bring to this journey:
I am the creator and director of the fledgling nonprofit we have titled The Invitation. As I practice spiritual direction in and out of a prison, facilitate retreats, and create content for a podcast, I have discerned a further desire to go deeper with a committed group of people.

I have previously served as an equipper and trainer of worship leaders in the local church and in campus ministry. I am an adjunct professor in the Studies in Ministry Minor at Hope College, and I also teach some at the Dominican Center at Marywood in Grand Rapids, MI. I am also in the dissertation phase of my Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Direction through Fuller Seminary. My project is on the prison prayer practices, specifically a spirituality of confinement, the prison as a modern-day desert.

This little Invitation School of Prayer is my attempt to curate and facilitate a mix of study and practice that will be unique to me and the Invitation, a mixture that is different than what is available at the other venues I serve. Most recently I have participated in two journeys through Exodus-90, a rigorous practice of asceticism created for Catholic men. Exodus 90 along with my training in Spiritual Direction at the Dominican Center and further at Fuller Seminary, all have yet to help me solidify my own rule of life. I do not offer this School of Prayer as a master or expert but as one who has been thinking, praying, and practicing toward the question of a devoted life to Christ can become today.

How to get involved:
Please send me an email expressing your interest. Include in your email why you discern this is a good time for you to enter into this journey. After receiving your email, I’ll schedule some one on one time with you to discern further and together if this is a good fit for you.

Peace of Christ,

Josh Banner
josh at