The stated purpose of Canaan’s Rest, as expressed in Canaan’s Rest constitution, is “to provide a place of solitude and rest, supported by a ministry of prayer, spiritual direction, healing and encouragement to pastors and laypersons, who desire to be renewed in their hearts, as they deepen their relationship with Christ.” With this in mind, Canaan’s Rest is meant to provide a spacious place, a safe place, a sacred space and a healing presence.
First, Canaan’s Rest is meant to be a “spacious place” – a place set apart by the Lord for believers who sense a prompting in their hearts for greater intimacy with Him. Psalms 18:19 depicts such a place: “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me.” This prompting can be described as a “hunger” or a “thirst” for God. Past experience of God and second description of who He is no longer satisfy the heart. There is an inner desire to know God in a deeper way. It is a call, as the Cistercian tradition puts it, “to return to the heart.” This desire is often accompanied by feelings of disorientation, resulting in confusion, doubt, uncertainty, and even anger. Those who sense this hunger or desire deep in their hearts realize that God is taking the initiative to deepen their relationship with Him. The question becomes: “What do I do about these promptings and where can I go to receive direction and discernment as to what is happening in my heart.”
In a culture and church environment, where the life of the heart is often ignored, depreciated, or trivialized, Canaan’s Rest provides a place where pilgrims can come and sense an open and inviting spiritual space to explore their life in God, and to experience the One who delights in them as He is calling them into a new place of fellowship with Him. Silence and solitude provide a time and space to listen to God as He speaks to the heart.
Secondly, Canaan’s Rest is meant to be a “safe place.” Because there is much misunderstanding, as well as ignorance about the life of the heart in the church, Canaan’s Rest is meant to provide a safe place where those who come may enter a spiritual and emotional climate that is welcoming, supportive, and encouraging of the spiritual journey, knowing that there has been pain, discouragement, disappointment, and even failure along the way. The ministry of Canaan’s Rest seeks to give reassurance, clarification, and direction to those who come. Hospitality that encourages honest, open sharing of the inner life is a vital element during a stay at Canaan’s Rest.
Thirdly, Canaan’s Rest is to provide a “sacred space.” In a day when God has been removed from “the public square” and many within the church have been unable to give guidance to those hungering for God, Canaan’s Rest is intended to create a sacred space in which God may be encountered, embraced, and understood in new ways. The idea of “retreating” apart for a time has been honored throughout the history of the church. Canaan’s Rest seeks to continue in this time-honored tradition of providing a sacred space and time alone in a “set apart” environment. Everything about Canaan’s Rest is meant to facilitate this encounter.
Fourthly, realizing that many will come with spiritual and emotional wounds, due to difficulties encountered on the journey, Canaan’s Rest seeks to provide a “healing presence” in which individuals can receive prayer for inner healing. Through spiritual direction, prayer, and encouragement, it is hoped that those who leave after a time at Canaan’s Rest, will be renewed, refreshed, and healed from having spent time in the healing presence of the Lord.
Canaan’s Rest is a prayer house nestled in the woods overlooking Mann Lake in northern Minnesota. Woods and lake provide a natural setting in God’s creation, where one is able to “dial down” while being with the Lord in His wonderful creation. It is meant to be a place for believers to be in solitude, spending their time in meditation, reflection, contemplation, and silence before the Lord. The use of Scriptures, along with other spiritual writing is recommended. A small library is available for those desiring additional resources.
By the same token, time spent at Canaan’s Rest is not to be considered a vacation or even a time away to unwind. It is meant to be an experience of silence, where much of one’s time will be spent in silent meditation and reflection. It is also meant to provide an opportunity, if desired, for spiritual direction, so that the time spent at Canaan’s Rest may be “processed” and discernment given and received.