Book Review: A 30 Day Retreat by William C. Mills

Vacation is a good time to catch up on reading and writing projects. One of those projects has been to read A 30 Day Retreat: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Renewal by William C. Mills (Paulist Press, 2010) for which I was asked to write a review. Here is a little bit about the book and why I think many of you would be interested in reading it.

The book begins with an introduction suggesting ways to read and use the book as a guide. Then thirty short chapters follow, one for each day of the retreat. Each day focuses on a different topic, such as confession, peace making, forgiveness, loneliness, neighbors, or meeting community needs. The chapter begins with a scripture reading on which one is encouraged to spend time reflecting. Following the reading, there is a short devotional in which the author uses engaging and practical examples to help us understand how the scripture interacts in our daily life. The examples may touch on things like deleting things from the computer hard drive or an episode of Narnia. Finally there are questions for further reflection and further scripture readings if one wants to explore the topic further.

The topics chosen by the author, who is a priest in the Orthodox Church, focus on qualities and practices that have been characteristic of Christians throughout the ages in many different Christian traditions. The topics answer the question: What does being a sincere follower of Jesus Christ look like? The book is a guide to some of those characteristics that scriptures indicate God wants to grow in us, and it certainly helps for us be intentional about following Christ’s lead. Because of the author’s simple explanations, this could be a good book to read by those who are considering becoming Christians. Yet it is also a good review for those of us who have been Christians for longer, since these practices are so basic we always need to relearn them in new ways and in new situations of our lives.

If one is interested in following the suggested pattern for a 30 day retreat, it will require setting aside time everyday to read the scripture, the author’s meditation and prayer. Daily scripture reading is certainly an excellent practice to develop, and a 30 day study is a good way to start. Reading the book this way may be helpful during Lent, Advent or maybe in the summer when schedules are less demanding. Perhaps another option would be to do a chapter a week, reading the assigned scripture a number of times as well as the extra readings. That would also gives more time through the week to think about the questions and how they might apply personally. A third suggestion is to work through the book with a Christian friend or a small group. Many readers could benefit by having someone with whom to discuss the readings and discussion questions, a partner on the spiritual journey. This could easily be a fall to spring commitment for a group who wishes to deepen their spiritual lives.

I am grateful to have read the book and grateful to the author who helps us think through what it means to grow as followers of Christ in the 21st century.


  1. I will be on the lookout for this book at our Scripture Union book store for sure!