From The Fruits of the Spirit
Now Christ, who so seldom gave detailed instruction about anything, did give some detailed instruction for that withdrawal, that recollection which is the essential condition of real prayer, real communion with God.
“Thou when thou prayest, enter into thy closet – and shut the door.”
I think we can almost see the smile with which he said those three words: and those three words define what we have to try to do. Anyone can retire into a quiet place and have a thoroughly unquiet time in it – but that is not making a Retreat! It is the shutting of the door which makes the whole difference between a true Retreat and a worried religious weekend.
Shut the door. It is an extraordinary difficult thing to do. Nearly every one pulls it to and leaves it slightly ajar so that a whistling draft comes in from the outer world, with reminders of all the worries, interests, conflicts, joy, and sorrows of daily life.
But Christ said, Shut, and he meant, Shut. A complete barrier deliberately set up, with you on one side alone with God and everything else without exception on the other side. The voice of God is very gentle; we cannot hear it if we let other voices compete. Our ordinary life, of course, is not lived like that and should not be; but this bit of life is to be lived like that. It is no use at all to enter that closet, that inner sanctuary, clutching the daily paper, the reports of all the societies you support, your engagement book, and a large bundle of personal correspondence. All these must be left outside. The motto is, God Only, God in himself, sought for himself alone.
The object is not Intercession or self exploration, but such communion with him as shall afterwards make you more powerful in intercession; and such self-loss in him as shall heal your wounds by new contact with his life and love.