“Let us mark, secondly, the importance to Christians of occasional privacy and retirement.
We are told, that when the apostles returned from their first ministerial work, our Lord ‘took them and went aside privately into a desert place.’ (Luke 9:10) We cannot doubt that this was done with a deep meaning.
It was meant to teach the great lesson that those who do public work for the souls of others, must be careful to make time for being alone with God.
The lesson is one which many Christians would do well to remember.
Occasional retirement, self-inquiry, meditation, and secret communion with God, are absolutely essential to spiritual health. The man who neglects them is in great danger of a fall.
To be always preaching, teaching, speaking, writing, and working public works, is, unquestionably, a sign of zeal. But it is not always a sign of zeal according to knowledge.
It often leads to untoward consequences. We must make time occasionally for sitting down and calmly looking within, and examining how matters stand between our own selves and Christ.
The omission of the practice is the true account of many a backsliding which shocks the Church, and gives occasion to the world to blaspheme.
Many could say with sorrow, in the words of Canticles, “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard have I not kept.’ (Song of Solomon 1:6)”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 226-227. Ryle is commenting on Luke 9:7-11.