"Days of silence and of intense grace...prayer face to face with God...Days on retreat. Recollection in order to know God, to know yourself and thus to make progress. A necessary time for discovering where and how you should change your life. What should I do? What should I avoid?" (St. Josemaria Escrivá)
In military terms, a retreat is a "forced or strategic withdrawal before the enemy." Perhaps that's appropriate for Lent - to strategically withdraw from the world and draw closer to God. A time we force ourselves to sacrifice and do penance in order to prepare for battle: in this case, however, the battle is internal for we must conquer ourselves.
The biblical priest Ezra, on his return to Jerusalem, needed God's help on the journey. "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might deny ourselves before God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions...So we fasted and petitioned our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty." (Ezra 8:21, 23) Time spent in denial of self and reliance on God is time well spent; it sharpens us to hear and understand God's word for us.
Fr. Escrivá knew that if we don't carve out time to interact personally and deeply with God, our prayer can become superficial and almost meaningless. Lent is a time we can retreat and even surrender yet still be victorious - for if we surrender to God we can claim victory for our lives.
St. Josemaria Escrivá, pray for us!