The ancient people considered desert as an ideal place for fasting, prayer, and communion with God. It provides silence, seclusion, distancing from material goods and freedom from distractions.
God tested the Israelites in the desert, and they had to live in there for forty years because of their unfaithfulness to God. After refining them, He allowed them to enter the promised land. Moses, Elijah, the Essenes community, John the Baptist, and many ancient fathers of the church preferred the desert as a perfect place for communion with God. Jesus also chose the desert to prepare for his public ministry. The synoptic gospels record that, after his baptism, Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days in the desert. The devil tempted him there at the end of his fasting. He overcame the temptation.
The desert helps to ignore the worldly desires and concentrate on God’s love and devotion. Imitating Jesus, the early Christians also selected desert for meditation and fasting. Anthony of Egypt was a pioneer in desert spirituality. Monasticism developed from this.
The distractions of the modern world affect people to ignore God and keep away from prayer and meditation. Though desert is a barren place with adverse life-situations, any place of retreat would help us find time for seclusion with God and to review and renew our lives.