In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ challenged His disciples, "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Mt. 6:6). Are we to take this literally? During seminary at Moody, the dormitory that I'd stay in had several prayer closets in the bottom of the dorm to go and pray. It had a small bench, a ledge for a Bible, and a light inside. I would see the light on late into the night hours at times. I had never had a specific quiet place where I spent time with the Father but really loved the idea.
Jesus Christ would visit the garden of Gethsemane on multiple times during His life, which was just East of Jerusalem at the base of the Mount of Olives, to spend time with His Father. It was a place of quietness with little or no disturbances. It was a place where Christ was refreshed and He shared His heart's desires with God the Father. It was a place where Christ returned with understanding and peace that only comes from spending time with the Father. Christ's prayer ministry was essential for daily strength and He made it a priority to happen in the midst of His busy schedule. Jesus Christ conveyed to His followers the importance of having one-on-one time with the Father. I believe the intent of the passage is that prayer is not a production to be seen of man. In the stillness and quietness of the soul, God's Holy Spirit who dwells within us allows us to commune with God the Father. He petitions God for us when we have nothing to say and don't even know how to say it (Romans 8:26). Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God as an advocate for us and he petitions the Father on our behalf when we pray (1 John 2:1).
I certainly believe in praying everywhere, all the time, and for all matters (1 Thess. 5:17). However, God desires so much more than our windshield time behind the steering wheel of the car. I believe, according to the New Testament, that God welcomes and desires corporate prayer. The question remains, "what does my personal prayer time look like with God?". Is it something that I prize, value, and look forward to? Or, is it more of a chore and something I hope I can remember in order to sooth my conscience? Could that prayer time be wrapped up in three prayers a day prior to the three meals that would be eaten? Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still my soul and know that I am God,...". The tendency is to maximize life, make the most of every hour, and not skip a beat. We tend to squeeze in the most important things and people to us. The tragedy is that my life can be void of true life because I fail to spend time in my secret garden (wherever that may be for you) with Him.
God wants to answer us but we may not be spending time to share our hearts with Him in order for Him to bring the comfort and answer He wants us to hear. Might we need to find a secret garden to spend more alone time with Him???