If establishing a regular prayer time is important, so is designating a regular prayer place. Some people pray in public places, at social gatherings and at mealtimes just so they can be seen and heard and assumed to be religious.; But prayer, Jesus says, is not a spectator sport. It is not something we are to engage in to give off signals of spirituality. 'Forget that idea' says Jesus.
Instead, when you pray, go into your room and shut the door. Find a small room, an empty office, the workshop out in the garage, some secret place where you can be away from people and alone with God. That's where you can pray most effectively... The place you choose may be more important than you think. When you establish a time and a place, it becomes integrated into the rhythm of your life. I'm a morning person, so I typically arrive at work before anyone else is there. Every day. I sit down in my office chair, swivel around, prop my feet up and reach for my spiral notebook, a Bible and a weak cup of black coffee.
This routine has taken such root in my life that it tends to take precedence even over more logical considerations, such as whether I need to be in the office on a particular day. If I'm not preaching that weekend, or if it's my day off, most of the time I still show up, just to spend those precious moments with God... Once you identify such a place and begin to use it regularly, a kind of aura surrounds it. Your prayer room, even if it is a laundry room in the basement, becomes to you what the Garden of Gethsemane became to Jesus - a holy place, the place where God meets with you.
Bill Hybels, "Too Busy Not To Pray" - p54-56
Now I don't see Hybels negating the role of public prayer here... he's not saying prayer should only be done in a private, secret place. But I think he makes a compelling argument that if you don't take prayer seriously enough to invest in private time like Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:5-13, then you don't have the right to pray in public. If you do one without the other then you are only praying to be seen, but if you have the private time, then your public prayers are simply inviting others to join with you in what you usually share with God alone.
So then where do you pray? I am not sure I have one 'secret' place, but living on my own means that my whole house is my own private place, so sitting having my cereal each morning at my dining table is a common place for me to pray, other times it is the couch, or even my bed. I do wonder though about the wisdom of creating a 'prayer place', maybe purchasing a comfy chair to put in my spare room with a coffee table, or something that can symbolically become the place I meet God each day.
Interested in other people's ideas, I am really searching to enhance my prayer life at the moment.