Robert Murray McCheyne recognised just how crucial private prayer was for his Christian life and his ministry. In some notes, written towards the end of his life, called "Reformation in Secret Prayer" he says:
I ought to pray before seeing any one [in the morning]. Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, and then have family prayer, and breakfast, and forenoon callers, often it is eleven or twelve o'clock before I begin secret prayer. This is a wretched system. . . . Family prayer loses much of its power and sweetness; and I can do no good to those who come to seek from me. The conscience feels guilty, the soul unfed, the lamp not trimmed. Then, when secret prayer comes, the soul is often out of tune. . . .
It is far better to begin with God—to see his face first—to get my soul near Him before it is near another. "When I awake I am still with Thee." If I have slept too long, or am going on an early journey, or my time is in any way shortened, it is best to dress hurriedly, and have a few minutes alone with God, than to give it up for lost. But in general, it is best to have at least one hour alone with God, before engaging in anything else. . . .
I ought to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God. It is my noblest and most fruitful employment, and is not to be thrust into any corner. The morning hours, from six to eight, are the most uninterrupted, and should be thus employed, if I can prevent drowsiness. A little time after breakfast might be given to intercession. After tea is my best hour, and that should be solemnly dedicated to God, if possible. . . . [And] when I awake in the night, I ought to rise and pray, as David and as John Welsh did.