I know, I KNOW...setting aside any time in the day is difficult. It's HARD.

But setting aside prayer time, time with GOD, is the most important time of your day and without it, the rest of the time just doesn't go the same, does it?

So how do you do it?

Well, for me, my best time is when the rest of the house is quiet.  And while that doesn't please my tired body at 6am when my alarm goes off, it does please my soul.   So that's what I do.  I set the alarm for 6 (or a time that I know I'll have at LEAST a half hour or more to wash my face, get that first 16 ounces of water in, maybe make a cup of coffee and start my morning devotion time in a QUIET, peaceful atmosphere).  I like to have more than that half hour, but sometimes my body is too tired.  Regardless, I like to have as much quiet time for my reading and prayer as possible.

I start out with some quiet prayer time.  I may say a few of our Orthodox morning prayers...

From my bed and sleep Thou hast raised me:  O Lord, enlighten my mind and my heart, and open my lips that I may praise thee, O Holy Trinity:  Holy, holy, holy art thou, O God.  Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.

but mostly this is quiet time for me to talking to God, thanking Him for my blessings, asking him to increase my faith and telling him what's on my mind.

I, personally, save most of my formal prayers for Morning Prayer time with my family (or, as it turns out most days, me with my youngest son).  I follow this up with my daily readings, and either studying the psalms (one that I'm working on memorizing and one or two extra), more Gospel reading or the book of Isaiah (which just happens to be the book I'm trying to work on currently, using a bible study guide to help me along and understand this prophetic book more clearly).  Sometimes I follow up with another book on the Orthodox Faith or a devotional or similar book.  Currently this is when I'm trying to read a minimum of five pages of Thirty Steps To Heaven- the book I chose to focus on for the season of Lent.

Your prayer time may look similar to mine or it may look completely different.  There is no hard and fast rule.  BUT ,  you should have a rule.  Something to guide yourself to be sure you always have that prayer time.

Now- keep in mind-  do allow for flexibility.  Your time of prayer rule shouldn't be dogma.  There are times it just won't be possible to keep it.  Times you may need to pray earlier, later. in a different place (my preferred place is my comfy living room chair) or dramatically shorten the time.  The important thing is that you do make your prayer time, your time with God, a regular routine.  It's too important to continuously skip.

While remembering to allow for flexibility, think about what time is best for you?  Morning? Afternoon?  Early evening? Bedtime?  Does it need to be a quiet time like mine?  Maybe distractions aren't an issue for you and you can be more flexible for it.  Maybe you have a ten minute break time at work where you can sneak off and have a few minutes.  Think on it. Ponder.  I'm sure you can come up with SOMETHING.

Short on time?  Even 5 minutes for now is better than nothing.

Of course, the more time you spend with Him, the more mindful and aware of His ever presence you will be.  But sometimes the course of our lives don't allow that half hour or more in a day.  What can you do then?  Well last Lent I was experiencing just this.  A dear friend of mine, my Godmother actually, mentioned again the prayer soap she had.  A special bar of soap she had that when she used it, she would pray for someone.  So I took away our liquid soaps for the duration of Lent and replaced them with bars of soap.  They weren't all fancy, but because it was a bar, it made me remember.  And so when I washed my hands, I would pray for something....maybe for my Godmother or another person, but mostly I just used the Jesus Prayer as I was washing.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

It was a good habit all through Lent, and while I admit I don't ALWAYS think to do so now (and have returned to my liquid soaps), I do quite often find myself praying the Jesus prayer at this time.  It was a great way to be sure I was getting in at least SOME prayer time in my day.  So if you are really truly pressed for time, some sort of thing like this may be just what you need to get started.

What do YOU do to get in your prayer time?  I'm sure others would love some more tips!

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We can pray to God everywhere because God is everywhere: He is in our homes, in church, in our cars, at the grocery store...He is everywhere!
We can and should pray at all times. The Orthodox Church does have established prayers for all sorts of events  throughout the day.
I will share just a few of these:

Prayer For The Beginning of the Day

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray. And you, yourself, pray in me. Amen.

Prayer Before Lessons

(This is not one my family currently uses...but I am considering adding it to our Morning Prayers)

O Most Good Lord! Send down upon us the grace of they Holy Spirit, granting us understanding and the strengthening of our mental powers, that attending to the teaching given us, we may grow to the glory of Thee, our Creator, to the comfort of our parents, and to the benefit of the Church and our homeland.

Prayer Before Beginning All Work

(Another One I need to incorporate!)

Bless, O Lord!

Prayer Before Eating

The Eyes of all look to thee with Hope and Thou gavest them their food in due season. Thou openest thy hand and fillest every living thing with thy favor (taken from Ps. 144:16-17)

** Many Orthodox Christians use the Lord's Prayer before eating.

Evening Prayer

O Christ Our God who at all times and in every hour, in heaven and earth, are worshipped and glorified; who are long-suffering, merciful and compassionate; who loves the just and shows mercy upon the sinner; who calls all to salvation through the promise of blessings to come; O Lord, in this hour receive our supplications and direct our lives according to Your commandments. Sanctify our souls, hallow our bodies, correct our thoughts, cleanse our minds; deliver us from all tribulation, evil and distress. Encompass us with Your holy Angels that, guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of Your unapproachable glory, for You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen

The Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer is a short, simple prayer but contains the whole message of Christianity within it.  I could go on and on about the meaning and benefit of this simple prayer but I will save that for another post for the future.  For now, know this is a prayer that can be said anytime of day for any reason and can be said once or over and over....  Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

An important  goal to have is to work on prayer without ceasing.  

I found this explanation on Orthodox Church Quotes here at WordPress.  St. Peter of Damascus, reminding us of Paul's words,  tells us to be mindful of God at all times.  We must remember God in everything we do and in every circumstance.  How do we do that?  Praying throughout the day using the established prayers of the Orthodox Church is one way to do that or simply bowing your head in thanks.  But how, in this day and age, with all the business of our days, do we remember to pause and thank God and acknowledge Him in all things?  How do we not get pulled into the stresses around us and not just forget?  We must establish habits...  whether it be through visual reminders (laying the bible or prayer-book in an obvious place, posting a prayer on a notecard by the kitchen sink) or an audible reminder - setting your watch or phone alarm at various times through the day as a reminder to pause and pray, we must attempt to put our minds on God more than the things of this material world.  What do you do to attempt prayer without ceasing?

I have this plaque in my house as a reminder of my favorite prayer.

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It is a prayer I use quite often.  It brings me much peace.  Do you have a favorite prayer that brings you peace?

May you have a day full of prayer and peace.