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!