The first step and the true secret to finding time to pray lies in the answer to the question: “am I a rooster or an owl?”
For most Americans, life between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm is uncontrollable. Whether we commute to an office, stay at home with the kids, or have been retired for 10 years, the daylight hours are typically filled to capacity.
This gives us two primary options for an extended amount of prayer time: morning or evening. These two blocks of time are often “blank slates” and we typically have complete control over what happens. Sure we may have to take Jonny to his basketball game, eat dinner, and take out the garbage, but everyday we then choose what to do after the kids are in bed and all the chores are done. We can sit in front of the TV watching late-night television, play hours and hours of video games, or do a whole host of activities.
Now recreation and relaxing after a stressful day is not a bad thing. We need to relax and calm down and certainly should do some of the things that help us de-stress. The main point is that we have a choice what we do before we go to bed and when we wake-up and choosing to pray for 30 minutes should be a real possibility.
Rooster or Owl
Archbishop Fulton Sheen framed the situation this way,
At the beginning of my priesthood I would make the Holy Hour during the day or the evening. As the years mounted and I became busier, I made the Hour early in the morning, generally before Holy Mass. Priests, like everybody else, are divided into two classes: roosters and owls. Some work better in the morning, others at night. (Treasure in Clay)
We all know ourselves and wether or not we have the energy at night or early in the morning. Personally when my head hits the pillow at 9:30 pm, I am dead to the world. I have never been able to stay up much later than 10:00 pm. Almost every New Year’s Eve I spend seeing the ball drop in my dreams rather than on TV.
The morning, however, is a time that I enjoy. It is not always easy waking up at 5:00 am, but after the morning cup of coffee gets into my system, I have a lot of energy and spend the rest of my morning in prayer and then work on these articles before the kiddos wake-up. I have learned that with kids, once they wake-up, your entire day is spent.
Often if I end up sleeping in or the alarm wasn’t set right and I wake-up after the kids are awake, I never find time to sit-down and pray individually. The day is gone and I missed my opportunity.
Are you a rooster or an owl?
Action Item: Today, think about the answer to this question: what time of day am I most alert and able to control? Then, start to think about how you can change your plans to fit in at least 30 minutes of prayer. If that seems like too much to handle, start with 15 minutes. The important point is to start somewhere and then, do it!
~ Read more in the Prayer Series by Philip Kosloski: Putting on the Armor of God