By some miracle, I've managed to get Janie and Walt to take a nap at the same time shortly after lunch everyday. If I play my cards right, I'm able to get about an hour of devotional time before one of them wakes up. I'm sure I'll have to move this time around as their schedules change, but it works for now.
If I were really disciplined, I'd wake up an hour before they do so that I'd be assured of this time. Well, I'm not that disciplined. Maybe I'll can pray for the grace to start waking up at 5:30 during Advent. I'll have to pray really, really hard... If you know me well, you know that I'd forfeit most of my possessions for a good nap.
Once the kiddos are asleep, I set up shop in the dining room. My great friend gave me a decorative box that I use to store by devotional materials. You can see the box on the sofa table in the background. I'm trying to de-clutter my life, so I made it a goal to create a spot to permanently keep my "prayer stuff."
Inside the box, I keep my prayer journal, the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament (absolutely awesome resource with complete footnotes. The Old Testament edition is likely due out this year!), a Catholic Study Bible (NAB), the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and my current devotional materials. Today, I started this study: Woman of Grace: A Bible Study for Married Women. I'm also reading a book Philip bought me called A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul by Lisa M. Hendey (Catholic Mom, author, and blogger on CatholicMom.com).
Are you looking for a study? I have to mention the study I finished last night through my parish called "Full of Grace: Women and the Abundant Life" by Johnette Benkovic. There is a supporting site as well. I highly recommend bringing this study to your parish. I'm not over-selling when I say that this study completely transformed my life. It's the invitation and encouragement I needed to give God the time He deserves. Not only is the study rich in content, but it's completely faithful to Church Teaching.
To make my prayer time more special, I make myself a cup of coffee with a yummy creamer, put Pandora on "Gregorian Chant Radio," light a candle, grab my "prayer stuff," and jump in.
Journaling helps to keep me focused on prayer instead of the dishes I have sitting in the kitchen sink. I like to use the ACTS model for structuring my prayer.
A = Adoration
C = Contrition
T = Thanksgiving
S = Supplication
I write for awhile until I'm ready to start reading my devotional material. I alternate between reading, taking notes, sitting in silence, and journaling. Journaling also helps me to see my spiritual growth and keep a record of answered prayers. Here's an example:
Last week, I was feeling frustrated and overwhelmed one day when I wasn't getting much accomplished in the way of my to-do list because the kids were demanding so much of my attention. I asked God to multiply my time like He multiplied the loaves of bread and fish. The next day I read over that entry to discover that I got everything accomplished on my to-do list and managed to make a great dinner.If I'm lucky, I end the time with a closing prayer before I hear one of the kiddos wake up. If not, having that time (even if it's just five minutes) never fails to re-energize and inspire me to get back to my vocation as a wife and mother.
I'm still a work in progress (if that isn't the understatement of the century...), but I finally feel like I've developed a routine with God, and I miss my special time with Him when I don't get it. Maybe someday I'll have a deep enough relationship with God that I can just sit in complete silence and listen to Him for an hour. I have a lot of work to do before that would ever be possible. For now, I'm okay with depending on my prayer training wheels of journaling and reading.
Do you have a prayer routine? What does it look like?