I’ve heard numerous holy priests say that the *minimum *of prayer generally recommended to the laity by the saints and spiritual masters is 15 minutes a day, and not just recited prayers but mental prayer (meditation and praying in your own words).
In other words, saying grace before meals isn’t enough. Yes, part of the reason is that it’s wrong to neglect God, but it’s also necessary for our own spiritual health. St. Alphonsus teaches that without mental prayer, it is very hard to persevere in grace, and that therefore it is morally necessary for everyone (Great Means of Perfection, III, 1).
If you’re not sure how to fill the 15 minutes, the rosary counts as mental prayer, provided we do it correctly, because it contains not only recited prayers but also elements of meditation and using our own thoughts. It also has the advantage of conveniently focusing our attention on the major mysteries of our faith, so that we think and pray on the right things. And it takes about 15 minutes for 5 decades.
We all have days we don’t feel like praying and especially like meditating. At least I sure do. I remind myself of this truth while writing it to you – we don’t pray because it feels good, we pray because it is good and right; because we love God, and because we need it. Sometimes God rewards us with consolations, especially in the beginning of our journey, but as we grow, he may withdraw those comforts for a time, so that we learn to love him for his own sake.
It also helps to have a set time. First thing in the morning, or before you go to bed, or whenever works best for you.
May God grant us the grace to persevere in prayer!