I was recently asked what advice on prayer I would give to a stay-at-home mom with several young children. This mom wants to have a healthy prayer life, but feels overwhelmed with all of her other responsibilities and doesn't know how to get started. Here's what I said.
1. Realize that you don't have a lot of time to pray. Many moms of young kids feel a constant sense of guilt that their prayer life doesn't measure up to the prayer lives of the older women in their church. While it's good to be challenged by the example of more mature believers you need to recognize that those women didn't always have as much time to pray as they do now.
God has called you to care for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of your kids. At this stage preparing meals, keeping up with house work, changing diapers, shepherding hearts, and maintaining your sanity will take up most of your time and that's OK. You ought to be busy with those things not locked away in a room praying for hours at a time.
2. Start small. Right now don't worry about getting to all of the things for which you ought to pray. Your goal is to develop a lifelong habit of consistent prayer. One of the most effective ways to build a habit that sticks is to start small. Begin by committing to pray for 1 minute everyday for a week. It may not seem like much, but in many cases a simple repeated act over a period of time leads to new lifelong patterns. Once the habit of daily prayer is firmly established you can begin extending the length of time you spend praying. Keep in mind my first piece of advice though.
3. Use the Lord's Prayer as a guide. So you've committed to pray each day. Now what do you pray about? Jesus gave his disciples a pattern of prayer to follow (see Matthew 6:9-13) that you can use as a guide for you own prayers. The first few times you pray just read the Lord's Prayer out loud. It's not a magic spell so the goal isn't merely to repeat the words. You want the priorities and concerns reflected in the Lord's Prayer to inform and give shape to your own prayers. Regularly reading and repeating the prayer helps you internalize it. After a while you'll find that your own prayers are much more substantial than when you first started.