THE AFTERNOON PRAYER
Mincha is the afternoon prayer in place of the Korban Tamid, which was brought every afternoon during the time of the Bais Hamikdash. Mincha can be davened as early as 6 and a half hours after the day begins, or 30 minutes after midday (chatzos). This time changes during the year. When the days are short in the winter, the time is much earlier than it is during the summer. Mincha can be davened up until sunset. This is a choice time, because after that time the Korbonos, offerings of an individual, were not accepted in the Bais Hamikdash. If a person davens the late Mincha, then a half hour before it is time to daven, he should not eat. Before saying Mincha, a person should wash his hands. The prayer of Ashrei should not be said until there is a minyan. If he comes late and the Shemoneh Esrei has already begun, then he should daven with the minyan and say Ashrei afterwards. If it is close to night, then the Tachanun prayer should not be said. If a person is late, some say he may daven until sunset - while others say that he may daven until three stars come out. The reward is very great for the Mincha prayer, because in the morning a person knows he has to pray and at night he has time, but during the day when a person is busy with his job, it is very important to take time out and turn his heart to the One who gives us everything.