Month: December 2016

The Arithmetic of Prayer

“New Year’s Eve Watch” – Copyright © 2016 Nexus Prayer International.

 

LEAPING INTO 2017

Christmas and gift giving are now behind us, but thanks to Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII¹ we will all be receiving a very special gift – the gift of time – this New Year’s Eve when on December 31, 2016 at precisely 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds everyone’s day and year will officially become one second longer. That’s because, as announced last July, a leap second² will be inserted at the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Master Clock Facility in Washington, DC.

So, how will you use your extra second of life? May I suggest prayer? Right before you pop the cork on your bottle of champagne, steal a New Year’s kiss, watch the Waterford crystal ball drop in New York City, or blow your party horn with a shout of “Happy New Year”, why not use your extra second to send up a little prayer to God?

NO TIME TO PRAY
Most people think of prayer in terms of minutes, rather than hours. Truth is, I often hear people say, “I don’t have one spare minute in my day for anything, let alone prayer.” Ironically, we can all find the time we need to eat, sleep, watch television, or attend a concert or sporting event, but we can’t find a single minute for prayer? Okay, for arguments sake, I’ll accept that. No doubt we’re all busy. But what if I could show you that it is possible to connect with God via prayer in no more time than it takes you to blink³ your eyes? If you don’t have a minute, can you spare a second? (If your answer is “no”, then you get an extra second tonight absolutely free, so no excuses!) “What”, you say? You can’t say a prayer in one second? Sure you can! In fact, I’m going to show you how you can say three prayers in only 1/60th of a minute. Just for fun, let’s do the math to show that a second is more than enough time to “upload” a prayer, or two, or three to God…

THE ARITHMETIC OF PRAYER
In a previous post, I mentioned that the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at USC has calculated that, on average, we humans have 70,000 thoughts per day. Now, we know that there are 86,000 seconds in a day, so if we take those 86,000 seconds God has given us and divide that number by the 70,000 thoughts most of us have in a day, we get one thought per every 1.234285714285714 seconds. BUT we can send God a thought (a prayer) in even less time than that! Scientists have shown that the blink of the human eye takes only 300 to 400 milliseconds. Since there’s 1,000 milliseconds in each second, that means a blink of an eye takes around 1/3 of a second, just enough time for three prayers in one second! But wait, there’s even more! Remember, God is not bound by our human limitations of time and space. For example, in I Corinthians 15:52 we read that the Lord will one day descend from heaven to resurrect “in the twinkling of an eye” all those who have believed in Him, and will do so in only eleven one-hundredths of a second³ – the amount of time it takes for light to enter and “bounce off” the back of the human eye. Now, that’s fast! Impressed? Then consider the fact that because God is omniscient and omnipresent, He is able to receive, process, and even answer our prayers in less than a nanosecond³ (one billionth of a second.)

A BLINK AND A PRAYER
So, are you ready to use that leap second for prayer tonight? Here’s how to do it. Prepare your prayer in advance, then associate a key word with your prayer. For example, just before the stroke of midnight tonight, and borrowing from Psalm 46:10 and nexus prayer, my prayer will be asking God to help me be still (let go) of all – the good, the bad, the ugly – of 2016 (the past), the present, and all of 2017 (the future). In other words, letting go of all of me, and letting God have all of me – my yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. With that prayer I have associated the word “Be”, so when I say (pray) the word “Be”, it contains all the intent and content of my specific prayer entirely. In this way, I can pray my prayer in the blink of an eye. Similarly, if I also want to pray for all the members of my family, I simply have to list all their names in advance and ask God’s blessing and protection for them in 2017, then associate the word “Fam” (family) with that prayer. And if I want to be really ambitious, I can also pray for my church – every single ministry, pastor, director, and volunteer. Like before, I simply enumerate them by name and associate the word “church” with it. Because our mind is faster than our mouth, at the appropriate time I can simply pray “Be, Fam, Church” – all three in one second – and by pushing the “send button” on the computer of my mind, upload in the blink of an eye my prayers to God. (Try it!)

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
Okay, time for a reality check from this tongue-in-cheek kind of post as I do have a serious point that I’m trying to make. Namely, we can all do better in 2017 in communicating with God, so why not place that New Year resolution at the top of our list? Praying in a second may be possible, but it’s not very practical or meaningful. One thing is certain. God gives us 24 hours every single day – in fact he’ll be giving us 365 more of them at the stroke of midnight tonight. Whether a second, five minutes, thirty minutes, or even an hour a day, why not join me in making more time for prayer your first resolution of 2017? Take a second to think about it. You’ll be glad you did.

Ready to begin? Nexus prayer can be done in as little as five minutes a day and The Steps are easy to learn. Questions? Feel free to contact me anytime!

NOTES & REFERENCES

1 The Gregorian Calendar replaced the Julian Calendar in October 1582 |Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

2 World timekeepers are adding a leap second on December 31, 2016 | via EarthSky

3 “How Long is a Blink of an Eye?” – William M. Briggs, Statistician to the Stars

4 A nanosecond (ns) is an SI unit of time equal to one billionth of a second. One nanosecond is to one second as one second is to 31.71 years. |Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

5 According to Jack Van Impe, an Evangelist and expert on Prophecy and the End Times.

6 Photo: “New Year’s Eve Watch” Allen Aaron White – Copyright © 2016 Nexus Prayer International.

God With Us

Nativity from Sherbrooke Missal (Modified) | Used with permission via Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication | Nexus Prayer International

EMMANUEL ~ GOD WITH US

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” – Matthew 1:22-23

Celebrating birthdays – at least my own – has never been very important to me. This despite the fact that along with Ludwig von Beethoven and a few other notable Sagittarians, I also share the anniversary of my birth with Catherine of Aragon, Jane Austen, Arthur C. Clarke, Margaret Mead, Zoltan Kodaly, Billy Gibbons, Leslie Stahl, Noel Coward, and my favorite abstract artist of all time, Wassily Kandinsky.

But, like the shepherds who were the first to discover the newborn King wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger on that first Christmas in Bethlehem, and just as countless Christians have done on every December 25th since around AD 200¹, there is one birthday I celebrate each and every year. I speak, of course, of the birthday of Jesus – the Wonderful Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace Isaiah 9:6 … our Emmanuel.

Putting aside for the purpose of this journal post the most well-known passage of the Christmas story found in Luke 2:1-20, it should not surprise anyone to learn that I discovered a nexus between the prophetic scripture of the coming Messiah in Isaiah 7:14, the fulfillment in Jesus Christ found in Matthew 1:22-23, and Psalm 46 – the foundation of nexus prayer. What follows are just a few of the highlights:

FIRST – Whether called Immanuel by the Jews or Emmanuel by the Gentiles, the birth of Jesus not only represents God with us – God incarnate, but is also the literal fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 (see also Matthew 1:22-23). As mentioned elsewhere on this site, you will recall that that the historical backdrop and context of Psalm 46 (and the point of the command to “be still” in Psalm 46:10) was the pending invasion of Jerusalem and annihilation of the Jews by the Assyrian King, Sennacherib – the very same event alluded to in the sign given to King Ahaz. Matthew Henry described it this way:

“Now the scripture that was fulfilled in the birth of Christ was that promise of a sign which God gave to King Ahaz Isa. 7:14,”Behold a virgin shall conceive…”; where the prophet, encouraging the people of God to hope for the promised deliverance from Sennacherib’s invasion, directs them to look forward to the Messiah, who was to come of the people of the Jews, and the house of David”²

SECOND – We find in Psalm 46:5 that God (Emmanuel) is with us when we read “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” And likewise, along with the refrain in verse 7, the final verse found at Psalm 46:11 speaks of God being with us when it says: “The Lord of hosts (Emmanuel) is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

THIRD – Just as the Angel exhorted both Joseph Matthew 1:20 and Mary Luke 1:30 to not be afraid, we are admonished by God along with the children of Israel in Psalm 46:2-3 “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea….“ ’though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” We are not to be afraid because God – our Emmanuel – is with us no matter the difficulties, challenges, and perils we face in life. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Daniel 3:20, God will be right there smack in the middle of all of the fiery furnaces of our life. Now, that’s being Godsmacked!

FINALLY – Although there are many other correlations to be found in Psalm 46:10 between the five key components of nexus prayer, Isaiah 7:14, and Matthew 1:22-23, I’ll end this post with one of the most valuable insights I discovered, this time, in Luke 2:19.

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

Like Mary, pregnant of the Holy Spirit, we discover through nexus prayer that our God – Emmanuel – is indeed “with us” each time we take the time to be still, be silent, and draw near to the heartbeat of God that we both hear and feel deeply embedded within our soul. The “still, small voice” I Kings 19:11-13 that we hear is the voice of God, first expressed as the cry of an infant King, but ultimately expressed as the living Word John 1:1.

So, by all means, please join me this year in celebrating Jesus’ birthday. But also during this season of Advent, amidst all the hustling and bustling, the shopping ‘til dropping, family gatherings, gift giving, and all the merry making, let’s not forget to give Jesus the most valuable gift of all – not gold, frankincense, or myrrh, but the gift of our time, the gift of our ourselves. Through nexus prayer, let’s lay not our presents, but our presence at the feet of Jesus. Only then can we truly know Him as Emmanuel – God with us.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

– Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861)

Ready to begin? Nexus prayer can be done in as little as five minutes a day and The Steps are easy to learn. Questions? Feel free to contact me anytime!

NOTES & REFERENCES:
1 Jesus is believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. His actual birth date of December 25th was calculated by Tertullian of Carthage around A.D. 200 | Bible History Daily

2 Most biblical historians (including Matthew Henry) believe both Isaiah 7 and Psalm 46 are making reference to the invasion and pending destruction of Jerusalem by King Sennacherib of Assyria. | Matthew Henry, Isaiah Chapter 7, Bible Study Tools

3 Photo: Nativity from Sherbrooke Missal (Modified) | Used with permission via Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

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