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 second4 – 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 nanosecond4 (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 5 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 InternationalEMMANUEL ~ 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 5 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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Let Go, and Let God!

"Winter Road" © Copyright Erin Theisen Photography | Used with Permission | Nexus Prayer InternationalAlthough not explicitly stated in Psalm 46, there is an implicit promise that is made by God each and every time we pray through Psalm 46:10 using Nexus Prayer.

In essence, we learn from the metaphors used in Psalm 46 that whenever the storms and tsunamis of life come (and they will); when our enemies (or worse, THE enemy) attack us; when we are overwhelmed by our daily trials and tribulations; when the clamor, the tumult, and battles of life cause us to worry and fear; and like Job, even when we lose everything we hold dear – our family and friends, our wealth and health – it is then we are to remember as did Martin Luther1

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46: 1,7,11

 

But how does God perform His mightiest and miraculous work on our behalf? It is when we are still. Easier said than done, I know, but that is precisely the purpose and promise of Nexus Prayer, and why verse 10 is the pivotal verse of Psalm 46. It’s not what we do, but what God does. When we become still, our work ends and God’s work begins. Put another way using a very popular and often used expression, we are to “Let go, and let God!”

Not only do we see this principle at work in Psalm 46, but similarly in Exodus 14:13. You probably know the story well. The Jews, being led by Moses out of Egypt, were being pursued by Pharaoh’s army and wound up with their backs to the wall of the Red Sea with seemingly no way of escape. What was needed was Divine intervention. God’s solution? Run? Swim? Defend themselves by fighting back? No! God’s admonition to the children of Israel was to “Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” In other words, do the opposite of what would seem common sense in the middle of those frightening circumstances – don’t be afraid, drop everything, stand still, and watch God deliver them from all of their enemies.

The same concept can be found in Psalm 27:7 where we are instructed to “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” In other words, it is only by our patient waiting and resting in God that the Lord will ultimately deliver us from all evil and harm. We are not to worry, but rather wait. Not to work, but rest.

Finally, it was Jesus himself who promised in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

That promise that Jesus made to his disciples centuries ago is the same identical promise He makes to all of his followers today who are willing to be still through the praying of Psalm 46:10. For it is when we become still – still in body, soul, spirit, and mind – that we discover true inner peace. The kind of peace that “passes all understanding” and that can withstand any storm of life, but that God only provides when we are still in His presence. The stillness found through Nexus Prayer.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 

Ready to begin? Nexus Prayer can be done in as little as 5 minutes a day and The Steps are easy to learn. Questions? Feel free to contact me anytime!

NOTES & CREDITS:

1 It was Martin Luther who composed the classic hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (circa 1528), based on Psalm 46:1 and who sang it often whenever he felt overwhelmed by the persecutions and challenges of life.

2 “Winter Road” © 2016 Copyright Erin Theisen Photography | Used with Permission | Nexus Prayer International

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