The Where of Prayer

Plain House by Matt Palmer | Public Domain via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

THE WHERE OF PRAYER

Prayer – all types of prayer – both public and private are essential for the effectual Christian¹. But when and where is the best time to pray? The answer to that question speaks to the heart of nexus prayer, and is simple and obvious. Or is it?

In Ephesians 6:18, the Apostle Paul encourages us to “pray at all times and on every occasion.” Indeed, Paul comes right out and commands us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to actually “pray without ceasing.” Now, clearly, he was not speaking of a daily, incessant, on-our-knees, eyes-closed, and head-bowed type of praying, but rather of maintaining an attitude of prayer throughout the day. (Sometimes, we are not intended to take the bible quite so literally.) So, there’s no right time or bad time for prayer; we should pray at every opportunity. And lest we forget (with thanks to Rudyard Kipling), I’ve mentioned here many times that nexus prayer is intended to supplement, never replace other techniques and forms of prayer in the course of our weekly schedule and daily routine.

As to the where of prayer, I highly recommend finding a sacred space. But that said, although we should take the admonition Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:6 to pray in a certain way seriously, we should also not take this verse literally. In the 17th century English of King James, it reads:

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” In today’s vernacular, we would say it more like this: “But you, when you pray to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to God secretly, and your heavenly Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

In fact, many modern bible versions translate it in much the same way. But to be honest, the context and point that Jesus is making about prayer in his Sermon on the Mount² is not really about when or where we should pray, but how we should pray. Simply stated, he is teaching us that we should not pray in such a way that brings unnecessary attention to ourselves. If we do, then that’s our reward. Instead, Jesus is teaching that prayer is best done privately in our “inner room”– in the privacy of our own home, for example, rather than on a busy street corner where we can be seen by men.

But perhaps there is yet a deeper meaning also hidden in this teaching on prayer by Jesus. (He was, after all, speaking primarily to a group comprised largely of Jews, and did often teach with parables, riddles, and curious questions.) The likelihood that there is a mystical meaning embedded in Matthew 6:6 seems all the clearer to me when I read yet another passage from the Apostle Paul, this time in I Corinthians 3:16, and what I consider to be at the heart, the essence of nexus prayer.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

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Resolutionary Praying

RESOLUTIONARY PRAYING

When the brother of Jesus¹ wrote in James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”, perhaps he had in mind the rhetorical question, “Where does all the time go”? I find myself asking that same question about 2017 with a hot cup of tea and a warm bagel on this first cold January morning of 2018 – the first day of a new week of a new month and a new year.

Like most years, and as I mentioned in my post Praying Resolutely exactly one year ago today, I don’t make resolutions per se. Instead, each year around the time the first cold front arrives, and usually during my evening prayer walks, I begin conducting my personal and spiritual inventory of what I accomplished (or did not accomplish) in the previous year.

Now, don’t get me wrong, like most everyone else I do have a long list of personal, family, home, business, and even financial goals I’d like I need to accomplish this year, but I prefer having one larger all-encompassing resolution – a theme as it were – for my year. Last year it was to pray more. This year, though I doubt I’ll pray less, my main aspiration is to draw close – even closer – to God. Needless to say, I plan on accomplishing this through nexus prayer, which brings me back to James …

 

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…” – James 4:8

 

Just like Psalm 46:10 in the Old Testament, this short verse in the New Testament – another command with a promise – is pregnant with meaning. Simply put, if we desire to have more of God in our lives in 2018, then we only need to initiate our intention – through prayer – to be present to God and He will meet us there. Jesus referred to it as going to pray in our inner room (the subject of a future post), Matthew 6:6, and I know of no better way to connect with God there than through nexus prayer, but I’ll let my fifty-two journal posts this year (I plan on writing one a week, of which this is the first) explain how this may best be achieved.

I look forward to sharing these spiritual insights with you throughout 2018 right here on the Nexus Prayer website and through our local prayer group gatherings, but for now, I’ll close with arguably the most important lesson of Psalm 46:10 found in Step 4 of Nexus Prayer. Namely, being still or letting go. If you are like me, 2017 was filled with many blessings, achievements, and successes, as well as a few disappointments along the way. That said, last night during my prayer walk and after taking one more long good look in my mental rear-view mirror, I left the not-so-great parts of 2017 behind me, while carrying forward into the new year all the goodness of last year – the people, the experiences, the memories, lessons learned, and wisdom gained.

May all the blessings of Emmanuel – God with us – be yours not only today, the eighth day of Christmas and first day of the new year, but every day of 2018 as you draw closer to God through Nexus Prayer. Amen.

Now, just for fun, and thanks to Statistics Brain, here are the results for 2017s top ten resolutions in America.² And just in case you are one of those people who actually enjoy making New Year’s resolutions, how about this one? Resolve to join me in praying no less than a five minute Nexus Prayer 365 times (once each day) in 2018. I’ve made that commitment, and hope you’ll join me in adding more prayer in general, and more nexus prayer in particular to the top of your list! Happy New Year!

AMERICA’S TOP TEN NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2017

1 Lose Weight / Healthier Eating | 21.4%
2 Life / Self Improvements | 12.3%
3 Better Financial Decisions | 8.5%
4 Quit Smoking | 7.1%
5 Do more exciting things | 6.3%
6 Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends | 6.2%
7 Work out more often | 5.5%
8 Learn something new on my own | 5.3%
9 Do more good deeds for others | 5.2%
10 Find the love of my life | 4.3%

NOTES & REFERENCES

1 James the brother of Jesus | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia | There is disagreement about the exact relationship of James to Jesus. The presumed author of the Epistle of James is also sometimes identified with James, son of Alphaeus, James, son of Zebedee, and James the Less.

2 Top 10 Resolutions for 2017 | Statistic Brain Research Institute

3 Photo Credit: Happy New Year 2018 | By Nordwood Themes in Public Domain via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.