Being Still – Rx for the Body and Soul
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26
First, there was Halloween, followed by All Saints Day, All Souls Day, then last Sunday night’s beautiful Requiem Eucharist at Saint Dunstan’s. Then all hell broke loose, and it was all downhill from there.
That’s because for the better part of six days (and counting) I’m weary from wrestling with some mysterious influenza bug of unknown origin that’s gotten the best of me and kept me bed-ridden most of the time. Sick as a dog and really too weak to do much else, you’d think it would be a perfect time to spend more time in nexus prayer. That’s what I thought, too, but that’s not exactly how it has worked out for me. But I digress.
The scripture I cited from Romans at the top of this page has come to mind many times this week as I’ve struggled to maintain my normal, daily nexus prayer regimen. I realized that was easier said than done when, on day one of my solitary confinement, I set my alarm for my usual 4:54 am wake-up call, began my customary 30-minute nexus prayer, and did not realize until some ninety minutes later than I had fallen asleep and never even got past step one! It’s remarkable how the mind wanders and how, when either deprived of sleep or over-medicated, a simple five-minute nexus prayer can take almost an hour to complete. But despite the challenges, I’ve been able to glean some valuable spiritual insights from my bedroom-turned laboratory and this urban monk-turned guinea pig. In no particular order, then, here are a few lessons for us all, but especially for me:
“Let go, and LET GOD do the heavy lifting.”
Lesson 1 – In times of trouble, distress, and illness follow Martin Luther’s example of turning to the God of Psalm 46 for comfort. As we know today, Luther loved this psalm so much he set it to music as “A Mighty Fortress is our God”.¹ He both recited and sang Psalm 46 quite often, especially when he was under heavy persecution. It begins: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 Are you overwhelmed with your present circumstances, including illness? God is your refuge and strength! Run to Him.
Lesson 2 – Embrace the 5. Having spent more than two years of practicing nexus prayer, I can tell you that the 5-minute prayer interval is the Rodney Dangerfield of prayer. It gets no respect. The biggest mistake beginners to nexus prayer encounter is underestimating the value of simply spending five minutes with God. All too often, newbies to the prayer practice attempt the 20, 30, even 60-minute intervals all too soon, or attempt praying for five minutes, but do so something like twenty times a day. Also, not a good idea. Indeed, since first launching Nexus Prayer in 2015, I have logged more than 3,400 prayer sessions for a total duration of about 547 hours. That’s praying nexus prayer – connecting to God daily – more than 500 hours with most of those sessions coming in 5-minute intervals. And being bed-ridden this past week – the sickest I can recall ever being in my life – I discovered more than ever that the five-minute nexus prayer is my friend.
Lesson 3 – Be realistic. Do not strive for perfection. God neither demands nor desires perfection from us in our prayer time, just our intention. The mind wanders. Accept this fact. External noises and internal distractions, memories, thoughts, etc.… while we are praying are ever-present. Let them go. We get tired and sometimes fall asleep while praying. It’s okay! It’s not about how many minutes we pray a day, but our simple intention to just “be” and spend any amount of time with God. The closest human bond is probably that of a mother and her child. What mother does not love for her baby to fall asleep in her arms as she lovingly caresses, cradles, and whispers in a still, small voice words of love? Do we think God – our Abba Father – cares for us any less when we drift asleep in those moments we draw near to Him through nexus prayer?
Lesson 4 – Praying Psalm 46:10 is full of obstacles – especially when we are sick. As mentioned previously, the mind wanders; our spirit is willing, but our body is weak Matthew 26:41. Our symptoms and nagging pain, even with the common cold or flu, can be a major distraction, how much more serious health issues such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, or heart problems to name just a few. Big or small, God can handle them all.
Lesson 5 – Let God do the heavy lifting. Praying when it is the hardest for us to do so is the most important time for us to pray. Just be still and let God do the heavy lifting. God knows what we need before we can even ask or think. Remember the verse at the beginning of this post? “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26 Sometimes, we are simply unable to pray. No words. No strength. Perfect! Just where God wants us.
Finally, at the time of this writing, several members of our Sunday morning nexus prayer circle are either in bed sick, recuperating from surgery, or remain in the hospital. Although they can’t be with us physically, I’ve joined them virtually throughout the week via synchronized prayer², and I’ve encouraged them to connect with God and me every chance they get. I never tire of hearing or sharing with them the comforting words of Matthew 18:20.
Although my personal physical battles with sickness this week presented significant challenges for me, they are simply mosquito bites compared to those who suffer each and every day from serious and chronic illness. This has both raised my awareness and increased my compassion for those suffering from debilitating physical and mental injuries and disease. How can I – we – best share nexus prayer with them so that they, too, can benefit from hearing God’s still, small voice and experience Christ’s suffering love for them? I don’t know the answer yet, but I’m more compelled than ever to discover how. God will show the Way…through nexus prayer.
NOTES & REFERENCES
1 “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”| Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia
2 Synchronized Prayer | NexusPrayer.org