Be Still … in the Storm

Hurricane_over_Yemen_NASA_ModifiedNXPPhotograph_PublicDomain_viaUnsplashBE STILL … IN THE STORM

Editor’s Note:
This post was originally written January 27, 2017 – eight months ago. As I write these words, literally at this moment 9:12 p.m. on August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane will be making landfall at Corpus Christi & Rockport, TX within the hour.  As I pause for prayer for all those who will be effected by this storm – the Body of Christ – including residents of Houston over the course of the next seven days, I thought it timely to remind all of us who experience storms of all kinds in our lives that Jesus is in the boat with us. – aaw

Update: August 27, 2017 – Now a tropical storm, “Harvey” is currently hovering over Houston where, in its first full day, has dumped as much as 20 inches of rain in some parts of Houston, with 10 to 15 inches more anticipated in the next several days.  A meteorologist at The National Weather Service has declared Houston’s weather as catastrophic, unprecedented, and of epic proportions – the worst flooding in Houston history,  and the worst storm since Hurricane Carla hit Galveston/Houston in 1961. We now return you to your regular programming …. aaw

BE STILL … IN THE STORM

If you’ve ever been through one of the four T’s: tsunami, typhoon, tidal wave, or tornado, then you know the devastating damage these storms can cause to the four P’s: people, pets, plants, and property.

The single best example here on the Gulf Coast of Texas is the infamous Great Galveston Hurricane that hit September 8, 1900, and left up to 12,000 people dead. It remains to the present day the deadliest single day event in US history.1 And although I was only eight years old at the time, I still remember my Momo (grandmother) rushing us to the “safe area” of the laundry room as the Level 5 Hurricane Carla hit Galveston and threatened Houston in 1961, as well as countless other storms throughout the years, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that hit the Gulf Coast within weeks of each other in 2005.

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

 

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt (1633) | Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.Like the disciples in a boat on a stormy lake Mark 4:35-41, we all sail through storms at some point in our lives. And I’m not just talking about the weather.

Whether your heart is literally failing or someone has broken your heart, sooner or later we are all touched by the storms of sickness and shattered dreams. Don’t be afraid!

When your personal bank account is at an all-time low, while your bills are at an all-time high, don’t lose hope! The tropical depression of finance rains on us all, but will eventually leave us a rainbow (even if not with the proverbial pot of gold at the end of it!) when the Son shines through. Matthew 5:45

And when you’ve unexpectedly lost a loved one or even when, as a thief in the night and through no fault of your own, the people in power take away your job, your health insurance, and your retirement benefits – all in one fell swoop – you can still, like Job, trust in God. Job 5:19 He may allow the hurricane force winds of life to bend you, but never to break you.

Truth be known, life is hard and man will fail you. Businesses may fail. Health may fail. Relationships may fail. Marriages may fail. But, Jesus never fails! And like the disciples who were afraid of the crashing waves, the deep waters, and their sinking circumstances, we only have to cry out to God for help and He will rescue us. Jesus is in the boat!

Even in your deepest, darkest, foggiest moments when it seems that all the walls of your world are caving in and falling down upon you, do not be afraid! For despite all your fears and flash floods of emotions, you can take solace in the fact that you are not traveling through the ominous-looking clouds, the veil of tears, a wall of water, or the valley of the shadow of death alone. Psalm 23:1-6 Indeed, although the winds of change may be rocking your boat, know this: Jesus is in the boat with you and He has the power to command all the hurricane force winds and tidal waves of your life to be perfectly still.

Martin Luther experienced more than his fair share of “donner und blitz” in his life, but thanks be to God, he passed through all his storms both safely and soundly. God’s reward to the world for Luther’s faith, hope, vision, and courage? The Reformation.2 Martin Luther’s trials and tribulations may be different from most of ours, but it was his particular and personal storms, inspired by Psalm 46, that led him to compose the classic hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” 3

The eye of Super Typhoon Maysak from the ISS | NASA Photograph in Public Domain via Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia.Finally, while speaking both metaphorically and meteorologically here, it is worth noting that although the size of the average hurricane can span 100 miles in diameter with winds exceeding 100 miles per hour, the absolute center of the storm, the eye, is almost always relatively clear and calm. How ironic it is that at the core of arguably the strongest force on earth, God gave us the perfect and scientifically proven example from nature of how he invites us to remain calm in the midst of the storms in our life.  Obviously, God understood this fact clearly when he commanded all to “Be still, and know that I am God” in Psalm 46:10.

Just as the eye of a hurricane is the coolest, calmest, and most collected part of the storm,our “safe room” is to be found at the center of God’s will and presence. And for any of us fearful of our life boat capsizing as it takes on water navigating the tropical storms of life, I know of no place that offers greater comfort or safety than when we enter our prayer closet Matthew 6:6 and find the quietude of God through Nexus Prayer waiting for us there.

Be still, and know that I am God.”– Psalm 46:10

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” – Psalm 46:1-3

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. – Psalm 46:10

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 Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

2 The Protestant Reformation | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

3 “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther | The Hymn Society – Hymnary.org

4 The Eye of a Cyclone | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

5 Photo Credit: Hurricane over Yemen | NASA Photograph in Public Domain via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

6 Photo Credit:“The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt (1633) | Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

7 Photo Credit: The eye of Super Typhoon Maysak from the ISS | NASA Photograph in Public Domain via Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia.

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HAPPY BIRTHIVERSARY!

Photo Credit: Birthday Cake | Public Domain Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.


As you know from my journal post God With Us last December 25th, when it comes to celebrating birthdays – at least my own – less is more. I simply don’t like the attention and fuss. However, today is different. That’s because today, August 25, 2017, Nexus Prayer celebrates two special events: an anniversary and a birthday.

Happy Birthiversary Nexus Prayer!”

First, it’s a special day because it was exactly two years ago today that I began my daily, intensive, one-year of research and study of Psalm 46 – with special attention given to verse 10. Hard to believe two years have passed. What a special, rewarding, and wonder-filled journey these past 48 months have been for me. But secondly, this day is also special because it’s not just an anniversary, but also a birthday as Nexus Prayer’s ministry and website turn one-year old today.

Celebration is in order! And what better way to celebrate than by taking this opportunity to announce that beginning Sunday, September 10, 2017 Nexus Prayer will be offered at least twice a week – Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons – at Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

Photo Credit: Canterbury Chapel | Copyright © 2017 Allen Aaron White | Nexus Prayer International
Canterbury Chapel | Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Houston

 

SUNDAY | 10:15 a.m. | Bentley Education Center | Room 315
Meeting every Sunday between worship services, our prayer group will gather for fellowship, a brief lesson from Psalm 46, a 10 minutes Nexus Prayer, and an optional Q&A session. The class is conveniently scheduled immediately after the 9:00, and right before the 11:00 worship services. Although attendance is not required, I encourage you to arrive early or remain after the Nexus Prayer gathering to attend the worship service that works best for your schedule.

THURSDAY | 12:30 p.m. | Canterbury Chapel
Immediately following the Holy Eucharist Service that meets every Thursday at noon in the Canterbury Chapel, all are invited to remain an additional 15-30 minutes for Nexus Prayer. Our actual prayer session follows a brief welcome and quick overview of the Five Steps of Nexus Prayer. The Canterbury Chapel (I consider it a sacred space) is both a beautiful and inspiring setting to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

So, Happy Birthiversary Nexus Prayer! Thank you for reading this post and celebrating this moment in time with me, but don’t just take my word for it. Why not come visit and experience Nexus Prayer for yourself? Our meetings are informal, free, and welcoming of all.

Attend once, or join us every week, but please come join us anytime you are able. Scheduling conflicts? No problem! Nexus Prayer can be done anywhere 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 Photo Credit: Birthday Cake | Public Domain Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

2 Photo Credit: Canterbury Chapel | Copyright © 2017 Allen Aaron White | Nexus Prayer International.

Solar Powered Prayer

 Photo Credit: 2017 Solar Eclipse | Public domain photo by Photo by laura skinner on Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

 

SOLAR POWERED PRAYER

If Nexus Prayer is a part of your daily personal routine (and I hope that it is), then today, August 21, 2017, is a day when you definitely don’t want to skip your prayer practice. That’s because today is the first time in 99 years that a total solar eclipse will sweep the whole width of the United States. This celestial nexus, when the moon’s shadow falls on the Earth as it passes between us and the sun, has been dubbed The Great American Solar Eclipse1 and begins this morning (as I type this) precisely at 9:05 a.m. PDT near Lincoln City, Oregon and ends later this afternoon near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT. (If you live in the greater Houston area, the celestial light show begins at 11:46 a.m. CST.)

In ancient Roman culture, Sunday was the day of the Sun god. In paganism, the sun was a source of life, giving warmth and illumination to mankind. And On 7 March 321, Constantine I, Rome’s first Christian Emperor, decreed that Sunday would be observed as the Roman day of rest not only for Christians, but everyone living within the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire.2 Of course, Christians today recognize Sunday as Sonday – the Lord’s Day – when we gather to worship not the sun, but the Son. John 20:1-2, Acts 20:7, Revelation 1:10, Mark 16:2 Nevertheless, “Sun worshipers” still exist today as evidenced by all those sun bathers who hit the beaches between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but no more so than today when it is estimated that more than 300 million people in the United States will look heavenward for a chance to see the sun eclipsed for about 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Man Gaze | Public domain photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.Like almost everyone else on the planet today, I’m fascinated with this celestial phenomenon and will be outside with the hope of witnessing our day turn to night then back to day again before watching much of the news coverage of the event, especially NASA’s Live Webcast.

But rather than just gazing upward for a few minutes at a 10,000 ° fahrenheit ball of fire,  it will not surprise any of you to learn that during the actual eclipse occurring here today in Houston, my upward gaze and primary focus will be on the Son, not the Sun, as I include a five minute Nexus Prayer in my viewing plans. After all, the sun may be 93 million miles from Earth, but we’re no more than a blink of an eye – a nanosecond – away from God through Nexus Prayer. And although we will have to wait another seven years before we can experience a similar solar event, we have the amazing ability to look upward every single day, connect with the Creator of the universe (including the sun), and through Nexus Prayer simply be still and know that He is God. Psalm 46:10

So, as the moon moves between the earth and the sun today, I pray that you will not let anything come between you and the Son today. Did you miss today’s solar eclipse? No worries. God has scheduled another for you to observe on April 8, 2024, when America’s next total eclipse will travel a diagonal path from Texas to Maine.

Meanwhile, you can connect to the Son – Creator of the sun Genesis 1:1-5 – anytime of the day or night. 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 & CREDITS

1 The Great American Solar Eclipse | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

2 Sunday | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

3 Graphic Credit: Eclipse Across America  | Public domain NASA Graphic used with permission via NASA.gov

4 Photo Credit: Man Gaze | Public domain photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

5 Photo Credit: 2017 Solar Eclipse | Public domain photo by Photo by laura skinner on Unsplash| Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

Milestones of Prayer

Photo Credit: Track & Field | Public Domain Photo by Stephen Di Donato on Unsplashed | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

Milestones of Prayer

Next week marks two new milestones for Nexus Prayer. First, it marks two years since I first began my intensive research and study of Psalm 46, and secondly, it marks Nexus Prayer’s 1st birthday celebration! As you’ll discover below, “milestone” takes on special meaning for me as I share my thoughts and news today about a few of the next steps in the works for Nexus Prayer.

Running the Race
When I was a student at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, Jim Ryan1 was my hero. That’s because at that time Ryan was best known as the first high school track athlete to break four minutes in the mile, and because as a member of Blair’s track and cross-country team, I, too, was a miler. But that’s where the comparison ends. The only thing Ryan and I had in common was a passion for running the mile, measured at the time as four laps around a track of 440 yards. And although I did hold the record for the fastest mile ever run at my high school (4:27), and showed enough potential at the time to be invited to attend and run for Brown University, I was no world-class athlete. Interestingly, in both I Corinthians 9:24 and II Timothy 4:7, the Apostle Paul compares the Christian life to running a race. Looking back, God’s plan for my life was quite different from the Olympic day dreams of my own, as God took away my running shoes and put me on a new course and different kind of track at Tennessee Temple to study bible and theology. Today, my competitive running has long since been replaced with long-distance prayer walking, but I’m stilling running a race nonetheless – a race for God, a race for prayer, and a race against time.

Since beginning my study of Psalm 46:10 back in 2015, and stepping out on this journey with God called Nexus Prayer a year later, I’ve travelled – spiritually speaking – many a mile. Along the way make that The Way, I’ve met some fascinating people, made some new friends, found a new church home, and gained some profound insights not only about God and prayer, but history, the Scriptures, human nature, people, and especially myself. What a fascinating journey! Today, and especially as Nexus Prayer anniversaries next week, I feel God calling me to delve even deeper into Psalm 46 and to take a longer view for Nexus Prayer. But, what does that mean precisely? Several things…

PRAY MORE | 440 = 4:40
My sustained daily study and prayer practice of Nexus Prayer have been ongoing for two years now. I’ve been averaging an hour a day for Nexus Prayer (not counting other types of prayer) beginning at 5:15 each morning with my local prayer partner in synchronized prayer (same time, different locations.) But I desire even more, so I’m moving my personal prayer time for Nexus Prayer to commence every morning at 4:40am. (Fitting for an ex-quarter-miler and runner, don’t you think?) Additionally, what began as occasional prayer walks last Fall for both my neighborhood and local community, are now a routine part of my nightly prayer regimen. (It’s all your fault, Randy Sprinkle!2)

PRAY WITH OTHERS
I’m both excited and humbled to announce that approval has just been granted to begin regular weekly classes and prayer groups for Nexus Prayer starting next month at Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. (Thank you, Fr. Rob and Fr. Randall!) This is not only a very special opportunity, but a sacred responsibility and specific answer to prayer. And as you see me mention often here, this is no normal coincidence, but a God-incident that a “permanent home” for Nexus Prayer coincides with its first anniversary! Preparation is currently being made and details regarding meeting rooms and times will be announced here on this site soon.
 

PRAYER PRESENTATIONS
My Fall calendar is starting to fill up with weekly opportunities to share Nexus Prayer with various local groups and organizations. Seeds that have been planted for the last two years are now budding seedlings. Please pray that these young, tender plants will continue to grow into healthy and strong trees in God’s kingdom as new opportunities for Nexus Prayer rise up locally.

 Photo Credit: Runner | Public Domain Photo by Dev Dodia on Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.What started as a crawl, then baby steps, then a walk, jog, and one mile run for me turns out to be a marathon of prayer. A two-year marathon where I just crossed the finish line, right? Not hardly. Despite all I’ve experienced, learned, and accomplished these past two years, what I realize today is that my marathon journey with Nexus Prayer has not been a journey at all, but a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage that had a beginning, but has no end. What I’ve learned is that no matter how hard I try or how deep I delve into Psalm 46, the truths to be gleaned from God’s word and the lessons to be learned simply cannot be exhausted. So, ever the student and never the teacher, I’m more excited than ever to be on what John Bunyan would refer to as my pilgrim’s progress3, and to discover all that God has planned for me along the way.

Ready to join me in the race? 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 Jim Ryan | Wikipedia– the free Encyclopedia

2 Randy Sprinkle | Follow Me: Lessons for Becoming a Prayerwalker. New Hope Publishers, 2001.

3 John Bunyan |The Pilgrim’s Progress | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

4 Photo Credit: Track & Field | Public Domain Photo by Stephen Di Donato on Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

5 Photo Credit: Runner | Public Domain Photo by Dev Dodia on Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

Praying Like Napoleon

Photo Credit: Pig by Fabian Blank | Photo in Public Domain via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

 

Those familiar with Animal Farm¹, George Orwell’s allegorical novella published in 1945, will recall that after the barnyard revolution when all the farm animals overthrow the humans on Manor Farm, the pigs, led by Napoleon (the conniving Berkshire boar), issue the Seven Commandments of Animalism for all the animals to live by. These Seven Commandments were summarized by the Seventh and greatest commandment: “All animals are created equal.” Orwell’s classic short story on the rise of the Soviet Union and the dangers of Communism reaches its dolent climax when, at the end, all the commandments are eliminated, except the Seventh…with one small, but important modification: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

I recently recalled this now famous quote from Animal Farm when I had just completed a Nexus Prayer session. That’s because from the very conception of Nexus Prayer, I have always thought of and treated the key words of Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God” – the Five Steps of Nexus Prayer – as all equal. Or so I thought. Today I realize I’ve treated some of those words more equal than others since, from the beginning, I’ve given preferential treatment to the words “Still” and “Be”, as will be discussed.

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” – Napoleon

 

ALL WORDS ARE EQUAL
The obvious place to begin my study of Psalm 46:10 back in the summer of 2015 was with the word “Still”, since it is usually that solitary word in verse ten that is beloved by most, truly understood by a few, and assailed by many. “Be” received my attention next, followed by “God”, “I am”, and finally “Know”. However, as already mentioned, the two words or phrases that always dominated my thoughts and prayers were the climax of Nexus Prayer: “Be still” (harpu in the original Hebrew) and “Be.” The first being the place in Nexus Prayer where we drop everything, let everything in our life go (let go) by uploading our problems, sins, concerns, worries to God, and the second, by simply “being” with God, allowing God the Holy Spirit to download directly into our spirit precisely what each of us may need on any given day or time in our lives.

Cows © 2017 Copyright by Erin Theisen Photography | Used with permission. | Nexus Prayer International.

ALL WORDS ARE EQUAL…NOT!
All of that changed several days ago during my customary morning prayer when my attention was especially drawn to Step 3 (Know) of Nexus Prayer. This is most likely due to conversations I’ve had recently with a close friend and prayer partner regarding God’s innate nature – another four-letter word (LOVE), and especially spiritual insights I’ve gained from reading Love, Imperfectly Known by Brother Emmanuel of Taize. Brother Emmanuel reminds us that “…the love of a father, mother, husband, wife, brother, sister, and friend become possible analogies and even indirect reflections here below of a Divine love that is even greater than human beings dare to believe.”2

When I was an agnostic, I tried to know God with my head. After choosing to become a Christian, a follower of Christ, I began to know God with my heart (soul). Today, and especially thanks to Nexus Prayer, I know God with all my body, mind, and spirit. Indeed, Scripture’s simplest “definition” or description of God is found in I John 4:7,8 “…God is love.” I plan on writing a post soon that fully examines this vitally important word “Know” that is strategically embedded in Psalm 46:10 and halfway through the Nexus Prayer cycle, but for now, and in a very real way, suffice it say that when you get to this stage of Nexus Prayer you may feel free with full confidence to exchange the word “know” for “love.” It follows naturally from the previous step: I am …loved. Just as we are letting go to God all our human problems and emotional baggage in Step 4 (Be Still), and allowing God to download His Spirit into our spirit in Step 5 (Be), we can just as easily visualize God placing Her3 loving arms around us and holding us close to Her divine heart in Step 3 (Know). When we reach this third step of Nexus Prayer it is as though we are hugging God and He is hugging us back.

Arguably, of course, when one considers the first word “God”, and the second word(s) “I AM”,  I have to concede there can be no stronger or more powerful beginning to Psalm 46:10. I’ve now used Nexus Prayer on average no less than three times daily for the last two years, and although in my heart of hearts I still believe these five key words of scripture to each be equal in depth of meaning, significance, and power, I must admit that when it comes to Psalm 46:10 Napoleon was right… “all words are equal but some words are more equal than others.” Or are they? God only knows.

Ready to pray? Why not join me? 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 Animal Farm by George Orwell | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

2 Love, Imperfectly Known by Brother Emmanuel of Taize.| p131, Continuum (2011) / Amazon

3 He/She. Truth is, God is a Spirit. John 4:24 “He” simply cannot be adequately described by the limited anthropomorphic labels we assign to God. We understand today that males and females both have feminine and masculine sides to their psyche and personality, and that God created us (male and female) in His image, so why should it surprise us to learn that God’s attributes include both masculine and feminine qualities? This subject is expertly explored by Brother Emmanuel of Taize’ in his book, Love, Imperfectly Known – Beyond Spontaneous Representations of God (Continuum, 2011, see above.)

4 Photo Credit: Pig by Fabian Blank | Photo in Public Domain via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

6 Photo Credit: Cows © 2017 Copyright by Erin Theisen Photography | Used with permission. | Nexus Prayer International.

Sacred Spaces: Canterbury Chapel

Canterbury Chapel | Saint Dunstan's Episcopal Church | Copyright 2017 © Nexus Prayer International
Canterbury Chapel | Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Houston

SACRED SPACES SERIES

Canterbury Chapel | Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church
14301 Stuebner Airline • Houston, Texas 77069 • (281) 440-1600 • SaintDunstans.org

 

Given the opportunity to pray in the 800 year old Trinity Chapel of England’s Canterbury Cathedral, you would no doubt take me up on the offer. (You can actually do that you know?) But if you live in the Greater Houston area, you need only trek to the Canterbury Chapel located within Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church. Offering a communion service every Thursday at noon and a Eucharistic service known as “Simple Meal” held most Sunday evenings at 5:00 p.m., this lovely little chapel is located near 1960 on Stuebner Airline Road in northwest Houston.

Canterbury Chapel | Saint Dunstan's Episcopal Church | Copyright 2017 © Nexus Prayer International
Jesus Window | Canterbury Chapel

Although the Canterbury Chapel is not generally open to the public during weekdays, I have found that if you arrive a little early or stay a little late you can “steal” time for private prayer both before and after all services. Of special note is that during all regularly scheduled Sunday A.M. worship services of the church, the chapel is staffed by individuals during and after communion that are especially trained to offer prayers for intercession, healing, and thanksgiving.

Dedicated in 1995, and able to accommodate about 25 persons, this intimate chapel is appointed with inspirational furnishings, religious art, icons, prayer candles, and even its own columbarium! Behind the altar are two gorgeous stain glass windows – one depicting Christ and the other Saint Dunstan (c 909-988; Archbishop of Canterbury.)

Canterbury Chapel | Saint Dunstan's Episcopal Church | Copyright 2017 © Nexus Prayer International
Canterbury Chapel, Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Houston

I may indeed one day be fortunate enough to pray in one of the many chapels located within the sacred walls of Canterbury Cathedral. But until then, I am perfectly content attending the inspired weekly services and praying Nexus Prayer every chance I get in the lovely Canterbury Chapel located in Houston’s own backyard.

Why not join me? 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.

Sacred Spaces: Chapels

First, a personal note: For some time now, I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts about praying in sacred spaces, also known as hierotopies.¹ And since I recently commissioned a drawing of one of my all-time favorite places to pray, Phillips Chapel, this seems as good a time as any to at least introduce the subject. So, beginning with “Chapels”, today I’m launching the sacred spaces page of this website. Hopefully, sooner than later this section will be full of local, state, national, and even international places of prayer for you to consider visiting…and praying. Meanwhile, I invite you to learn more about sacred spaces through the excellent interview with author, art critic, and philanthropist Roberta Green Ahmanson, “What is Sacred Space”. ²  – aaw

Phillips Chapel illustration commissioned for Nexus Prayer International | Copyright © 2017 Rev. Allen Aaron White | Nexus Prayer International SACRED SPACES: CHAPELS

There is no wrong time, wrong reason, or wrong place to pray. Indeed, we are encouraged by the Apostle Paul to pray without ceasing for everything, everyone, and everywhere I Thessalonians 5:17, I Timothy 2:1-8. In a very real way then, any place, every place, can be considered a sacred space since anywhere God is present (which is everywhere) is holy ground.

I strive for this noble ideal – praying without ceasing – daily through my morning, noon, and evening prayers; throughout the day as I run my errands around town and go about the work of my prayer ministry and business at hand; my evening prayer walks for our neighborhood and local community; at weekly church services; and, of course, my daily Nexus Prayer. So, when it comes to heeding Paul’s admonition to pray everywhere, I do a pretty good job with portable praying. However, although praying on-the-go is a good thing, if you are like me, sometimes you just need to “get away from it all,” to be still and alone with God. For example, even though Jesus was “always about his Father’s business” Luke 2:49 He frequently removed himself from the people, problems, and public places of his daily life and ministry to pray in a secluded place Mark 1:35. Is there a lesson from Jesus’ example for us today? I think so.

With all the above in mind, I could wax poetic here about all the wonderful places to pray – both indoors and out. But for me, if praying at church or within a cathedral is good, then spending time communing with God in the sacred space of a chapel is great and one of my favorite places to pray. And when I’m able to pray alone in one of these sanctuaries of solitude, then that’s just a bonus gift from God.

By Will Eisner (pencils) and Lou Fine (inks), uploaded by Roygbiv666 (Public Domain Super Heroes) [Public domain, GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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CAPE? CHAPLAIN? CHAPEL!

Now, when I say “chapel”, probably the last thing that comes to your mind is a cape like the ones worn by superheroes or religious such as the one worn by Saint Martin of Tours,³ but that is precisely where the word chapel, along with chaplain, from the Latin originates. Instead, the chapel that most likely comes first to your mind is the one made famous by Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement” painted on its ceiling or by the white smoke that comes out of its chimney every time a new pope is chosen. I speak, of course, of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

The kind of chapels I’m talking about though, and am most fond of, may not be as famous, but are no less beautiful. At least in my mind. Not counting the fifty or so wedding chapels found in Las Vegas, chapels designed for worship and prayer may be found in almost every major city or small town in America. Usually tucked away in places most of us would never think of looking, these sacred spaces are typically small, intimate places that are often, but not always filled with beautiful religious art designed to draw us closer to God. I’ve prayed in many chapels over the years; here is one of my favorites – the humble beginning of the sacred spaces page on this site dedicated to the local, state, national, and international sacred spaces for all of us to discover…and pray.

Phillips Chapel illustration commissioned for Nexus Prayer International | Copyright © 2017 Rev. Allen Aaron White | Nexus Prayer International PHILLIPS CHAPEL
1906 Bailey Avenue • Chattanooga, TN 37404

Of all the buildings on the campus of Tennessee Temple University, Phillips Chapel³ is the one I most fondly recall as a sacred space and feel the strongest connection to. Built in 1922, Phillips Chapel was the first permanent church building of Highland Park Baptist Church when Dr. J. B. Phillips was its pastor. By the time I arrived as a student in the ‘70s, not only was it being used for lectures, fine art performances, chapel services, and special meetings, but also for prayer.

But the chapel, as lovely as it was with its stained glass windows, bell tower, and arched Gothic architecture, the part of the building that was the most precious to me was the prayer room. It was certainly not the décor of this simple, unadorned, all-too-common room, but the spiritual activity of the room that made it sacred to me. Every day and night countless students like myself would enter the room, kneel at the prayer bench, read all the prayer requests recorded in a notebook, then close our eyes and open our hearts to God in prayer. Available around the clock seven days a week, I spent many an hour on my knees in that “upper room “ (that’s it in the first window next to the arbor on the building attached to the west side of the chapel.)

Unfortunately, Phillips Chapel is no longer open to the public, but I include it here out of respect for the literally thousands of pray-ers like myself and prayers logged in that special and sacred space over the decades. The chapel may now be closed, but in my mind the space remains holy ground to this very day because prayer – the prayers made to God centuries ago, yesterday, today, and tomorrow – have no expiration date. God will answer each and every one in His time. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11. And thankfully, all over the world today there are chapels continuing the legacy of Phillips Chapel with their doors open wide waiting for pilgrims just like you and me to enter the sacred space of God’s presence through our prayers.

So, choose a chapel or other sacred space you’d like to visit and, while there, why not explore Nexus Prayer? 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!

Note: Although a work in progress, I encourage you to visit the sacred spaces page on this website regularly to discover chapels in your local area or anywhere around the world where you may visit…and pray. – aaw

NOTES & CREDITS

1 Hierotopy | Studies in the Making of Sacred Spaces | Alexi Lidov

2 What is Sacred Space? | Roberta Green Ahmanson for Biola Magazine (2011.)

3 Saint Martin of Tours | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

4 Phillips Chapel | Brief history, with photographic views of both the outside and inside of the Chapel compiled by LoopNet on February 26, 2013 from property record data and historical listings.

5 Photo Credit: Phillips Chapel illustration commissioned for Nexus Prayer International from artist, Mary R. Delamy. Copyright © 2017 Rev. Allen Aaron White | Nexus Prayer International | Many thanks to Piedmont International University for their kind permission to use their line drawing of Tennessee Temple University’s Phillips Chapel as a reference source that, along with actual photographs of Phillips Chapel, were used to create our illustration.

6 Photo Credit: “Flame” Super Hero | Public domain image used with permission via Wikimedia Commons. Illustration by Will Eisner (pencils) and Lou Fine (inks), uploaded by Roygbiv666 (Public Domain Super Heroes) [Public domain, GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sacred Spaces: Villa de Matel Chapel

Villa Chapel | Villa de Matel Houston | Used with permission of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word | Nexus Prayer International
Villa de Matel Chapel, Houston

This journal entry continues my introduction to chapels and sacred spaces. The sacred spaces page may be found under the “Resources” menu at the top of this page.

VILLA CHAPEL | VILLA DE MATEL – HOUSTON
Ruah Sprirituality Center | 6510 Lawndale St. • Houston, TX 77023 | Phone: (713) 928-6053

Located near the heart of downtown Houston, the circa 1920s Villa de Matel Chapel (Villa Chapel) is closer to a Gothic cathedral than a small church building designed for prayer. Yet, despite the breadth of its size and the depth of its beauty, I’ve been blessed to spend many an hour there in both community and solitary contemplative prayer, as well as attend many church services, Taizé prayer services, and weekend centering prayer retreats at the Ruah Spirituality Center.  This is indeed a very special, sacred space to me (that’s the Villa Chapel in the background of my bio photo.)

Ruah’s mission as described on their official website says it best: “Ruah’s spaces are set apart for silence. Silence is presented as nonnegotiable: it is offered as a gift and guarded as a treasure for those who seek. Here people are led to rest in God’s presence; then the same Breath of God (Ruah) who drew them here sends them out to confidently echo the good news of God’s love on the streets of their lives.”

I encourage you to visit the Villa Chapel (reservations required) and, while there, enjoy the healing, spiritual environment of their nature walks, labyrinth, silent prayer retreats, and their contemplative prayer of choice, centering prayer. But while there, I also invite you to give Nexus Prayer a try. 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!

Note: Although a work in progress, I encourage you to visit the sacred spaces page on this website regularly to discover chapels and other sacred spaces in your local area (or anywhere around the world) where you may visit…and pray. – aaw

NOTES & CREDITS

1 Photo Credit: Villa Chapel photograph Copyright © 2017 Villa de Matel. Used with express written permission. | Many thanks to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and The Ruah Spirituality Center for the gift of their ministry to the Greater Houston area, as well as their kind permission to link to their website and use their photo of of the beautiful Villa Chapel on this website.

Praying On the Go

 “Lawnmower” by Daniel Watson | Public Domain via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

SPECIAL PLACE-SACRED SPACE PRAYER

Without question, the very best way to maximize the benefits and enjoy the experience of Nexus Prayer is to pray when we are still, quiet, and undistracted. Better still (no pun intended), is to practice Nexus Prayer in a sacred space.  Whether in an intimate chapel, a cathedral, a beautifully landscaped garden, or even sitting alone on a bench by a lake, there is something special, something holy about praying in a sacred space. But if you live a busy, multi-tasking, and all-too-often stressful life like mine, the opportunities to just “get away from it all” to some secluded spiritual oasis are few and far between. Besides, the Apostle Paul exhorts us as Christians to pray without ceasing for everything, everyone, and everywhere I Thessalonians 5:17, I Timothy 2:1-8. For these reasons, we must learn to pray Nexus Prayer during our ordinary, everyday lives but also while we are on the go.

“Ordinary Prayer” by Allen White | Copyright ©2017 Nexus Prayer International. All rights reserved.
Allen & Rugby take a 5 minute break from work for Nexus Prayer.

ORDINARY TIME
FOR PRAYER

We spend most of our time here on earth doing quite mundane, ordinary things with our time: eating, working, attending school, doing the dishes or laundry, gardening, and cooking to name just a few.

Interestingly, it is not a requirement, nor do we necessarily need to find special times or places (though it helps) for prayer in our life. That’s because there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of opportunities in our lives every single day for prayer in general, and Nexus Prayer in particular. For example, because my schedule permits it today, I’m going to stop what I’m doing right now (writing this post) and do a 5 minute Nexus Prayer. (Be right back.) Done!

Likewise, although I awaken every morning at 5am for special, uninterrupted Nexus Prayer before beginning my day, I routinely pray Nexus Prayer every time I mow the lawn. After all, cutting grass is a pretty mindless activity.  Try it and you’ll see that you can perform a 5 minute or even a 20 minute Nexus Prayer while mowing, gardening, pulling weeds, or almost any outdoor activity.1 If you want to learn how to pray on the spiritual mountain tops, you first need to learn how to pray on terra firma. So, after we turn off the TV, we shouldn’t have to look too hard or too far to find a few minutes for prayer right there under our nose.

BE STILL … AND GO!

No, you did not just discover an oxymoron. It’s a fact, ours is a very mobile generation. Setting aside for the moment how much time we spend on our mobile phones and devices, American drivers spend an average of 17,600 minutes behind the wheel of their car each year.2 That being so, why not put that enormous block of time to work? Or to prayer? Between errands, church, commute time to and from work, appointments, shopping, and more, we spend a lot of time going places in our vehicles. So why not make your car or truck a vehicle for prayer? I call it praying with my eyes wide open. Add to that the time we spend waiting in line for a drivers’ license, making bank deposits, fast food drive thrus, and the like, and the time adds up quickly. Wasted time? Not much in my life nowadays as I typically use those 5, 10, and 15 minute waits in line at the post office and pharmacy drive thru for Nexus Prayer.

Don’t have time to pray? Think again. In fact, why not pray right now? 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 & CREDITS

1 Be Still & Do | Like being still and praying while on the go, this appears to be an oxymoron. It is unusual I admit. However, Nexus Prayer is first and foremost just “BE-ing” with, listening to God. It is a conversation with God doing most of the talking. We multitask and have conversations with others all the time in our daily lives. Why not with Nexus Prayer?

2 American Driving Habits | AAA Report, September 8, 2016 | American Automobile Association

3 Photo Credit: “Lawnmower” by Daniel Watson | Public Domain via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

4 Photo Credit: “Ordinary Prayer” by Allen White | Copyright ©2017  Nexus Prayer International. All rights reserved.

Nexus Prayer Journal

Photo by Mikhail Pavstyuk | Public domain photo used and modified by permission via Unsplash. | Nexus Prayer International.

 

Welcome to my journal! Here you will find my personal ruminations, posts, and experiences with Nexus Prayer.

Although I add new entries, practical tips, and suggestions for improving your Nexus Prayer practice regularly, much of the content you will find here is taken directly from my original observations and notebooks of 2015 while conducting my one year (365 consecutive days) of research, intensive study, and development of Nexus Prayer.

“We hear God best when we are still and silent.”

It is my sincerest prayer that by sharing my personal insights about Nexus Prayer with you here that you, also, will come to discover not only a deeper communion with Jesus Christ, but experience the unconditional love of God and the “peace that passes all understanding” that can be yours through the quietude of Nexus Prayer. After all, we hear God best when we are still and silent.

 “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Note: You may explore all of my journal entries in chronological order by simply scrolling through all the posts found below this one, or jump down to the footer on this page to choose from either my most recent articles, or select specific posts from the archive calendar. Like to receive new posts “hot off the press” as they are written? You may do so by subscribing to this blog.

Tired of reading? 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 & CREDITS

Original Photo Credit: Books photoby Mikail Pavstyuk in Public Domain used and modified by permission via Unsplash. | Nexus Prayer International.