Too Busy To Pray

Rumi Whirling Dervish | Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons | Nexus Prayer International
Rumi Whirling Dervishes

 

TOO BUSY TO PRAY

If Americans are nothing else, we are a nation of busy people. Ask anyone you know, “Hey, how are you doing?” and the answer you’ll most often receive may not be “I’m fine,” but instead, “I’m busy!” Worse yet, ask them how often they pray–even devout Christians—and the reply you’ll receive all too often is, “I’m too busy to pray.”

If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy.”
~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Indeed, as Kevin DeYoung in his book, Crazy Busy,1 points out, the average American works more and rests less than people in other developed nations; we’re not only stressed out, but also stressing out our kids; and we’re not getting enough sleep. No surprise there. But what is surprising is that although most of us pride ourselves in our ability to multi-task, the truth is our brain is literally not capable of multi-tasking. (Maybe that’s why James reminds us that “A double-minded person is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8 ) Instead, scientists tell us that what we refer to as multi-tasking is actually switch-tasking2. Call it what you will, but with most of us trying to juggle our work schedules, school schedules, raising children, daily chores and errands, church activities, and commuting–not to mention all the time we spend on our devices, social media, and watching TV, well, you get the picture. Add to all that the fact that the computer in our head is processing more than 70,000 thoughts per day,3 and I’m certain you’ll agree that we’re a busy people!

Think hyperactivity and busyness are only a modern-day malady? Think again. When King Solomon was not busy planning the first Jewish Temple, building his army, leading his people, and caring for his 700 wives, he also found time to write, share his wisdom, and even pray. Notice that I placed prayer at the end of that list, for there was apparently a period in his life when even he was too busy to pray. Interestingly, although Solomon rightly declares in his book of Ecclesiastes “There’s a time and purpose for everything under heaven,” he either intentionally or inadvertently left out “a time for praying” for it is missing from his “biblical to-do list.”4

Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy – then we need an hour.”
~ St. Francis de Sales

But perhaps the best-known account of biblical busyness is found in Luke 10:38-42 – the time when Jesus visited the house of Martha and Mary.

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Cristo en Casa de Marta y María by Diego Velázquez | Public Domain via via Wikimedia Commons | Nexus Prayer International
Cristo en Casa de Marta y María by Diego Velázquez

 

Now, if you are like me, you probably relate to both Martha and Mary. Both of their attitudes and actions have merit, and there is no shortage of biblical commentaries discussing the finer points of their personal choices. But for the purposes of this short post and in the interest of time, suffice it to say that most of us are probably more like Martha. “No bees, no honey; no work, no money”, “Idleness is the Devil’s workshop”, and “There’s no substitute for hard work” (Edison said that) I can hear you say.

But my guess is that Mary was no phlegmatic, and her desire to sit at the feet of Jesus was not to engage in mere twaddle. In fact, Mary was most likely just as busy, distracted, worried, and upset about the same things as Martha. She most likely knew precisely how much work needed to be done, probably even felt guilty about it, and knew how stressed her sister was over it all. The difference is that Mary had her priorities in order.  After all, how often does one get to have Jesus in your house? No, her decision was intentional. In other words, Mary made a conscious choice to sit at the feet of Jesus, give him her undivided attention, and simply listen…even if for only five minutes.

As for us, it does not have to be an either/or proposition. We can be like both Martha and Mary. The best current example I can think of is Diana, a lay leader in our church and an active member of our local Nexus Prayer group at Saint Dunstan’s.  In addition to being a loving mom and wife, she also works full-time, and also serves our church family by singing in the choir, ministering as a Stephen’s Minister, assisting with the Altar Guild, and was just elected to the Vestry. In other words, she’s one busy woman! But, she is also a woman of prayer, who sets aside the time each week out of her busy schedule to sit at the feet of Jesus in worship during our weekly church services, and faithfully sets aside the time to just “be” with God through both intercessory prayer and Nexus Prayer – both in class and as a part of our virtual prayer group. In other words, she exemplifies the very best of both Mary and Martha. Call her a Mary Martha.

And that’s precisely the purpose of Nexus Prayer. Like Martha, we all have to deal with the daily grind and challenges of life, but like Mary, each of us must also find the time— even if only five minutes a day – to give God our full, undivided attention to just “be” present to God and listen for His still, small voice. And I know of no better way of accomplishing that than by praying Psalm 46:10.

Be still, and know that I am God.”

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 Crazy Busy| Crazy Busy: A Mercifully Short Book About A Really Big Problem by Kevin Deyoung; Crossway (2013). See also, Crossway’s excellent Infographic on busyness: America’s Busyness Epidemic

2 Multi-tasking vs Switch-tasking | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

3 70,000 thoughts per day | LONI: Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at USC

4 Biblical To-Do List | Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

5 Photo Credit: Rumi Whirling Dervish | Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

6 Photo Credit: Cristo en Casa de Marta y María by Diego Velázquez | Public Domain via via Wikimedia Commons.

Praying Resolutely

“2017 Sparkler” by Brigitte Tohm| Used and modified with Permission via Unsplash | Nexus Prayer International

LEAPING INTO 2017
Right on the heels of my New Year’s Eve post on The Arithmetic of Prayer, I want to wish everyone a 2017 that is filled with God’s blessings, happiness, love, success, health, meaning, purpose, peace, and … prayer. Happy New Year!

And since it is that time when most of us make our annual New Year resolutions, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Top 10 New Year resolutions made for 2015, with thanks to Statistics Brain for the assist.

TOP TEN NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS OF 2015

1 Lose Weight
2 Getting Organized
3 Spend Less, Save More
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 Staying Fit and Healthy
6 Learn Something Exciting
7 Quit Smoking
8 Help Others in Their Dreams
9 Fall in Love
10 Spend More Time with Family

That’s the good news. A couple of those are even on my list for 2017, maybe yours too? The not-so-good news, according to Statistics Brain1, is that only 8% percent of Americans were successful in achieving their resolution, and only 46% were successful in maintaining their resolution longer than 6 months. But I noticed an even more alarming fact from reading that list. Did you notice that reading the bible, going to church, drawing closer to God, serving others, and PRAYING MORE did not make the top 10?

RESOLVING TO PRAY MORE IN 2017
It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that prayer – all types of prayer in general and Nexus Prayer in particular – are at the top of my New Year’s resolutions list. Specifically, and with God’s help, I am asking Him to help me spend more time connecting with Him, my family, my church, and my local community through prayer in 2017. Here’s how …

  • Nexus Prayer – Launching the Nexus Prayer website last September went very smoothly, but there are still quite a few sections that need to be completed. Likewise, so far so good in introducing Nexus Prayer to my “… Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the Earth” Acts 1:8. Local classes, presentations, and starting of Nexus Prayer groups are all planned for 2017. On a personal note, and according to my iPhone prayer timer, last year I connected with God through Nexus Prayer 1,478 times for 366 consecutive days (leap year) with a total duration of 214 hours and 31 minutes. Not bad, but with God’s help I want to do better in 2017. My personal Nexus Prayer goal this year is to pray no less than three times a day for a total of no less than an hour a day. God gives me 24 hours a day; it’s the least I can do.
  • Prayer Wall – The infrastructure for the Nexus Prayer Wall got installed , but still needs more tweaking and beta testing. Until I officially launch it on this website, you are invited to submit your prayer request 24.7.365. It would be my privilege to pray on behalf of you, your family, or friends.
  • Prayerwalking – Last November I conducted the first ever Nexus Prayer Walk for our community (with many more planned.) Since that time, I have continued my regular weekly prayer walks every evening for the individuals and families (represented by their house numbers, cars, and street names) in the neighborhood immediately surrounding our home here in Spring, Texas. I also just completed a study of Randy Sprinkle’s excellent book and six week course on prayer walking entitled Follow Me: Lessons for Becoming a Prayerwalker. In 2017 I look forward to continuing my prayer walks as often as possible, and both introducing and conducting prayer walk practicums for local groups and churches in our area.
  • Sacred Spaces – For years I have sought out sacred spaces – both indoor and outdoor – to serve as places of retreat for both contemplation and special praying. Starting this year, I will be identifying my finds and hosting public gatherings for nexus prayer at sacred spaces locally, nationally, and internationally. Have a favorite “hiding place” of your own you’d like to recommend? Send me a note.
  • Book on Nexus Prayer – The manuscript of my first book on Nexus Prayer is well under way with a goal of completing it, an eBook, and a “real” book before the end of next year. Thank you in advance for your prayers that God gives me the spiritual insights, wisdom, time, and resources to complete this project on schedule.

I haven’t listed all of my New Year’s resolutions here, just my No. 1 – spend more time with God in prayer – along with a few Nexus Prayer goals. The bottom line for me is that I’m “all in” to do everything that I can to improve my relationship with and better connect to God through prayer in 2017. My daily prayer to God is “Lord, teach me to pray.” Luke 11:1 and to learn how to “pray without ceasing” I Thessalonians 5:17.

My prayer for you? That “more prayer” also makes it into your top ten resolutions this year. Have you made praying more one of your resolutions for 2017? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear about it. Happy New Year!

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 “New Year’s Resolutions Statistics– Statistic Brain.” | 2016 Statistic Brain Research Institute, publishing as Statistic Brain. | Research Date: December 12, 2016 | http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

2 Photo: “2017 Sparkler” by Brigitte Tohm | Used and modified with Permission via Unsplash.

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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.

Bipedal Praying

Nexus Prayer Walk

 

Nov. 3, 2016

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

nxp_prayerwalk1

As some of you may know, my wife and I have been without a car for a couple of months due to an auto accident that totaled our vehicle. With our rental and loaner benefits long since exhausted, I’ve become “very good friends” with many an Uber driver as we shop around for our next set of wheels.

Last night a local church here in Spring, Texas held a special event dedicated solely to prayer. Desiring to participate, I had the option of either walking or hitching a ride from my house to the church. So, choosing to turn the proverbial lemon into lemonade, I decided to walk the 1.37 miles to the church prayer meeting…and turn that walk into a “bipedal prayer meeting” for our neighborhood.

Dubbed my first official Nexus Prayer Walk, it immediately reminded me of the countless prayer walks taken by my musical muse and mentor, John Michael Talbot, whenever he visits a local community leading up to his concerts.

Fittingly, my walk “just happened” to fall on November 2, All Souls Day. And so it was, that during my solo sojourn to the church, I prayed for all of the souls in my neighborhood represented by the parked and passing cars, people working and playing in their yards, joggers, dog walkers, houses, and streets. From Singing Creek Lane to T.C. Jester Boulevard, from Butteroak to Windypine, Pamela Way to Winding Ridge, and every street in between – my soles did the walking and my soul did the praying.

As I left to make it to the church on time, I wasn’t out the door of our house for even ten seconds when there was a loud clap of thunder. As I looked up to the clouds above, feeling the light, misty rain fall on my face, it was as if God himself – like the children of Israel centuries ago being led by a pillar of a cloud by day Exodus 13:1,2 – was not only leading me to the church by the clouds above, but also listening to my every petition every step of the way.

So, I prayed for my neighbors with every step. But since my prayer walk was piggy-backing the church prayer event, I also prayed for everyone preparing to gather at the church for that very special prayer event.  Not a surprise to anyone who knows me, I also included a 10 minute nexus prayer during my walk – with a special emphasis on the “know component” of nexus prayer – praying for every family, house, and street by name that those who dwell there would come to KNOW God and Jesus Christ. As diverse as the houses I passed, so too are the needs of all of the people who live within. With the song “People Need the Lord” on my heart, my prayer, like Steve Green’s song, was that “… my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Although this was my first Nexus Prayer walk, it certainly will not be my last. In fact, I’m already planning other walks until I’ve prayed for every house and street in our neighborhood. This time was a solitary walk (with God), but who knows? Maybe you’ll join me next time for some serious bipedal praying?

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:

Photo Credit – “Spring Creek Oaks Prayer Guide.” by Allen Aaron White. © Copyright 2016 Nexus Prayer International. Used with permission.

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