Synchronized Prayer

Synchronized Swimmers | Public Domain via Jesus de Blas | Used and modified with permisssion | Nexus Prayer International
Synchronized Prayer

No doubt you are familiar with the Olympic sports of synchronized diving, skating, and swimming, the latter previously known as water ballet. But who knew that synchronized swimming has been around as a competitive sporting event since 1891? 1  Now, let me introduce you to something that you may or may not be familiar with – synchronized prayer – specifically, synchronized Nexus Prayer.

Strictly speaking, and by definition, synchronization occurs when two independent agents act in unison, occur at the same time, coincide, or agree in time or concert at the same rate and exactly together. When this principle is applied to prayer, I think it looks something like what Jesus had in mind when he said:

Again, I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19,20

Now, it’s obvious that Jesus had a literal, physical gathering of individuals in mind when he spoke those words, but there is no reason why today, with all our technological advances, that we Christians cannot gather together virtually as well. Indeed, even though I live in Spring and my personal Nexus Prayer partner lives in the Houston Heights, we “gather” in our separate homes at 5:20 each morning for Nexus Prayer, but to also synchronize our prayer time with The Brothers of the Taizé Community in France. Now, with a local prayer group gathering for Nexus Prayer every Sunday morning at 10:15 am (Room BEC 315) at Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church of Houston, I’d like to extend the invitation for others to join us for synchronized prayer during the rest of the week.

The concept is the same as we find in Scripture. David prayed morning, “noon”, and night; the Apostles observed the Jewish custom of praying at the third, sixth and ninth hour and at midnight (Acts 10:3, 9; 16:25; etc.), and for centuries monastic brothers and sisters have united for the Liturgy of the Hours 2 throughout the day.

Synchronized Prayer
Except for the occasional scheduling conflict, special meetings, or select holidays, below are my scheduled daily prayer times seven days a week. I invite you join me for synchronized prayer any or all times as your schedule permits. If you like, text me a few minutes before the posted time so I’ll know you are joining me for a 5 minute Nexus Prayer. Conversely, I also recommend you have a regular time each day that you set aside for Nexus Prayer. Let me know your set times and I’ll join you! Don’t have a scheduled prayer practice yet? No problem. To get started, simply begin with a  5 minute Nexus Prayer sometime in the morning, and another in the evening, eventually adding one in the afternoon – three times a day! Regardless, my recommendation is that everyone find at least one time a day that is ideal for their personal routine and make it a regular, daily event – a divine appointment.

My Daily Scheduled Prayer Times (November 2017)

Morning Prayer
5:00 am
| Morning Prayers | Synchronized prayer with the Brothers of SSJE Monastery 3
5:20 am | Nexus Prayer | Synchronized prayer with Fr. Randall Trego, Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church (Houston) and the Brothers of Taizé Community4 in France.
10:15 am | Nexus Prayer | Synchronized prayer with Saint Dunstan’s Nexus Prayer Group (meets at church on Sunday mornings at 10:15 in Room 315 of the Bentley Education Center.)

Midday Prayer
12:00 noon
| Daily synchronized Nexus Prayer at noon (meets for a special Eucharist Service and prayer every Thursday at noon in Saint Dunstan’s Canterbury Chapel.)

Evening Prayer
6:00 pm
| Synchronized Nexus Prayer in conjunction with evening prayer walks for the community
11:00 pm | Evening Prayers with final Nexus Prayer of the day

Seven Days a Week (5 am-11:00 pm)
I strive for one hour of Nexus Prayer daily (God gives us 24 hours each day, the least we can do is give one back don’t you think?) So that means that in addition to my scheduled prayers, I also try to sprinkle in about another half dozen nexus prayers throughout the day as my schedule permits. Why not join me?

And although we gather for prayer in community every Sunday, synchronized prayer allows us to pray in communion with one another virtually, whether you are in Houston, New York, Canberra, or Canterbury. Perfect for when you are unable to make it to church or are on a business trip. Bottom line:  Allen is happy to join you for a 5-minute Nexus Prayer any day of the week, seven days a week, between 5:00 am and 11:00 pm. I’m just a text, email, or phone call away. Let’s pray together!

Other Synchronized Prayer Opportunities
You are welcome to join Allen in synchronized prayer during any of the published times above. But if you like, you can also participate in synchronized prayer with the Brothers of Taizé and the Brothers of SSJE Monastery. Their daily scheduled prayer times as listed on their respective websites are shown below:

Finally, allow yourself a few minutes of extra time to prepare yourself for prayer, especially if you are scheduling your Nexus Prayer for the early, pre-dawn hours. For example, every morning I begin my morning prayers at 5:00 am, so I set my alarm clock for 4:54 to allow myself enough time to get up, wash my face, and prepare to start my prayer precisely at 5:00 am. Likewise, when planning to pray with the Brothers of Taizé at 1:30 pm in Houston (8:30 pm in France), my iPhone timer gives me a 5 minute reminder so I can stop what I am doing at the moment and properly prepare myself for prayer.

Like more information or interested in joining me for prayer? Contact me.

NOTES & REFERENCES

1 Synchronized Swimming | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

2 Liturgy of the Hours | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

3 Brothers of SSJE Monastery | Episcopalian Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

4 The Brothers of Taizé | Brothers of the Taizé Community, Taizé, France

5 Photo Credit: Synchronized Swimmers | Public Domain via Jesus de Blas (Russia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | 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.