Tag: Advocacy

Resolved: More Prayer

Photo by NordWood Themes. Modified and used with permission by Nexus Prayer via Unsplash

Before highlighting a few of the resolutions I’ve made for Nexus Prayer and myself for the New Year, let’s take a quick look at last year and the resolutions currently trending in the United States for 2019  according to Inc. (Thank you, Statista!)Infographic: The Top New Year's Resolutions For 2019 | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Notice anything missing? As in previous years, you’ll find no resolutions (less than 10%) to spend more time with God through increased church attendance, Scripture reading, or prayer among Americans priorities. No surprise there. Equally unsurprising is that prayer in general, and nexus prayer in particular, are both at the top of my New Year’s resolution list. As promised, here are a few personal goals and plans for Nexus Prayer in 2019:

  • Nexus Prayer – Since Nexus Prayer was first launched in 2015, I have gradually succeeded in increasing the amount of time I spend daily in nexus prayer and I plan on continuing that trend for 2019. Although my daily goal will remain at one hour, my average for the last three years has been 30 minutes. That works out to 5,359 sessions; 1,570 days; 803 total hours, with an average of 3.4 sessions per day. I’m not bragging here. To the contrary, I wish I could pray more. But what’s worth mentioning is that the vast majority of that time spent connecting to God through nexus prayer was done in five minute prayer sessions! That’s 803 hours spent with God in prayer five minutes at a time. It adds up!
  • Intercessory Prayer – Likewise, I’m increasing my daily intercessory prayer time – time used praying for the needs of others in 2019. This includes praying for family, friends, the nexus prayer circle, my parish, various ministries, my fellow brothers at the Order of Saint Francis, my community, our country (God bless America!), and too many other individuals, churches, and organizations to list here by name.
  • Book Projects  – Although work on my first book on nexus prayer got off to a good start in 2018, I intend to have it completed and released before year-end. In addition, I have begun work on  a second book focusing on the history and symbolism of the San Damiano Cross (the cross of Saint Francis). Most of this research and writing will continue this year with my weekly visits to The Lanier Theological Library,
  • Franciscan Formation – As many of you know, I was accepted as a Candidate with The Order of Saint Francis (Anglican) last Fall when my formation to become a Franciscan friar was begun in earnest. The process continues this year, culminating in June when I will travel to Wisconsin to take my temporary vows as a Postulant.
  • Nexus Prayer Circle – Our local nexus prayer circle that meets every Sunday at Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church has continued to grow and flourish.  I pray for God’s continued blessings on the members of this group, while also doing all I can to help grow the prayer group that has formed at the 1960 Hope Center and meets every Friday at 12:30pm.
  • Advocacy – My volunteer work as an advocate for “the least of these” will continue this year focusing on the elderly, homeless, victims of human and sex trafficking, as well as immigrants and refugees. I also hope to become involved in preserving God’s Creation by learning more about climate change, global warming, and taking better care of our environment.
  • Personal – My plethora of personal goals for 2019 are too many to mention (all according to God’s will of course), but include: learning to live debt free, living more intentionally, eating better, serving more in my local parish, reducing clutter, getting more organized, being a better husband, father, friend, and continuing to perfect my biscotti recipe!

And what about you? What dreams do you dare to dream? What goals has God given you? How will you stretch, grow, serve, and love both God and your neighbor in 2019? What audacious projects will you take on in the coming year? Only you and God know the answers to those questions, but whatever your resolutions, my prayers are with you. However, know this: the answer is ultimately found in Matthew 6:33.

“But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things will be added unto you.”


NOTES & REFERENCES

1 The Top New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 | Statista and Inc. Magazine

2 Photo Credit: Happy New Year 2019 by NordWood Themes in Public Domain via Unsplash | Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

Photo by Matt Collamer | Used with Permission | Nexus Prayer International

“I have learned from St. Francis that where there is no involvement with human suffering, there is no following of God’s will.” ~ Murray Bodo

St. Francis joins Nexus Prayer

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-​1226)

JESUS, SAINT FRANCIS, & NEXUS PRAYER
A WINNING COMBINATION

So, today, Saint Francis joined Nexus Prayer. (Or did Nexus Prayer join St. Francis?) You decide. Either way, our mission is the same – trying to authentically live out the Gospel in our daily lives while sharing the love of Jesus with our generation.

Nexus prayer has been a part of my daily spiritual activities for more than three years now. During that time, God has been ever-so-slowly transforming me from the inside out as I’ve spent quality one-on-one time just listening to him in prayer. As a result, I believe I’m a kinder, gentler, and wiser version (he said humbly) of my former self. That’s not so surprising since I’m convinced that the more time we spend with Jesus, the more we become like Jesus.

But what has been surprising this year is my increased awareness of and interest in all things Franciscan. Perhaps I should not be so shocked by my attraction to Saint Francis as I’ve worn a San Damiano cross for over twenty years and, as mentioned elsewhere on this site, most of the spiritual mentors who have been busy planting seeds in my soul for years are all Franciscans – John Michael Talbot, Richard Rohr, and Murray Bodo to name just a few. I just never thought of myself actually becoming a Franciscan. Until now.

“The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we become like Jesus.”

The Franciscan vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, along with their companion values of simplicity, humility, harmony, compassion, service, and prayer all resonate with me, albeit with a modern-day twist. Those admirable qualities notwithstanding, there are several important reasons why I am compelled to embrace a Franciscan lifestyle today, and why since the middle of July I have been prayerfully discerning a call to a Franciscan vocation (Anglican or Secular Order) in the near future.

All of these Franciscan virtues (Jesus’ virtues really) will be explored in future posts to my journal. For now, however, suffice it to say that there are several important reasons I feel compelled by God to continue my walk with Jesus, but now have St. Francis as my traveling companion:

THE DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA
First, because perhaps like no other time in the history of our country (at least during my lifetime), many of the government leaders and people in our society (including Christians) seem to reflect the divided states, rather than the United States of America. Whether the issue is immigration, race, gun control, religion, gay rights, women’s rights, or the plethora of other human issues and societal ills, the current social and political climate have never been more polarizing. Us versus them. Still not convinced? You need look no further than the current controversy surrounding the Supreme Court to know that what I am saying is true.

THE NEED TO DO SOMETHING
Second, thanks to nexus prayer, I believe I am closer to God than ever before in my life and clearly hear His call to be obedient to step forward as an advocate for all the disenfranchised and most vulnerable members of our society wherever I am able. I desire to be a voice of love, peace, compassion, and reconciliation in contrast to so many who are stoking the coals of hatred and the flames of bigotry and racism. I can’t do everything, but I can do something and believe it is my Christian responsibility to do so. James 4:17 This is just one reason why my wife works in the mission field of sex and human trafficking at Redeemed Ministries and why I’ve recently begun volunteering and teaching at the Hope Center – a ministry that serves the homeless men and women in the North Houston Area.

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
Finally,  although I will never measure up to the examples of Jesus, Thomas á Kempis, and Saint Francis, I feel led to walk this path today because I believe as Christians we are called…

  • To recognize the human dignity of every person as created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 | Genesis 2:7
  • To be good stewards of our planet and take good care of God’s creation. Genesis 1:1-31
  • To share God’s unconditional love for all, and be a light in the darkness. John 3:16 | Matthew 22:36-40 | I John 4:7-12
  • To live the Gospel radically for “the least of these” Matthew 25:34-45 | Matthew 5:16
  • To be advocates for justice for the most vulnerable in our society: the poor, aged, sick, homeless, refugees, immigrants, and victims of sex and human trafficking. Isaiah 61:1 | Matthew 25:34-40
  • To be peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 | Matthew 5:11-17

Prayer is good. Nexus prayer is great. But as the Apostle James reminds us, “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:14-17 To this end, I’ve already taken baby steps in my life to be the hands, feet, and voice of Christ to my generation (more on this later), just as I believe Saint Francis did for his. In other words, the prayer not written by, but usually attributed to Saint Francis has also become my prayer:

Lord Make Me an Instrument
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen

Image Credit | Saint Francis of Assisi
The oldest surviving depiction of Saint Francis is a fresco near the entrance of the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco, painted between March 1228 and March 1229. | In Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons and License Art Libre.

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