In my home country, the Netherlands, you still see many large wagon wheels, not on wagons, but as decorations at the entrances of farms or on the walls of restaurants. I have always been fascinated by these wagon wheels: with their wide rims, strong wooden spokes, and big hubs. These wheels help me to understand the importance of a life lived from the center. When I move along the rim, I can reach one spoke after the other, but when I stay at the hub, I am in touch with all the spokes at once.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
When I think of the word hub, I think of the binding center of an object or business. A hub is a focal point or center from which other things evolve. We often hear of airline hubs which are places where airlines concentrate passenger traffic and flight operations at a given airport. It means that you can go to a hub airport and literally go anywhere in the world, often nonstop. Nouwen images the wagon wheel hub as a place where you can be in touch with the entire wheel. It goes without saying that our relationship to Jesus as Lord is the hub of our faith. As Christ followers we need a hub of practice.
Let me suggest that the hub of our relationship is communication with God, and that communication is prayer. Without communication there is no understanding or action. We can learn all we can about a famous person, but until we communicate with them, we do not know them. The hub of being a follower of Christ is our commitment to study and service to the world, but these are meaningless without a personal relationship that is established with regular prayer. Prayer is not a luxury or an option, but the “hub center” from which all else in our relationship evolves. How should we pray?
We pray by setting aside time to communicate with God on a regular basis. This could be regularly attending a time of worship. In worship we are taken away from the distractions of the world and committed to a time to be with God. While we are in worship, we have the perfect opportunity to communicate with God. Worship is truly a time of other worldliness. In worship we are inspired by the mere fact that in worship we are not alone and gain strength from the communion of the saints, both past and present. In worship we are given specific times and ways to pray, and we are strengthened by the community that surrounds us. Worship is a time for prayer.
Prayer can also be a time of silence and reflection. This is a time that we can individually set aside to be in communication with God. Try to take just five minutes a day to listen to God and invite his peace into your spirit. You can start this with a simple repetitive prayer, such as the Jesus Prayer. Repeating the words can bring us into focus with God, and he will then he acts within our spirit. This works best when a time and /or a place is set aside. A room, a chair, a tree, anywhere you can be silent and focused..
Prayer can also be highly active. The use of written prayers, prayer beads of some sort or Christian icons can allow you to get in touch with God. Let me urge you to make prayer the hub of your practice as a Christian. The more you communicate, the better you will understand him and the fuller your life will become.
The scripture reminds us that all communication begins with our relationship with Jesus from whom all else comes. (John 14:6)
Lord, I want to communicate with you. May I come to know that prayer is the way that is accomplished. I implore you to help me to learn to pray regularly and effectively. May I see that prayer is the true hub of my relationship with you. Let my prayers be the center of my life and work as one of your followers. This I faithfully and humbly ask of you.