We were racing down the runway towards liftoff, but something wasn’t quite right. I don’t know much about planes, but I’d never felt shaking like this on any other flight I’d been on. It felt more like I was in a truck speeding down a pot-holed dirt road than in a modern jet on a smooth runway. I found myself clutching the arm rests with my sweaty hands while I desperately tried to see past the plane wing that was blocking my view of the ground. What was going on? To my relief, we finally left both the ground and the shaking behind. I continued to hold my breath as we banked into a turn, but when we leveled off and seemed no worse for the vibrations, I started to ease into normal breathing and loosened my grip. My respite was short-lived. The pilot’s voice came over the PA system. He acknowledged that the sensation we’d all felt was due to a malfunction. The tread on one of the plane’s tires had been lost. We would continue on to our intended destination where emergency crews would be waiting to assist our landing and the process of getting to our gate.
So many thoughts were going through my mind. Shouldn’t we turn around? I nixed that idea, as it would still involve landing on our problematic tire. What would happen when we landed? Would the pilot lose control and careen off the runway? Would the friction cause a fire? Maybe the plane would flip over. I quickly counted the rows to the nearest exit and squeezed the hand of my son, who was sitting next to me.
The strange thing is that no one else around me seemed to have any concern. There were no cries, no whispers. I couldn’t even identify a panicked glance. Everyone continued on like it was a normal flight. The attendants served drinks. People watched movies. Others read books. Was I the only one that was worried?
I realized that my fears were not productive. Each dire possibility that entered my mind just fueled my anxiety. I couldn’t do anything anyway. Or could I? I decided that it would be more constructive to use my energy to pray. I prayed that God would protect us. I reminded myself that He had complete control over everything that was happening. I didn’t claim to know His purposes, but I knew whatever way this story ended, His will was perfect. I can’t say I prayed once and then left it with God. I prayed, prayed again, and prayed some more. Every time the fears would well up in my mind, I’d pray again.
I so wanted to call my parents to ask them to pray for us. They’ve been such faithful prayer partners for years. They’ve prayed for me in so many different instances and I knew they wouldn’t hesitate to pray intensely at this time. I reasoned that, although I couldn’t call my dad and mom while in the air, maybe I could send off a quick email alert. I’ve never tried to email anyone while I was flying. I tried to figure out how to connect to wifi, but had no success. I asked my son about using data, but he was sure it wouldn’t work. I tried anyway. It didn’t work. I was so frustrated. I needed people to pray, but there was no way to ask for them to do it.
What about you? Have you had a situation that you desperately felt needed collective prayer, but were unable to ask for it? Maybe, like me, you were some place that prevented contact with those who could have prayed for you. Maybe you even now have a situation that is too personal to tell anyone about. Whatever the reason for it, I think most of us have times when we feel very alone in our situation.
I’ve been thinking about Hannah in 1 Samuel. There we read of at least two others that knew her deepest desire – to have a child. The first was her husband, Elkanah. He may have been praying that the Lord would open his wife’s womb, but we are not specifically told this. He did go yearly to worship and offer sacrifices, but we don’t know if these actions were accompanied by prayer for his wife. He seemed resigned to her plight. The other person in the ‘know’ was Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife. It is doubtful that Hannah found a prayer partner in her, since this ‘other woman’ seemed intent on taunting her. The surprising thing is that Hannah didn’t even seem to ask the priest to pray for her when she went to the tabernacle to pray. If she had, Eli wouldn’t have mistaken her silent prayers for drunkenness. I think both Hannah’s lack of reliance on the priest and his reaction to her showed just how far the priests were at this time from fulfilling their God-given role of intercessor.
When we encounter a need in our life that we are not able to share around the prayer circles, what are we to do? Do we despair because we are in this on our own? I think the key is understanding we aren’t alone. Over and over again in the Bible, God reminded people that they weren’t facing circumstances by themselves. Do you think that these verses have an asterisk that sets you apart from this promise?
Fear thou not; for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 49:10
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9
Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask others to pray for us and with us when we’re able to do this. I strongly believe that God has allowed people to intervene on my behalf through prayer. I’m sure that only Heaven will reveal the many times people have prayed and God has hearkened to their cry. But I also don’t think that God is impotent in His own strength. He doesn’t coldly wait to react only if a certain number of prayers reach Him. He loves us and He is all powerful to orchestrate any plan that is in His will – all…by…Himself.
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: Psalm 59:1
Dear friend, if you are in a place today where your burdens feel like they are borne by you alone, look up! God knows all about your circumstances, even if no one else does. He will carry your burdens for you, if you’ll only let Him.
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22