As I drive to the church from my house, I see planes taking off from DFW Airport. Large planes and small planes, they follow one anther often less than two minutes apart.
A couple of weeks ago I began praying for each plane I saw go by. This practice quickly brought to mind the wide variety of stories of each of the thousands of passengers. Some of the planes may have carried someone I know. Since I now pastor pilots, some of these planes may have been flown by people I know.
I have found this prayer practice helpful in getting me beyond me. With a new job and a new house (and a new house PAYMENT, which I’ve never had before) and a new baby It would be, and sometimes has been,easy to get caught up focusing on myself. Praying for people by the hundreds has been a good exercise for me to remember two things. First, there are so many needs and desires and joys all around me. God is interested in the welfare of everyone of these people. Each of them has been created in God’s own image and as such is intended by God to represent God to the rest of us. The second thing it has helped me remember is how all of our lives intersect and overlap. I don’t know who is on any of these planes, yet I could have crossed paths with them in the past week, or might tomorrow.
Then, two days ago, I noticed flight patterns changed. Planes were no longer taking off to the south, but coming in for landings from the south. Now, suddenly, I am praying for people who are coming into DFW rather than those who are leaving.
What difference does it make? People are coming into our lives every day. Others are leaving. Each one has a past (behind them) and a future (in front of them). Prayers appropriately focus on both pasts and futures, but feel a little different from each other.
It seems, sometimes, that a lot of prayer is about the future. Over the last few years especially I have come to realize that praying about the past – how we remember it, how we live in response to it, is at least as important and beneficial as praying about the future.
As you pray today, pray in both directions.