Praying on an Airplane

Praying on an Airplane

I wrote my column for this week while flying on an airplane last Friday. My wife’s father was an Air Force colonel, and partially for that reason I think, she has always been very comfortable flying. I used to be down-right terrified of flying, but I am more comfortable now-though not nearly so comfortable as my wife.

When I was really terrified of flying I remember I used to be fearful that maybe the pilot was incompetent (or even tipsy.) Later as my faith in the Lord gradually increased, I found I still prayed during flights (especially when there was turbulence) but I also came to believe that ultimately God was in charge of everything and not the pilot. (although I still pray for the pilot!)

Perhaps I am a not-altogether-typical American Christian though, since I also believe that God has given his adopted children, who are part of his royal priesthood (see 1 Peter 2:9), some of his own divine authority and power in this world. Because of that, I have been known to pray against (and even to rebuke) powers of darkness or of chaos or anything else that might buffet an airplane!

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray that his kingdom would come and his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Of course there are no fatal crashes in heaven, so I am comfortable praying that they not happen on earth either! Naturally someone will object and say “Casey, there is no death in heaven either so why don’t you just pray against death on earth as well?”

My answer is “I pray against death all the time. It was not part of God’s original plan for creation, and Jesus began the defeat of death through his death on the cross and his resurrection....but as the Apostle Paul writes, ‘the last enemy to be destroyed is death. ‘“(1 Corinthians 15:26)

I realize that in praying in the way I have described, I may pray more boldly than some Christians think is appropriate. On the other hand, this whole discussion makes me wonder if some who consider themselves to be biblical Christians may not occasionally be more Deist than Christian.

Who are Deists? Deists believe in a far-away, distant, and uninvolved God. It is sort of as if he created the world and then went off somewhere for a smoke. Or as someone else has put it, the (false) god of Deism is like a clockmaker who wound up a clock and then left it to run all by itself. This false god is not intimately involved with his creation as is the God of both the Old and New Testaments. The false, distant god of Deism is definitely not Emmanuel, which in Hebrew means “God with us, and which in the New Testament is a term applied to Jesus. (See Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23.)

In the New Testament, not only is God supremely involved with us through having become human in His Son Jesus, but both God the Father and God the Son are still intimately present with us through the Holy Spirit. When we become adopted children of the Most High God through faith in His Son, our older brother, Jesus, (through his death for our sins), then I believe Jesus gives us as a community some of his own authority and power.

Next week, God willing, when I am not on an airplane and have an open Bible in front of me, I shall continue to discuss (from scripture) the kinds of authority which I believe Jesus has given to his people.

Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at This column first appeared in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.


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