Forty years ago a plane with about 200 people on board was getting ready to land in Portland, Oregon, a city in the United States. The landing gear made strange sounds when the pilot pulled the lever to lower it into place. He was afraid to land and began circling the airport, hoping he could find out what the problem was and fix it.
Time passed more quickly than the pilot realised. The flight engineer kept telling him, “Captain, we’re running out of fuel”. But the pilot wasn’t listening. Instead of heading for the runway, he was still working on the problem with the landing gear.
All four engines shut down and the plane crashed into some houses. Coasting to the runway would have been much better.
Experts discovered later that the landing gear was working properly. The odd sounds that worried the pilot were a different problem. He could have landed the plane safely. Amazingly, while many were injured, only eight people died.
Something similar can happen to you in your spiritual life. You can become fixated on something, like finding more money, getting a better job or dealing with a problem at home.
You’re so fixated on it that you forget about God and you abandon prayer. Prayer is like the fuel in the plane that you need to keep it flying. Prayer is like fuel that keeps you from crashing.
Without prayer, you’re no longer listening to God. You’re like that pilot who wasn’t listening to warnings from the flight engineer. Without prayer you start making the wrong decisions, carried away by all the problems in your life. Without prayer, you end up pushing God out of your life. You don’t push him out because you think it’s a good idea. It just happens.
Jesus told his disciples how crucial prayer is when he said: “In your prayers do not babble as the gentiles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you should pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come...’”
Notice the way Jesus asks us to focus on God instead of focusing on our problems. He wants us to believe that God already knows what we need.
Instead of being obsessed with all the things we think are important, prayer helps us open our eyes and look at what’s actually more important — like that pilot who needed to stop focusing on the landing gear and start focusing on getting to the runway before it was too late.