Antonio felt the gentle buzz of the plane’s engine on his seat as he soared over the trees. He was a delivery pilot for a mining operation deep in the Amazon rain forest and this flight was a routine he knew well. He had woken up with a start as the alarm sounded, showered, changed, grabbed breakfast and coffee and then met the fuel up crew at the airstrip to do some routine equipment checks. The morning safety checks were a habit—he had a routine and he stuck with it, knowing it could be the difference between reaching the destination or not. He brain was in autopilot at this point, just gazing at the greenery below, making little adjustments in steering and altitude without thinking about it. But suddenly his mind was jerked awake. The engine was sputtering. I’m sure Antonio was probably sending up prayers at this time. Just as checking the engine and fueling up the plane in the morning is essential for a successful flight, praying earnestly to God and making time for heart-to-heart communion with Him is what will sustain us spiritually and emotionally throughout the rest of the day.
The sputtering of an engine will get anyone’s attention if it’s the motor running their aircraft. I’d definitely be praying too. Prayers of course are always appropriate when there’s a crisis, but my question is this: What would happen if deep, heartfelt prayer was a daily habit? What if it was habitual, not crisis-based? That’s the key to a deeper bond with Christ. Morning prayer sets our day in the right direction.
Paul highlights the necessity of consistent prayer too when he says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) But we can also take seriously the Psalmist when he says in Psalm 90:14-16: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.” God wants to bless us when our feet first hit the floor in the morning. The question is, will we allow ample time in our day for connection with Him?
Antonio ended up having to land his plane in a tree-strewn clearing in the Brazilian jungle. He scavenged what he could from the burning aircraft, but he still knew that it would take a miracle to survive the harsh jungle. As the days passed, he found himself praying more and more, encouraged by the thought that God was on His side helping him through each day. After 36 days of foraging, camping, walking, starting fires, and surviving the insects, predators, and dangers, he was rescued by a group of nut scavengers camped near some abandoned airstrips. His harrowing wilderness journey started with a faulty plane engine and ended with a miraculous emergency landing and a long prayer walk through the jungle.
I don’t know if his crash landing happened because he missed something during the morning engine check, but I do know that our own morning devotional time with God is essential for spiritual health and most of all for our witness to the rest of the world about our loving Redeemer. Ellen White says, “It is our privilege to open our hearts, and let the sunshine of Christ's presence in. My brother, my sister, face the light. Come into actual, personal contact with Christ, that you may exert an influence that is uplifting and reviving. Let your faith be strong and pure and steadfast. Let gratitude to God fill your hearts. When you rise in the morning, kneel at your bedside, and ask God to give you strength to fulfil the duties of the day, and to meet its temptations. Ask Him to help you to bring into your work Christ's sweetness of character. Ask Him to help you to speak words that will inspire those around you with hope and courage, and draw you nearer to the Saviour.” (Ellen White, Prayer 156)
Olson, Emily and Sarah Ferguson. “Antonio Sena’s Plane Crashed in the Rain Forest. The Next 36 Days Made him Brazil’s Hero.” ABC News Australia. 9 May 2021. Accessed September 8, 2021. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-10/brazil-pilot-antonio-sena-crash-amazon-36-days/100125774