Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.
My good friend Jim Knuppe is a great pilot and holds many aeronautical records. He has flown around the world in his private planes a number of times. I remember Jim once shared a story of an encounter he had with a powerful thunderstorm just outside Denver.
The unusual air currents caused the plane to momentarily lose power and fall from the sky. Jim told me what came to mind was just that simple desperate prayer of a believer, “Jesus Help Me!” Scripture records the same prayer used by numerous kings, prophets, and disciples. Jim was spared from tragedy; the plane went on to have a safe and happy landing. God always answers this prayer… even when it’s our last.
Todd Beamer prayed this prayer. The following email I received records the spiritual strength Todd demonstrated on his fateful flight:
“JESUS HELP ME”
The Faith of Todd Beamer
“I don’t think we’re going to get out of this thing. I’m going to have to go out on faith.” It was the voice of Todd Beamer, the passenger… and Wheaton College graduate… who said, “Let’s roll” as he led the charge against the terrorists who had hijacked United Flight 93, the one, you will remember, that crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside.
The whole world knows how brave Beamer and his fellow passengers were on September 11th. But this week we learned more fully what buttressed that bravery: Faith in Jesus Christ.
Todd died as he lived, a faithful evangelical believer. In an article titled “The Real Story of Flight 93”, Newsweek reveals gripping new details from the actual transcripts of the now-recovered cockpit voice recorder. “Todd had been afraid,” Newsweek relates. “More than once, he cried out for his Savior.” After passengers were herded to the back of the jet, Beamer called the GTE Customer Center in Oakbrook, Illinois. He told supervisor Lisa Jefferson about the hijacking. The passengers were planning to jump the terrorists, he said. And then he asked her to pray with him.
As Newsweek relates, “Beamer kept a Lord’s Prayer bookmark in his Tom Clancy novel, but he didn’t need any prompting. He began to recite the ancient litany, and Jefferson joined him:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.”………
As they finished, Beamer added, “Jesus, help me.” And then, Beamer and his fellow passenger prayed a prayer that has comforted millions down through the centuries. The prayer that David wrote in a time of great anguish:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil……….
And then the famous last words: “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”
We now know from the cockpit voice recorder that Beamer and other passengers wrestled with the hijackers and forced the plane to crash into the ground, killing themselves, but foiling what was believed to have been the hijackers’ plan to fly Flight 93 into the Capitol or the White House.
As Christians, we know that God can bring good out of evil. In Todd Beamer, the world witnesses a faith that held up in the extremity of fear. A faith that is even now comforting his widow and two young sons.
God answered Todd’s prayer and delivered him safely home… to Heaven.
Most of us will never have to demonstrate the type of courage Todd did in overcoming the terrorists on Flight 93, but most of us will find an occasion when we need to cry out to Jesus for help.
The world tells us to cope. Our culture offers many options, and some can be really destructive: shopping, eating, alcohol and drugs, even exercise and busyness. When we try to soothe our fears or fill our pain with activities or substances, we rob God of opportunities to comfort us, fight for us, and rescue us. We rob ourselves of opportunities to grow closer to God and experience Him intimately.
Ultimately, when times are really tough, the Lord waits for us to cry out to Him. Whether it’s a crisis of the moment or an ongoing circumstance of endurance, turn to the Lord. Ask Jesus to save you. You never know… it could be your last and greatest testimony.
What is going on in your life that prayer would help? Lean into these verses and be comforted?
“Help me, O LORD my God! Save me because of your unfailing love.” (Psalm 109:26 NLT)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“… The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Suggestion for Prayer
If you’ve been coping through life, rather than turning to the Lord, cry out to Jesus. Ask Him for courage and strength to face your circumstances, and then let Him be your Savior, not just “once and for all”… but everyday.
Jim Grassi, D. Min.