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66 | A working theory: Can our prayers change the past?


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Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast I want to discuss my theory that our prayers can change the past. And also share a story from World War II, that seems to suggest they can.

Over the years, I have talked about some strange passages in the Bible, but certainly a statement that Jesus made in the Gospel of Matthew has to be at the top of the list when it comes to bizarre verses.

It’s when Jesus said:

18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:18 NASV)

The verse says that whatever we bind and loose on earth now, shall have been previously bound and loosed in heaven. The last part is in the past tense.

This statement is so bizarre that some Bible versions, like the NIV, remove the past tense and has the verse read whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and then add a footnote noting stating it’s in the past tense, because that is how the verse actually reads.

In other words, Jesus is implying that our prayers and declarations not only impact the future, they can also change the past.

And I recently came across a miraculous story from World War II, that may help understand this process.

But first we need to understand that the Kingdom of Heaven is not governed by time as we know it.

The Apostle Peter offers this strange explanation of time from God’s perspective:

8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. (2 Peter 3:8 NASV)

Since a day is like a thousand years to God, and a thousand years is also like one day, this verse is telling us that God exists in a timeless dimension where the present, past and future are all merged together as one.

There is no timeline going from the past to the future as we see it unfolding on earth. In the Kingdom of Heaven, the past, present and future all exist at the same time.

And I am not going to pretend that I completely understand this, but I recently came across an interesting story from World War II, that may be connected to Jesus’ strange statement.

In an interview with Dr. Steve Greene on his Greenelines podcast, author Peggy Joyce Ruth shared a story on the importance of praying scripture, in this instance Psalm 91.

Psalm 91 is a powerful declaration of God’s ability to protect us during times of trouble. You are probably already familiar with parts of it:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High    
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,    
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare    
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,    
and under his wings you will find refuge;    
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

But if we are understanding correctly what Jesus is saying in Matthew, when we pray for God’s provision and protection on earth, we may have the ability to impact the past in the Kingdom of Heaven.

And in her interview with Dr. Greene, Peggy Ruth shared this story from World War II of how the crew of an American bomber was spared after their plane ran out of gas and was forced to land on a Japanese occupied island in the Pacific Ocean.

As the bomber started running low on fuel, the crew immediately turned to their Chaplin who had been preaching on Psalm 91, and told him to start praying what he believed. The Chaplin did, and he began to pray Psalm 91 asking for God’s divine protection.

According to Ruth, the first miracle took place when they were able to land their bomber on an island beach without the Japanese even noticing it.

But they still had a problem. How were they to get off the island? This led to their second miracle.

Stranded on the island, the Chaplin and the crew continued praying Psalm 91.

A few hours later, in the middle of the night, they heard a grinding and crashing along the beach and when they checked out what was going on, they discovered a barge full of high octane fuel.

They were able to use their manual gas refuelling system to refill their bomber’s tanks and take off.

Of course, when the crew returned to base and reported what happened, everyone was a bit skeptical about the story. But then it was later discovered that the captain of an American ship transporting aviation fuel through submarine infested waters had ordered the crew to put the gasoline onto barges to make the ship less vulnerable to a fiery explosion if it was hit by a torpedo.

And, apparently one of those barges broke free. The ship was about 600 miles away from the island where the crew had been forced to land their bomber, and that barge of aviation fuel washed up on their beach was an answer to their prayer.

But here is the key: The answer to the crew’s prayer had already started its journey to the island weeks before they had been forced to land.

So, am I suggesting that when they started praying about their dire situation, God who is not controlled by time, went into the past and prepared a barge of gas to land on their beach?

Well, that may be one possible interpretation of what Jesus meant when the Lord said:

“Whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven”

But as I mentioned earlier, this is a just a working theory explaining one of Jesus’ more unusual statements in the Gospels.

READ: The Prayer That Delivered a World War II Miracle—and More

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