How can one pray for a past event? It is over and done. Or pray for a person no longer living? How can we PRAY BACKWARD?
Our supernatural God is Eternal. He is outside of time, so He already knew from all eternity the prayer that I would be praying right now. He can receive and apply my request to whatever period in time and history and future to which it is relevant. God hears all of our requests at the same time. His “switchboard” is never jammed or confused, and no one ever gets a wrong number.
It is rational and theological to ask for something to have happened in the past, as well as to ask for something to happen in the present or the future. I can pray a prayer that transcends time: “If it is Your will, Lord, may such-and-such-person have put his faith in Your Son before the person died.” With such a prayer I am asking for the Holy Spirit’s action toward someone’s interior saving faith at the time the person lived. It is as if I prayed it for him at that time, not at the present time. God operates in an eternal dimension.
If that is true, doesn’t it mean that I can pray for my family, my relatives, my ancestors, my friends, all of whom already lived and died, including people in history whose names I may know? If we can speak a name in prayer, it is a strong identifying factor, although God knows the intentions of our hearts. It doesn’t matter if the persons lived in a different era of time. It would seem that we can pray that transcending-time BACKWARD PRAYER for them.
However, my prayer would be irrational and not to be prayed, if I know it was not God’s will since I already know how an event turned out. I can’t pray against God’s will. I can’t change any person’s free will and force him or her to believe anything. I can’t pray to change exterior events that have actually happened already. I can’t believe on someone else’s behalf or in their place.
With the same rationale, doesn’t it mean that I can PRAY FORWARD a prayer that transcends time for persons in the future, even for those who have not yet been born? Can I pray for my descendants who will live in generations to come, if Christ delays His Second Coming? (As a personal example, both my late husband and I had paternal grandmothers who were known to have PRAYED FORWARD for their offspring through the generations to come that they might receive the Christian faith.) The several generations of our families that have come on the scene since then are reaping the harvest of their fervent prayers in accepting the Faith of our Fathers (and Mothers).
None of these transcending-time prayers are any different than praying for people who are living at this time on earth. Those who are in Christ are one Body forever — past, present and future in Heaven.
Prayer is beyond space and time and doesn’t diminish in power even after I leave this mortal life and cross over into Life Eternal. The prayers I have prayed while I was on earth remain in the heart and plan of God forever. They don’t vanish as a vapor. They rise like incense to His Throne. When I pray, I release my request into the heavenlies like a helium filled balloon; the difference is that my prayer is indestructible and instantly reaches its destination to God. I can PRAY FORWARD and affect future generations by my prayers for my heritage.
At the same time, I could be the recipient of the prayers of Christians in generations past whose prayers also have not diminished but remain strong and efficacious. Members of God’s family among my ancestors may have PRAYED FORWARD and their prayers have landed on me!
How awesome to think that prayers recorded in the Holy Scriptures, even the powerful prayers of the Apostle Paul for the Church in future generations, affect us all today—and I am a part of that Church at present! Paul PRAYED FORWARD! Most of all, the High Priestly prayer of Christ Himself: “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.” (John 17:20) That’s me! I have believed through the words of the apostles and their anointed successors from that time to the present! It’s almost unbelievable—all that Jesus prayed in that prayer is meant for me too! Would His Heavenly Father refuse to answer the prayer of Jesus as He PRAYED FORWARD?
Are not our prayers perhaps too meager and lacking in boldness and imagination and faith as we approach our Almighty, Majestic, and Powerful God through the Name of Jesus, as His Son taught us? We take prayer too lightly, too casually. Didn’t Jesus invite us to ask, seek, knock and request anything with His sure promise that if it is His will, we will receive? What are we waiting for?