Beyond Rocket Science

Let them exult! The scientists crowded in the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Maryland a few hours ago certainly deserved to be awash in superlatives. And why not!

Over thirteen years ago a small piano-sized spacecraft, christened New Horizons, blasted through Earth's atmosphere to begin its arduous journey to the outer reaches of our solar system. Nine years later in the summer of 2015 this electronic box of beeping instruments blew past Pluto at over 31,000 miles an hour. "The photos New Horizons beamed back then were the most detailed ever captured not just of the former planet, but the outer solar system" (

But deeper and deeper New Horizons kept probing. Until yesterday, New Year's Day 2019, this marvel of scientific prowess shot past (at a speed of nine miles per second) a mysterious object in the distant Kuiper Belt—a region of ice and rocks considered the final zone of the solar system. They named the object "Ultima Thule" (an ancient cartographer expression meaning "beyond the known world"). Beyond indeed—in fact 4.1 billion miles beyond Earth—the farthest reach any man-made probe has ever achieved.

"'We set a record! Never before has a spacecraft explored something so far away,' New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, said after the flyby today (Jan. 1). 'I mean, think of it. We're a billion miles further than Pluto, and now we're going to keep going into the Kuiper Belt'" (

On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse telegraphed the first official Morse code message from Washington D.C. to Baltimore. The reply simply read, "What hath God wrought." With data now transmitting from New Horizons at 1000 bits/second from 4.1 billion miles away, what would they be telegraphing today!

In a time of great crisis, Daniel undertook a three-week modified fast for prayer. Twenty-one days later Gabriel appeared to Daniel with these words: "'Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them'" (Daniel 10:12). Did it take three weeks of prayer for Daniel to be heard? No, the angel is clear, "You were heard instantly." But Gabriel goes on to explain that "a great war" had delayed his appearance to Daniel for "twenty-one days" until Michael the Prince arrived on the field of battle, freeing Gabriel to hurry to the side of Daniel (vv 13-14).

Over 4.1 billion miles? Considerably—though who can know how far it is from the throne room of God to your humble prayer closet? But what we can know this New Year is that the almighty Creator of this universe—who wrote the scientific laws that govern the cosmos and made New Horizons' discoveries possible—is the Intelligent Designer of prayer—the spiritual telemetry that instantaneously connects our thinking minds and His loving heart. No wonder the spiritual giants of the race have taught us to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Think of the angels unleashed all because you whispered your prayer to the ear of your Father.

As the story of Daniel reminds us, "The prayer of a human being can alter history by releasing legions of angels into the earth. If we really grasped this truth, we would pray with intensity, and we would pray constantly" (John Dawson Taking Our Cities for God 140, emphasis supplied). Because the promise is clear: "If you will find voice and time to pray, God will find time and voice to answer" (Ellen White Review and Herald April 1, 1890).

So wouldn't a fitting resolution for this New Year be to explore and experience "new horizons" in our prayer walk with God? After all like Daniel we too live in a time of "great war," we too need instant intervention. So why not learn to daily breathe a running conversation with God—your lips to His ears, His lips to your ears?

Prayer isn't rocket science—it's simply constant contact with mission control.