Newton’s Third Law of Motion

Sitting under a balancing rock, Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, California
Sitting under a balancing rock, Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, California

Newton’s Third Law of Motion is simple: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  In other words, when you push against a wall, the wall resists you with an equal and opposite push (that’s why the wall doesn’t fall over!)  If you brace yourself against the floor as you push, the bracing and gravity will keep the force exerted by the wall from pushing you back.  But if you were on roller skates, the force you exert on the wall will reciprocate by pushing you backward across the floor!

Wall supports at Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
Wall supports at Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico

We can be very thankful for this law.  When we’re hiking, we push our feet against the ground of the trail.  The friction and force exerted back at us by the ground mean we move up and forward instead of slipping and staying in one place.  When we lean against a tree to rest, the tree pushes back – meaning that we don’t push the tree over or sink right through it.

Fisheye effect on trees in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park, California
Fisheye effect on trees in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park, California

Sometimes when we pray, we can experience this “equal and opposite reaction” effect.  The thing that we are praying for manifests itself in our own lives, not because we were praying for ourselves, specifically, but because of the “equal and opposite” reaction.

Looking down on Letchworth Gorge from the Genesee Valley Greenway, Letchworth State Park, New York
Looking down on Letchworth Gorge from the Genesee Valley Greenway, Letchworth State Park, New York

For example, if you’re constantly praying for others to be blessed (1 Timothy 2:1), it’s very likely that you will be blessed, as well.  Or if you’re praying for a friend to have a clear head and clear thoughts, it’s not unlikely that you will end up with clear thoughts, too.  It’s just another way that the laws of nature are also manifested in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Walking into the slot canyon in Pioneer Park, St. George, Utah
Walking into the slot canyon in Pioneer Park, St. George, Utah

This “equal and opposite” effect is one of the reasons why we don’t want to become so focused on ourselves and what God has promised us that we forget to pray for others.  I’ve seen too many Christians get upset when someone else is being blessed in the way they want to be blessed.  I get the injustice angle: “God, You’re giving it to them; why can’t You give it to me, too?”  If these Christians could have rejoiced in their friends’ blessings and even prayed that their friends’ would receive the blessings that they, themselves, want, there’s a chance that the “equal and opposite reaction” effect would bring the fulfillment of their promise much faster.

Turret Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Turret Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

This effect is also why we don’t want to pray negative things over people – Christians or otherwise (Romans 12:14).  It’s highly likely that the negative things you pray will push back and happen to you, as well!  For example, I heard a story of a church group who prayed negative things for the bar next door to the church.  When the bar burned down, only prayers and a miracle kept the church from being burned, as well.  I wonder if the church leadership had not prayed so many negative things if the church would have escaped with much less harm.

Clouds around Mt. Hood, Oregon, from Owl Point
Clouds around Mt. Hood, Oregon, from Owl Point

If you want a specific blessing in your life, pray for those who are seeking it, too.  It’s not a substitute to seeking God for the blessing, but the “equal and opposite reaction” effect may very well make the blessing show itself in your life, as well.