Praying Backward

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.   Proverbs 9:9

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDespite cutting back, I did step forward and volunteer to coach Jocelyn’s Destination Imagination (DI) team. DI is a problem solving program with a bit of engineering and drama thrown in. My favorite pat of DI is Instant Challenges (IC).

During an IC, the kids are presented with a problem. In less than eight minutes, they have to share ideas, come up with one course of action, work together to carry it out, and solve the problem in the process. As the coach, I can’t help them at all. Where I come in is in the debriefing piece.

After every IC, I help the kids process the experience. We don’t look at how they succeeded or how they failed. That’s too all or nothing. At the young ages of six, seven and eight, we don’t want them judging themselves so harshly.

Instead, we look at what they did well, and how they could have done things differently. It’s far more positive and life giving to realize there’s always new things to learn from our mistakes. Additionally, we talk about the other ways they could have trouble shot the problem so they see there are usually multiple ways to solve one problem.

I’ll also use the debriefing time to teach the kids new skills and concepts. I’ll lead them to the realization that when they fold whatever material they’re given to work with (paper or tinfoil for example), it becomes stronger and supports more weight. I help them understand that if they’re only given four address labels to construct a bridge, ripping them in half suddenly gives them eight. I’ll point out that in their little play, they talked over each other, and left one little boy out altogether because he’s quieter than the rest.

There are recurring themes and tasks in IC’s. The goal of debriefing is to better prepare them for future Instant Challenges where there will be thin materials and minimal adhesives provided, and the requirement to include everyone in the skit. Without debriefing, they will continue to fall into the same traps.

As always, I see a correlation to my own life, and where I’ve missed the mark. I do try to pray for God’s grace and guidance to face and solve the daily chaos that, in essence, continues to be my Instant Challenge. But I only use forward prayer. I pray for God to fill me up, in advance, with the patience and fortitude I need to face what lies ahead. I never think to use backward prayer.

I never sit with God after the chaos and pray. I never ask Him to show me what I did well, and how I could have done things differently. Instead, I focus on how I lost my cool, and I wallow in the feelings of failure. Then I fall into the same exact trap the next time I face a similar IC in my life because I haven’t figured out a new way to approach the problem.

I need to take a page out of the DI book and debrief with God always. I want to use backward prayer to ask God what I need to learn from the previous day’s chaos. I need Him to reveal to me the gifts that challenge had for me, gifts that I can carry forward to better prepare me for the next time.

Life’s challenges have recurring themes. I want to pray backward constantly. If I can learn to avoid the same old traps, I’ll make much more progress in this journey of learning and growing.

Questions For Reflection:
     * Do I recognize that every mistake I make is God inviting me to learn and grow?
     * Do I ever pray backward, asking Him to teach me how I could have done things differently?

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8 thoughts on “Praying Backward

  1. Smart thinking, Claire! It’s easy to fall into the same pattern, but your method sounds like
    solutions are possible. I need to learn that!! Love you!


  2. You can not change the past but you can try to influence the future. I try to live by this. If I do not check in beforehand, have a great Thanksgiving Claire. Give your Mom a hug and kiss for me.


    • I have to admit my spiritual director put the bug in my ear about praying backwards. Oddly enough, it was right when I was debriefing with the DI team so the timing was perfect (which is no surprise when it comes to God). So all credit goes to my spiritual director, and the Holy Spirit working through her. 🙂


  3. “I never sit with God after the chaos and pray. I never ask Him to show me what I did well, and how I could have done things differently. Instead, I focus on how I lost my cool, and I wallow in the feelings of failure.” Boy does this ring true for me…. Great post. Thank you!


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