Living on a Wing and a Prayer

In today’s episode, Jeff connects an old World War II song to a popular gospel story, giving the phrase, “living on a wing and a prayer,” new meaning. Tune in for a reminder that we can always reach out to Christ when we’re at risk of losing hope.

What Is the Meaning of Living on a Wing and a Prayer?
  • The phrase comes from World War II about pilots landing a plane with on a wing and a prayer.
  • The phrase was taken up by songwriters Harold Adamson and Jimmie McHugh and their WWII patriotic song Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer, 1943 tells of a damaged warplane, barely able to limp back to base:

One of our planes was missing 
Two hours overdue 
One of our planes was missing 
With all its gallant crew 
The radio sets were humming 
We waited for a word 
Then a noise broke 
Through the humming and this is what we heard 

Comin’ in on a wing and a prayer 
Comin’ in on a wing and a prayer 
Though there’s one motor gone 
We can still carry on 
Comin’ in on a wing and a prayer 

What a show, what a fight, boys 
We really hit our target for tonight 
How we sing as we limp through the air 
Look below, there’s our field over there 
With just one motor gone
We can still carry on 
Comin’ in on a wing and a prayer

  • There is also a biblical meaning to this saying that is very positive.
Scripture for Living on a Wing and a Prayer
  • Mark 5:24-29 – “24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” 29 And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.”
    • What does she think she will get if she touches the hem of Jesus garment?


  • The tassels on his garment are sacramental
    • Numbers 15:37-39 – “37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the people of Israel, and bid them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of blue; 39 and it shall be to you a tassel to look upon and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to go after wantonly.”
    • They would tie the tassels so the windings and knots would equal 613 the same as the number of the commandments.
    • The corners were tied onto a prayer shawl (a tallit, above) or onto a tallit katan (below)


  • Malachi 4:2 – “2 But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall.”
    • The word wings in this passage is from the word ‘kanaph’ and the tassels are called ‘tzit tzit’
      • The tassels are tied to the corners of the ‘kanaph’
      • There are 4 corners so 4 wings on the garment
    • Because of this it was believed the garments of the Messiah would have healing
  • The woman was healed on a wing and prayer
    • The wings on the prayer shawl
Interesting Points About the Tzit Tzit
  • It is a Symbol of Authority
    • 1 Sam 24:3-11 – “3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe. 5 And afterward David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” 7 So David persuaded his men with these words, and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave, and went upon his way.8 Afterward David also arose, and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obeisance. 9 And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your hurt’? 10 Lo, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave; and some bade me kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, see the skirt of your robe in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the skirt of your robe, and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it.”
  • David has a chance to take revenge. He cuts off a piece of Sauls garment then he is smitten of conscience. This piece was the tzit tzit.
  • Blessing & Protection
    • Ruth 3:9 – “9 He said, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.’”
      • Ruth goes to her relatives Naomi & Elimelech and she says please take the corner of your garment (kanaph) and place it over me.
      • This meant to be under their protection.
    • The Rabbis of the first century believed that the tzit tzit of the Messiah would have healing virtue.
Take a Chance to Let Jesus Heal You
  • When the woman reached out to touch Jesus garment she was taking a chance. She, an unclean woman was not supposed to touch a clean person. In the state she was in she was not included. By touching Jesus tzit tzit she was stating that Jesus was the Messiah and he could heal her and include her in the covenant family. She was also recognizing that he was the fulfillment of the entire law.
  • We must also take a chance and trust in Jesus.
    • Even if we are told to stand back and not go to Jesus we need to.

More Great Resources from Jeff

Find free blogs, videos, and resources about Scripture and the Catholic faith at

Learn more about The Great Adventure Bible Timeline and preview any study for free.

For an easy way to transform your approach to reading Scripture, check out Jeff’s Bible Timeline Chart.

For an illustrated resource introducing God’s love story to children while helping them to understand how the Catholic Church is the body of Christ on Earth try The Great Adventure Storybook.

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