In “Skywire Live With Nik Wallenda,” which aired Sunday (June 23) on Discovery Channel, fans who saw high-wire walker Nik Wallenda stride carefully and successfully on a two-inch-thick cable 1,500 feet in the air over Arizona’s Colorado River Gorge, not far from the Grand Canyon, heard what amounted to a 22-minute prayer.
Before the walk, Wallenda and his family prayed with noted preacher Joel Osteen (see above). Then, wearing no safety harness and buffeted by powerful winds up on the wire, the 34-year-old husband and father of three spoke occasionally to his own father via an earpiece, but spent most of the rest of his time praising and thanking Jesus Christ, asking help with the swaying wire and to stay calm during the traverse.
Speaking to Zap2it before the walk, Wallenda — who also has released an autobiography, called “Balance: A Story of Faith, Family and Life on the Line” — talks about the role of faith in his life and career.
“Faith plays a huge role in my life,” Wallenda says. “In my career, other than it is a huge piece of my life, I don’t feel like it plays a huge role in my career. One of the questions I get often is, ‘Are you testing God when you walk the wire?’ Well, my answer to that is, ‘No, to be testing God would be to get on the wire and have no training, no experience whatsoever.’
“I believe God’s given me a unique talent, but it’s up to me to train properly and prepare properly. I’m not stuck up there because of Him.”
Asked if there is a spiritual component to being up in the air, Wallenda says, “There is. There is. You’re in a place where no one’s ever — people say, ‘How do you stay calm?’ ‘Often, I talk to God,’ I say, ‘and that keeps me calm. Who else am I going to talk to up there?’ Very often, I’m not connected to my dad or reporters. I have a conversation with God.”
In terms of getting a response, Wallenda feels that God isn’t the only one with him up there. He also gets some help from his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, who perished while on a wire walk in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1978, the year before Nik was born.
“I feel like my great-grandfather is watching everything I do from Heaven,” Wallenda says. “I get that presence. I feel that he’s right there with me, that he’s proud. So, in that sense, that’s a spiritual response, I think, to what I do.”
Wallenda also says his own pastor doesn’t discourage his daredevil exploits.
“He’s at most of my events,” he says. “He’s a close friend of mine. But no, hey, he thinks it’s great. He thinks it’s awesome, what I do. That’s a good question, ‘Does my faith tie into it?’
“I feel like there’s a will for all of our lives, and the most religious people in the world can be killed tomorrow. Was that because they weren’t religious enough? No. When it’s your time, it’s your time. That’s just the reality.
“In my opinion, not to get too religious, if God wanted us to be robots, we would be robots. We all have our own will and make our own choices.”