Flying Wallenda seeks glory of God while on Grand Canyon tightrope

(Photo: Reuters / Mike Blake)Daredevil Nik Wallenda walks on a two-inch (5-cm) diameter steel cable rigged 1,400 feet (426.7 metres) across more than a quarter-mile deep remote section of the Grand Canyon near Little Colorado River, Arizona June 23, 2013.

Nik Wallenda not only created a buzz this week on live television by walking a tightrope across a gorge near Arizona's Grand Canyon, but also by praying to Jesus while doing so.

The seventh-generation member of the famous aerialist family "The Flying Wallendas" walked 1,500 feet (472 meters) above the Little Colorado River in front of 13 million viewers on the Discovery Channel on June 23.

Astride a two-inch cable with wind whipping around him, Wallenda prayed, "Definitely whipping that cable .... Golly, wind. Go away, in the name of Jesus ... Thank you, Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, Lord ... Oh, yeah. That's my savior. That's Jesus. "

He prayed regularly during the 22-minute walk.

Wallenda also prayed with his family and popular televangelist Joel Osteen on site right before embarking on the high-wire event.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Wallenda, aged 34, said he performs in order to glorify God.

"It's important to me that every time before I do any of these big events, I get in a circle and pray with my family and I always say, 'Give God the glory, let God get the glory, let God get the glory out of what I'm doing'," he said.

"That is very, very important to me that they don't praise Nick Wallenda, but that they praise God for these amazing abilities in order to glorify God."

The American high-wire artist holds several world records. He became the first man to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope in June, 2012.

The Wallendas have been performing since the 1700s. Karl Wallenda, Nik's grandfather, pioneered the family's high-wire act in the early 1900s.

He worked for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

"He created the seven-person pyramid on the wire and walked over just about every stadium in the United States at that time," said Wallenda.

"He really created the legacy and I really kind of live in the shadows of him. Everything I do is to try and pay tribute to him because I wouldn't be where I am if he didn't pave that road and pass on that 'mantra' that I live by, which is 'never give up'."

Nik Wallenda was raised in a Christian home, and intended to go to Bible College and eventually become a pediatrician.

"But I struggled," he said, "because I had so much passion for performing," he told CBN.

When the Wallenda family was invited to perform a seven-person pyramid, a stunt which killed two family members in 1962, Nik decided to participate.

He thought it would he his "final goodbye," but the media coverage got his attention.

"I decided 'you know what, I am going to carry this on, but I am going to carry it on in a big way, and I am going to be sure to do big events that the whole world knows about," said Wallenda. "That was really my mindset from that point on."

Wallenda told CBN that he sees his talents as a gift from God.

"I think that God has given me a very unique talent and I can use that to bring glory to his name."

Wallenda said that while he understands "it's hard for people to relate to someone who walks on a cable the size of a nickel a thousand feet in the air," they can be inspired to pursue their own dreams through his work.

"I would walk across Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon if no one was there, " he said,

"It's about fulfilling a dream. It's important to me that people are inspired by what I do. They see it as an inspiration that their dreams are possible to."

Wallenda sees his tightrope walking as a metaphor for the Christian life.

"I was walking across Niagara Falls and there were raging waters on my left, and below me waters were boiling underneath and mist flying in front of me.

"Instead of focusing on all those problems I had around me, I focused on the other end. It's very similar to our walk with Christ. It's not always rosy. It's not always easy. Life is not always a dream. But with God, all things are possible and there is that light at the end of the tunnel."

Even though he has a strong faith, Wallenda said he believes it his God-given talent and training, not divine intervention, which keeps him on the wire.

"What I do is extremely calculated," he said.

"I don't think God holds me on the wire as I am walking across But God has given me a unique talent and it is up to me whether or not I train properly for that."

Wallenda next tightrope walk will be one between the iconic Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in New York.

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