How many times have you read 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – the admonishment to pray without ceasing – and thought they had a lot more free time to pray when Paul wrote that letter? After all, they had no cars, no hectic schedules of running from meeting to meeting or dashing to kids’ games and practices, no crazy commute to DC or Baltimore … right?
So how do we accomplish this in our world today?
One way is to take advantage of that commuting time!
How do you start the drive? Do you plop into the car, tossing things onto the seat, turn the key in the ignition and pull out of the driveway as though you are leaving a pit stop at the Indy 500? Then let me suggest a different approach: as you get in, thank God for your car, and ask Him to watch over you as you drive, allowing you to make wise decisions and protecting you from poor decisions – yours and those of others. Ask him to guide you around snarls and safely through detours and construction. Thank Him in advance for coming along for the ride.
What kind of atmosphere is in your car? What’s on the radio or CD player? Is it all news and traffic? Or is it something uplifting? Turn the dial to WRBS (95.1) or WGTS (91.9) and listen to some news and traffic along with Christian music and chatter. Pop in a CD of Christian music or Scripture. Take advantage of the commute to create calm. (On the train or Metro? Put some Christian music or Scripture on your iPod.) Take the opportunity to listen to a podcast of a sermon.
While you are driving, pray for the other drivers. Some will need special prayer – that guy who weaves through all the lanes, the lady who made a right lane exit directly from the left lane – so pray that they will get safely to their destination and leave no collateral damage. And pray for all the people around you to get safely to where they are going.
There are opportunities to pray for specific people as well. One day I was sitting at the intersection of 175 and Tamar Drive in Columbia. As we waited for our signal to turn green, the lady in the next car was beating her fists against the steering wheel and shouting. Her windows were closed so I couldn’t hear, but her face showed the strain of her anger or frustration. Was she shouting into her phone (on speaker of course) or just shouting? I have no idea, but I sat there and prayed for her because God knew what she needed. It sure looked like she needed prayer.
Look around. Is there a driver near you with sadness or anger on his/her face? Is there a homeless person standing on the corner? Do you drive in the city and see people rushing along sidewalks? Are you passing a cyclist? Pray for all of them – pray for each of them. Perhaps pick one or two specific people that you see, and then pray generically for all of those you pass.
Coming to a dangerous intersection? About to take an exit? Pray for safety. Pray for those others about to cross the intersection. Pray that there will be polite drivers allowing you to merge safely into the flow of traffic.
And how many times have you had to pull over to allow emergency vehicles to pass? Or had to sit in stalled traffic due to an accident? Are you sitting there fuming? Or are you praying for the victims, for the EMTs, the police officers? Pray there are no residual fender benders as people wait or try to turn around in the middle of the backup.
Going through construction? Pray for those workers that they are safe as they work, and thank God for the improvements that will result.
If you are heading to work, begin praying for your day, your co-workers, any clients or customers you might be meeting that day, for projects or tasks that await you. Give them to the Lord and ask Him to guide you and protect you.
If you are heading home, pray for the family, for dinner, for whatever it is that awaits you when you get there. Pray for rest, or the energy to accomplish household responsibilities.
Are you getting the idea? The possibilities are endless once you begin to look. No matter what your commute entails, there are prayer opportunities. Some days you might just need that time – time alone with God, without family and co-workers and phones – to pray over a particular situation or concern. Use that time to fill your heart and mind with God’s Holy Spirit.
Please be sure to let me know how it impacts your commute and your prayer life.
Let’s change the old slogan and instead of “Happy Motoring” let’s call it “Prayerful Commuting”!!