I was driving from Austin to Dallas recently, and I prayed my standard road trip prayer:
Lord, keep me alert, keep me safe, and keep me legal.
All three of those petitions have a back story.
Keep Me Alert
I was driving from Port Aransas to Austin, ready to move in to my dorm at the University of Texas. We moved to Port A between high school and the start of college, so I wasn’t familiar with the drive. I took a wrong turn, but knew it would still get me where I wanted to go.
Once I was sufficiently far away from any civilization (which doesn’t take long in South Texas), I spotted a family with a broken-down car on the side of the road. Feeling magnanimous, I decided to turn around and help them.
I wasn’t alert enough to spot another car coming over the hill, and I was a split second away from being dead. No real injuries sustained by anyone. Praise be to God. So now I pray Lord, keep me alert.
Keep Me Safe
I hate being late. I really hate being late when I’m teaching at church. I supremely hate being late when abnormal traffic is causing me to be late when I’m teaching at church.
The triple-whammy of lateness left me desperate to find a faster way to church. I tried to “flow like water” wherever traffic was moving, and so I found myself on a different road than normal. In my haste, I quickly glanced left, then right, then crossed the street.
I wasn’t safe enough to take the time to spot the dark green car coming my way. No real injuries sustained by anyone. Praise be to God. There aren’t words to describe how much I hate being late because I caused a car wreck. So now I pray Lord, keep me safe.
Keep Me Legal
It was starting to get late, and I was starting to get tired. I was returning to Austin from visiting a friend, and I took a shortcut (notice a trend?). Passing through an unfamiliar town, I saw a speed limit sign and thought to myself, “I’m glad I’m going the speed limit.”
Five minutes later…
Despite trying to go the speed limit, I missed not one but TWO signs in the small town. At least it wasn’t a *WHAM*. Praise be to God. So now I pray Lord, keep me legal.
Putting It Into Action
Jumping back to that Austin-to-Dallas trip, I noticed that I only had one hand on the steering wheel right after my short prayer. Since that could make me less alert and safe, I put both hands on the wheel. I had to repeat this choice about fifty times on the journey.
I also noticed that thin traffic was allowing me to set my cruise control. I was tempted to put it just 2 MPH above the speed limit, but since I just prayed about being legal I chose the exact speed limit.
This reminds me of the Lord’s Prayer. We pray “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” When Jesus sets up the pattern of prayer, he includes this zinger. Don’t pray for God to forgive when you are unwilling to forgive.
I can’t ask God to keep me alert and safe and legal if I’m unwilling to be alert and safe and legal myself. I can’t ask God to keep me healthy if I’m unwilling to be healthy myself. I can’t ask God to change me if I’m unwilling to change when he whispers to me that I’m slipping.
If you want to pray a prayer, will you listen when that nagging voice in the back of your mind points out how you’re not helping your own cause? That voice in your mind might sound like your mother, but often it’s God giving you the chance to place your own small piece of the puzzle.
- What are some of your prayers right now?
- When have you noticed that you’re not helping your own cause?
- When have you decided to partner with God to fulfill your prayer?