The Spiritual Discipline of Driving
Yes, you read the title correctly. This month I want to give you, especially those of you with significant commutes, some tips on how to turn your driving into a spiritual discipline. This will help you to better partner with the work of the Holy Spirit as you are conformed into the image of Jesus, as well as help cultivate an ongoing sense of God’s presence with you as you drive. Paul reminds us that whether we eat or drink, we can do so in a way that will honor God or won’t. I believe this is true of driving too! Furthermore, I believe if Brother Lawrence (Practicing the Presence of God) had a car he would have driven in the manner I am suggesting.
Now please don’t fret. I am not talking about driving at the speed limit or coming to a full stop at stop signs (both excellent practices), but instead I am going to suggest a variety of prayer practices you can easily incorporate while you are driving short or long distances. You can do these prayer practices as you speed down the freeway or roll through yet another stop sign (both of which, by the way, are illegal and dangerous for you and others).
As you read through the list below you may feel a bit overwhelmed but do not worry. The point is not to incorporate every one of these prayer practices into your driving experience but to choose a couple that resonate with you. Also, to make all this easier, you will notice that each prayer practice has a built-in prompt…orange cones, a stop sign, a siren…that will serve to remind you to pray. In fact, after you have read through the list you may come up with your very own ideas regarding how to make your driving time into a time of spiritual formation, renewal, and encounter with God.
The type of prayer I am suggesting you make use of is called a ‘flash prayer’. These prayers are extremely brief in nature, lasting as little as a few seconds, can be done verbally or silently, and are usually a result of an immediate situation or awareness. Flash prayers can be prayers of supplication, intersession, thanksgiving, and confession.
Driving Flash Prayers
Stop Light/Stop Sign Prayer - use your time to give thanks to God for who God is and what God has done and is doing in your life
Left Turn Arrow Prayer – pray for those you know who need to turn their lives in another direction
Letting People In Prayer – pray that those you let pull in front of you would pass on the kindness to others
Fire Truck/Ambulance Prayer – pray that those individuals who serve our community would be safe, caring, and unhardened by what they see
Police Car Prayer – pray for the police officers’ safety, wisdom, and marriages. Many police officers’ marriages end in divorce.
Siren Prayer – pray for those who are in danger or need help, as well as those who are responding to the situation
Orange Cone Prayer – pray for the safety of those who fix our roads
People Picking Up Trash on the Side of the Freeway Prayer – pray that each person may be able to turn their life around and learn from their mistakes. Also, pray for their families
Government Plates Prayer – pray for our political leaders, city, county, state, country and especially our president
Stop and Go (Rush Hour) Prayer – pray for patience and the other fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control)
Sunrise/Sunset Prayer – thank God for the gift of life, your senses, beginnings and endings, beauty, etc.
Church Bus/Van Prayer – pray for the pastor(s), ministry leaders, youth workers, children’s ministry workers, etc. in your church
That (_____) Just Cut Me Off Prayer – pray you will be slow to judge, quick to forgive and keep short accounts of wrongs suffered
Gas Pump Prayer - pray that you would be filled with the love of God and that something of Jesus would be seen in you and experienced through you throughout your day
Getting In and/or Out of Your Car Prayer – pray for those in your own life, family, friends that need your prayers, those special individuals God has place in your life
Additional Driving Practices
Silence and driving: turning off your phone, your radio, mp3 player, and CD player gives you the space and opportunity to be still and know God
Listening and driving: choose what you listen to as you drive. Listen to books on tape, (ChristianAudio.com has a wide selection of books on tape including Spiritual Classics. I have listened to ‘The Imitation of Christ’ and ‘Practicing the Presence of God’ on CD), download pod casts from your favorite speaker, get the Bible on CD, etc. Another idea is to put together your own mix of music that fosters in you an inner connection with God. Be creative. The idea is to be intentional regarding what you are allowing to enter your mind and heart and seek to redeem the time you spend driving.
I encourage you to take a couple of the above prayer practices and/or suggestions out for a test drive during the next month and see if it makes a difference in who you are as a follower of Christ and in how you view God, those around you, and your circumstances. Please feel free to make these your own, tweaking them in ways that you may find more helpful. Don’t be afraid to add your own prayer practices, things that may speak more uniquely to your less than stellar driving habits. Remember the goal is not to do these prayer practices just for the sake of doing them but rather to use them to put your love for God and others at the center of your driving experience.
At the end of the month explore how these prayer practices have impacted your heart, the level of your anxiety, frustration, love, care, patience, etc.
What fruit of the Spirit have these prayer practices cultivated in you?
How are these prayer practices helping you to own God’s love for you and in turn to love God and others?
How are these practices affecting your sense of God throughout your day?
If you stick with these practices you may very well discover that your ‘driving flash prayers’ will start seeping into the rest of your day. One day in the not so distant future you may be standing in line at the supermarket while the person in front of you is checking out, using coupons, questioning prices and paying their bill with coins and, believe it or not, you just might find yourself spontaneously praying – what a glorious day that would be!
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