As a Christian, you are probably aware of the importance of prayer. What could be more important in a day than conversing with our Creator? In fact, St. Paul urged us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Yet, so often our other obligations – work, school, kids, spouses, cleaning, exercise, pets, errands – manage to win precedence over prayer. For those of us who haven’t quite mastered a way to balance it all but want to spend time in daily prayer, consider using your daily commute to work as a dedicated time of prayer. Here are some tips to inspire you:
Listen to Christian music. Don’t just have it on in the background – really listen to the words. Let them inspire you. Consider how the songs might relate to your life. Pray for anyone going through a difficult situation that might be described in the song. Pray for whatever the singer is praying for. Thank God for the gift of music. Sing along!
Listen to a talk. Get your hands on a CD of a Christian talk, such as those produced by Lighthouse Catholic Media. Christian speakers have so many powerful words of wisdom and important messages to share. Why not listen while you’re driving? Periodically pause the CD as a moment in the talk inspires you and allow yourself to pray about the message.
Pray for the people you pass. Every once in a while, I am hit by the fact that each car who passes me on the road holds at least one precious person with his or her own story, needs, or concerns. Offer up a prayer for the car in front of you or behind you. Pray for the man walking along the sidewalk or the kids waiting for the school bus. Praying for strangers can help you step outside your own world and remember how connected we are to other people.
Reflect on the beauty of the scenery. You are driving through the world God created just for us. From changing leaves to sparkling lakes to sunshine, it’s all God’s creation. Thank and praise God for the beauty of your drive. This might be difficult if you’re driving in bad weather, but try to find beauty in the precipitation and ask God to keep you safe!
Pray a Rosary. As a Catholic, I love the Rosary, but I don’t always remember to take the time to pray it. My 20-30 minute drive to work provides the perfect opportunity. Take those beads off your rear view mirror or use your fingers to count your prayers. It can be difficult to concentrate on such a reflective prayer while driving, but do your best to meditate on the mysteries as you pray.
Imagine God is your passenger. If you had a friend in the car with you, you would probably chat for much of the drive, right? Imagine God is that passenger – because, although He may not be physically sitting in the seat beside you, He is with you! Talk to him about your day – your worries, your successes, and your blessings. Have a conversation with Him – and take the time to listen.
Sit in silence. Remember, Elijah did not hear God’s voice in the powerful wind, the fire, or the earthquake – He heard God’s voice in the silence (1 Kings 19:11-12). Our days are so full of noise that we may rarely hear His voice when He is trying to tell us something. Turn off the radio and take the time just to listen for God.
Offer up your drive for a prayer intention. Perhaps you have a particular prayer on your heart. You could dedicate your whole drive to praying for that intention. You could make a sacrifice for that intention as you drive, such as leaving the radio off if you normally prefer to have it on. You could also spend the car ride conversing with God about your intention, or praying a Rosary for your intention.
Make your drive an exercise in patience. How many times in the course of a drive do you find yourself feeling annoyed, aggravated, or impatient? Take your drive as an opportunity to grow in patience. Pray for the person who cuts you off or tailgates you. Don’t get angry when the person in front of you is not driving fast enough for you. Pray that God increases your patience with every drive – if you’re anything like me, you could use His help!
Pray with your passenger. If you are not driving alone, consider asking your passenger to pray with you. Your passenger could read a Scripture passage and the two of you could reflect on it together. You could both offer up your daily intentions and pray for one another. Your passenger could lead your Rosary or chaplet. Prayer is beautiful when it is communal. After all, Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).
Not only will using your drive for prayer allow you to reconnect with God who you may have been neglecting, but it will also make a difference in your day. On your way to work, connecting with God will help to inspire and balance you. On your way home, connecting with God will help to calm and rejuvenate you.
The downside of this method is that driving still has to be your first priority (we don’t want to have to pray for your recovery from an accident!), so this method might make your prayer feel a bit distracted. However, hopefully getting in the habit of praying while you drive will also inspire you to find another time in your day to dedicate to prayer when you can give it your full attention.