Traveler’s Prayer

This happened to me an hour ago.

I was just leaving my house in Kansas City, KS, headed towards Lawrence, when a police car raced in front of me, heading towards some unknown incident.

In my rearview mirror I could see an ambulance far behind me headed in the same direction. They were too far away for me to pull over, so I kept going. As I neared the underpass for I-435, I could see some commotion blocking the right lane.

I was one of a few cars that slowly passed by on the left, just as three other emergency vehicles converged on the scene. I can imagine that the road was closed shortly after I drove by.

A car was flipped upside down, sitting on its hood.

As best as I could tell, this car had driven off the overpass above and flipped its way down below. It looked bad. I only had a few seconds to look as I drove by, but there was shattered glass, and debris on the road. And did I see a person still inside there, trapped? I think so.

My first thought was, “I’m a pastor. Maybe I could help.” I thought about pulling off and seeing if there was anything I could do, but I had to get my car out of the way of the emergency vehicles, and before I knew it I was up the ramp and headed for the office.

So I did the one thing I knew I could do. I prayed. I prayed for the person(s) trapped in their car. I prayed for all the police and rescue workers who had responded so quickly. And, because of the week we’re in, I prayed that every last one of them, including any injured parties, would find themselves with reason to Give Thanks this weekend.

Millions of Americans are going to take to the roads over the next weeks, because they long to be with each other. Families reunite, friends gather. All this travelling is a good thing. But incidents like the one I saw today remind me that prayer is always a good idea.

I came across a traditional Jewish prayer, called the Tefilat HaDerech, or Traveler’s Prayer, that is recited before each journey.

“May it be Your will, Eternal our God and God of our ancestors, to bring us to our destination in life, in joy, and in peace, and then to bring us back home again in peace. Guard us from all enemies who may lurk along the way, and protect us from all dangers that may be coming our way. Bless the work of our hands, and may we find favor and grace in Your sight and in the sight of all those whom we meet on this trip. Please hear this prayer of ours, for You are the God who listens to our prayers.”

I love that prayer. It’s a reminder that God travels with us! Why not print off this prayer and keep it with you in your billfold or purse? That way, whether you’re the one traveling or you’re the one waiting at the destination, you’ll remember that God is with us every leg of the journey.

And when, God forbid, there’s an accident, you can still give thanks for “all those whom we meet on this trip…”

Especially those who come to your rescue.

Have a Great Week,


images by molinarius,

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