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Behind the Wheel

The Lord's Prayer Every Day

"Why are you doing that after I told you not to? OK, now try again. Good, good, no, no NO! What did I tell you! Eeish, try again. Why are you so anxious? Just relax. Take it easy!" screamed my Drivers' Ed teacher during our first in-car lesson. Interestingly, the first thing I prayed was, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." In praying this line from the Lord's Prayer I didn't find myself instantly forgiving him (as I alone can't do that), but I was grateful that the prayer pointed me in that direction.

Why is it that everyone from World Trade Tower victims to ordinary people going about their day pray this same prayer? Maybe it's because it's a very humble prayer about God working in us and not us working. Maybe it also excites people because it says, "Say goodbye to your life as you know it; there's something much better." I really don't know, but after a couple of months praying it, here's what I think of it so far.

Early in the prayer is: "Hallowed be thy name." In my driving lessons, it would be foolish to ignore the instructions of my teacher because of his years of experience. (The funny thing is that sometimes I do just that.) Just as with my driving teacher, I think this verse means to regard God's name as holy and not to shrug God off but to respect him in my daily actions. Hallowing God's name lets me see a basic holiness in all, because in all people, places and things God can be respected. Just as I frequently ignore what my driving teacher tells me, I usually don't hallow God's name, but I'm grateful for this prayer to remind me.

When I pray "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" I don't know what I'm praying about because the real implications are beyond me! I like how it suggests that a basic holiness permeates all people and things through which God brings forth his Kingdom. The cool thing is that God even uses someone like my driving teacher to bring forth his Kingdom. With our shortsighted eyes, this thought initially seems ludicrous because we usually don't think of any other opinion than our own. God is beyond that though and can use things and people we think are unusable. It reminds me of how the book of Genesis says that everyone and everything is created in the image of God even when it doesn't seem like it.

Next, the prayer asks God to establish the rules of the road instead of letting us each live by our own rules, which we usually do. "On earth as it is in Heaven" says "Set the world right God. Let us all submit to your glorious will." What first came to mind was the gates of Heaven! Then I said "no," and then thought of the earth, but that didn't cut it. I then brought to mind the universe, the galaxy and cosmos but it still didn't seem right, as a city's main road devoid of signs wouldn't seem right. I finally thought of Creation, a full featured main road in which all the signs were wonderfully in place!

I've really enjoyed praying for God to give people their daily bread. For some people this could mean asking God to give them patience and their wits on their unpredictable, infuriating, winding road so that they don't fall into road rage or unconsciousness. Every day is different so you never know what's going to hit you. I tend to pray for people going through hard times or people who I wish would plainly get their lives filled with Christ's life during the day. This has humbled me because I'm pretty self-obsessed and doing this gets the focus off my life and road rage, and onto someone else's.

At this point in the prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" rings in my mind as a police siren. Praying this helps me to see a few of my own trespasses in how I deal with people rashly and without love, community or considering the context. I don't want to crash into people and injure or kill them! Praying this part of the prayer in light of my frequent collisions has led me to seeing a bit of how my dangerous driving authentically hurts people, which definitely is a good thing to be aware of!

While driving, getting into a stint of road rage or trying to do things our own way has emotionally and physically destructive results. Praying "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" helps. It's exciting knowing God can lead us away from temptation and into more meaningful things including peaceful driving! I think being led by God implies being in tune with what the Spirit wants for us. I was thinking of all the temptations that I could be led into, and one stood out: I have a tendency to point out the wrongdoings of others for selfish satisfaction whenever I can, and so part of praying this is asking God to not lead me into that temptation. There's always a battle going on with the flesh and the Spirit, but usually we just see the temptation and the flesh, which is just plain not good!

On the road there's a higher law that includes road signs, knowing who has the right of way and being in tune with the varying road conditions to name a few. "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory" illustrates that we're praying the whole prayer because we obey this higher law of the road! It's like wiping my dirty windshield to see that the power, glory and kingdom are God's! I found myself praying, "About the power and glory, they're yours God. Clean our windshields so that we can see that the power and glory are yours as your road signs tell us." I find this part powerful and ultimately humbling, something you could pray eternally and it wouldn't go stale. It tends to come to mind whenever I do something people appreciate. It points me in the direction of not living in the glory I get for doing it, but rather living in self-forgetfulness because being concerned with glory hurts God. As long as there are cars it's pretty likely that road signs are always going to be present in some form. Christ really means it when he prayed "for ever" near the end! This provision, grace, forgiveness and love has never stopped.

Since I've started driving and praying the Lord's Prayer, both have become more natural to do in my daily rhythm. Although sometimes it can be an affair performed by ritual, it's very slowly becoming the paradigm through which I view the world and for the most part helps me see everything in prayer to God! The Lord's Prayer is just so detailed I don't hope to ever really know what it all means. I'm very grateful that Christ gave it to us because even in the most trying circumstances that we inevitably get into, it can point us in God's direction.

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