Sunday, June 04, 2006

Pray your rage away

    No one is exempt, apart from those who remain indoors all the time, from the growing rudeness and spitefulness on the streets and highways, which the newspapers have called “road rage.” It is a phenomenon not only of our growth, but of our growing vulgarity and decreasing sensitivity towards fellow man. It has the power to turn calm, respectable citizens into monsters of selfishness.

    Whether we engage in it or not, we are all almost daily witnesses to road rage and the related foolishness that comes from it. Signal lights too long, someone cutting into one’s lane too close, a sudden bad decision, an ill-advised attempt to gain an advantage in traffic—these are all very common motivators to strong feeling.

    In America, we have a keen sense for our rights, which we are taught (correctly or not) from birth. The smallest incursion on those rights starts the outrage reaction in us as reliably as the bell starts Pavlov’s dogs to drooling.

    I want to suggest a strategy for dealing with and managing road rage. It is highly effective, has long-term benefits, and can be taught at an early age: it is prayer. Praying can bring aid instantly. Praying focuses beneficial attention on the ethics of driving and other public conduct. Prayer is heard, and it comes with the highest possible recommendation.

    What should one pray, then? Well, for those who need a little help in articulating an appropriate prayer, let me suggest the following.

    For another driver overcome by impatience: “Lord, restore that driver to foresight and forbearance, so that all travelers may arrive at their destinations safely. Amen.”

    For someone who cuts into one’s lane injudiciously: “Lord, send me a calm spirit to deal with road conditions promptly and safely, and grant that driver wisdom and perspicacity in the balance of his journey. Amen.”

    For a driver behaving recklessly: “Lord, I ask that You immediately restore that driver to prudence. Grant that he and I shall be neither the victim nor the cause of any traveler’s misfortune. Amen.” (I am happy to provide further examples of prayer for more circumstances as needed.)

    In view of the recent Global Day of Prayer, June 4, I urge prayer not merely for prayer’s sake. Though often therapeutic, prayer is not therapy. By prayer I mean only prayer to the One True God, the God of Scripture, Who alone is fit and powerful to answer prayer, and without Whom prayer is idle chatter. This definition may seem unnecessarily narrow, but I suggest that since there are at least 100 million people in the U.S. who profess belief in the God of Scripture (many of whom reside in my city, Dallas), it is an excellent starting point in the struggle against road rage. And what if everyone began praying on the road? So many people offering heart-felt prayer to God on an important issue could well be the start of Something Else.

    Meanwhile, one final piece of advice: when you are driving on the expressway, by all means, pray; just don’t close your eyes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I really appreciate your addressing such a relevant issue in our lives. I think sometimes "road rage" is very much a "control issue" with people. People feel like they have to control their environment (in this case, the road) and when someone else "gets in their way" it feels like they're no longer in control and that's enraging. One thing that brings to mind for me is how we can CHOOSE TO DEFER to someone else, to consider them before ourselves. Instead of getting so angry at the mistakes others make or even their efforts to "exert control over others" on the road, we can choose (by the power and grace of God) to allow them to prevail over us for that moment in time by moving out of their way and then, as you suggested, praying for them as well as others who may be in their driving path. In all honesty, I realize there are moments when I am on the road and think, "Man this driver is really annoying, he thinks he owns the whole highway, I'm just gonna stay put, locking him in." That, of course, would only further enrage him and exposes my own heart in the matter. The fact is God is the only One in control. Confrontation with an angry
controlling person (whether verbal or by the choices we make while driving) are not fruitful. Courtesy, deference and prayer are good "rules for the road". Now that I've written all this, I have a feeling God will challenge me to put it into effect immediately. Even when it is challenging for us to practice, truth is truth. Thank you for your ministry.

June 4, 2006 at 6:21 AM  
Blogger Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

All week I have been dealing with the disgusting evil of the someone who has enough time and energy to go around the blogosphere to post disgusting comments--including on the Van Ryn blog for my old friend's daughter who was killed in a tragic accident--and mixed up with another victim in the accident. You may have heard of it on the news.

The Busey quote I received today about dealing with patience and enduring evil for the love of God is perfect.

I've been getting the quote of the day _for years_ and often put them on my blog.


June 4, 2006 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A really, really good time to pray is when we find ourselves working into a rage. It takes practice, because reaction is swift. Of course, that's a good subject for prayer too!

November 9, 2006 at 11:41 PM  

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