by Marilyn Nutter
When I responded to the doorbell, my grandsons greeted me with broad smiles. Their pile of belongings gave the impression they had planned for a week, not overnight. A suitcase contained their pajamas, a toothbrush, and a change of clothes; one canvas bag held two favorite blankets; and another overflowed with stuffed animals. Multiply that times two. It was just one night, but each boy made sure he packed his essentials.
Adults pack essentials when they travel too: toiletries, a hair dryer, and clothes to layer due to an uncertain weather forecast. But even when we don’t travel distances, in Colossians 4:2, the apostle Paul offers three essentials to travel through our day with hope and confidence.
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. (Colossians 4:2 NLT)
- Paul tells us to devote ourselves to prayer.
Devote: Not a quick prayer for a blessing, or a short request, but a call to be constant and loyal. He says if you want to travel well, be committed to prayer. We don’t go into seclusion and disappear from the world, but we make prayer a lifestyle, an ongoing dialogue, as regular as breathing. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV), he emphasizes “pray without ceasing.” No start and no end. Pray about everything—big and little—always, no matter where we are.
Why does he say it is essential? It’s a privilege—coming right into God’s presence, the One who made me, knows me, and loves me most. Prayer is necessary if we want to travel well. It’s our avenue to receive wisdom, mercies, and encouragement. It’s also a way to intercede for others—family who live hundreds of miles away, friends we haven’t seen in years but connect with on social media, and troubling concerns on the news. It’s a way we care for people by praying for and about them.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
- Paul adds a second essential: be alert.
We tend to close our eyes in prayer, but prayer opens our eyes.
Prayer alerts us to stop a course of action or say “no” to a decision. Yellow lights offer caution to carefully proceed on a path, being sure we are prepared to move forward. Do I have all the information I need? Have I called out for insight as Proverbs 2:3 warns us? Do I need other resources? Am I personally ready? Do I have a green light to move forward?
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)
- Whether we fold our hands, hold hands with one another, lift our hands in an offering of praise or heart-wrenching plea, or place our hands on a steering wheel as we pray without ceasing, prayer includes the third essential: gratitude.
Prayer leads us to be thankful. Praying about our work reminds us that work is a gift and a sign of health and strength. A prayer walk through a neighborhood invites gratitude where we see our routine surroundings as breathtaking colors and the provision of a home. Looking in the rearview mirror reminds us of God’s faithfulness in challenges, or protection from taking the wrong path. Prayer takes us to thankfulness to God as our Source, the One who has our best interests in His heart.
Prayer is more than a few words saved for an emergency, spoken at a Bible study, or before eating a meal. It has the potential to take us beyond being indecisive, frazzled, or complacent. Prayer draws us to contentment and safety. When we develop the habit and mindset of devotion to prayer and develop alertness for God’s voice, we learn how to travel safely with hope, confidence, and gratitude for the life scenes we experience.
How have you found these road trip essentials, essential?
Contributor: Marilyn Nutter is the author, with April White, of Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart. She has written three devotional books and is a contributor to several online sites and print compilations including Power for Living, Focus on the Family, and Hope-Full Living. In her life’s seasons, she has met God’s faithfulness and clings to Lamentations 3:22-23.
Visit www.marilynnutter.com to read about weaving hope and purpose in ordinary and challenging days.