Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.”Ex 23:20 ESV
It’s summer travel time. For millions of people it’s time for a long overdue vacation, a trip to a family reunion, or just a quick get-away.
After perhaps months of planning, weeks of preparation and days of packing the car, it’s finally time to get out of town and GO somewhere on vacation. Or maybe you just decided last night to take a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip to the beach or a National Park for a day of hiking.
Whatever your travel and vacation plans may be, it usually takes a bit of planning and scheduling, especially if you need to make multiple reservations for travel, accommodations, and activities.
But I hope you will not forget the most important part of planning and preparing for your trip: prayer. Below I’ll share a prayer for anyone traveling.
Yesterday, my wife and youngest daughter left for a four week camping trip to northeastern Canada. They have been planning this trip for months, had multiple checklists of what needed to get done, campsite reservations to make, what to pack, places to go, and so much more. I am so impressed with all their prep work. Wow.
But a week or so ago, as they were starting to check the long term weather forecasts, my wife expressed the hope they would not get too much rain. And she asked me to pray about the weather on their trip.
Now, I’m not the sort of guy who is going to tell God when to make it rain or not rain. My prayers have been more along the line of God keeping them safe, guiding them, giving them all the wisdom to make good choices – that sort of thing.
Of course, my wife was praying as well, as the departure day approached. She came to feel more and more that God was in control of every detail of the trip and she could trust Him. It wasn’t so much about the weather as it was feeling His presence and care.
She loves to say, “God is large and in charge.”
That is a good mental place to be – especially when you’ll be camping for four weeks.
Of course, there are lots of other factors when you travel. Every vacation presents different challenges and different needs. But underneath them all is the spiritual fact that God is present to guide you, to protect you, to help you, to bless you.
And God also will use you to help and bless others you meet along the way.
God protected travelers in the Bible
There are lots of times in the Bible when God protected people who were traveling. I’ll share three. They all have to do with boats.
First, let’s look at Jonah. God told him to go to Nineveh to preach repentance, but Jonah headed the opposite direction by way of a boat across the Mediterranean Sea.
You know the story. A giant storm comes up and all those on board are afraid they will drown, but Jonah finally admits that his disobedience is causing the problem. He tells his travel mates to throw him overboard, which they do, and there is a great calm.
Now you may not think getting swallowed by a whale or big fish is the way you want God to protect you, but think about it. If you were out in the middle of the Mediterranean, how far do you think you’d be able to swim before drowning? The fish was actually the way God delivered Jonah from his predicament.
And once in the belly of the fish, Jonah finally prayed the prayer he should have prayed to start with: willing obedience to God’s direction. The fish returned him to land and Jonah carried out the task God had appointed for him.
This is a good lesson for when you are making travel plans. Are you obeying or disobeying God? Are you going where you want to or where He wants you to go?
Next time you are planning a vacation, ask God what to do.
Next, let’s look at the time Jesus and his disciples were in a similar situation on a boat during a storm. The storm didn’t seem to bother Jesus. He was asleep in the back of the boat, but his disciples were scared silly and absolutely sure they would all die. They were experienced fishermen who had probably seen lots of storms. It must have been a pretty bad storm.
Unlike Jonah, who had disobeyed God, Jesus lived in a state of continual obedience to God. This gave him the moral and spiritual authority to rebuke the storm. Jesus did not need to be inside a big fish to pray. He knew God was always in charge of His creation.
When you travel in a constant mindset of obedience to God, you will have the spiritual dominion you need in any situation.
Finally, let’s think about when Paul was put on a ship as a prisoner bound for Rome. He prayed continually. He even told those in charge of the ship they should not proceed with the journey, but they didn’t listen and went ahead with their plans.
A fierce storm engulfed the boat for days. All hope of survival had evaporated. Except for Paul. He prayed. He knew there was a bigger picture than just a bunch of guys on a boat in a storm. He knew God had a plan for him in Rome and he trusted God to protect him.
The ship wrecked on the island of Melita, but all the people were saved.
Okay, I know that a shipwreck doesn’t sound too encouraging, but God did save every single life on board.
When your travel plans don’t go the way you want, when your plane or bus or whatever is delayed, there may be something bigger going on. Recently my wife got bumped off a flight back from Albuquerque. But as it turned out, not only did she get a flight voucher for more than her whole flight cost, she met two potential clients she would not have if she had been on her original flight.
You never know what God has up His sleeve. Okay, God doesn’t literally have sleeves. But you know what I mean.
The main thing here is to pray before, during, and after you travel. In a previous post, Thoughts on Libya and Muammar Qaddafi, I share how I prayed on a trip to France in 1986 the day after American planes bombed Tripoli.
The media was full of predictions that Qaddafi would retaliate and shoot down American planes. I experienced fear in a way I never had. And I prayed in a way I never had.
How do you pray when you travel?
There are so many ways to pray. But the most effective way is to set aside your own preconceptions of how things have to happen and seek to be an instrument of God’s love and grace wherever you go.
When I was a kid, my parents would read the Psalm 91 to us whenever we took a long car-trip vacation. It was always comforting to remember that God was with us, protecting us from any problems. Oh there were problems sometimes, but God kept them from harming us.
So here’s my prayer for everyone traveling this summer – or anytime for that matter.
Prayer for Someone Traveling
Dear Heavenly Father-Mother God,
You and You alone have created the universe with a few simple commands. You hold the wind and the waves in Your fists. You ordain the seasons. You order the stars in their courses and the sparrows in their flight. In Your hand is every living creature, every mountain and tree, every river, lake and ocean. You are supreme in heaven and earth.
You have created men and women in Your image and likeness and given them dominion over all Your creation.
As these, your Children, travel the earth to visit friends and family and to experience Your creation, I call upon them Your blessing and protection.
Guide them as they journey. Show them the right path to take. Protect them from harm. Protect them from causing harm. Remind them they already have Your grace to bring to a situation when things don’t go the way they planned.
Open their eyes to see more of the manifestations of Your glory in the places they visit, the people they see, and the things they do.
Open their hearts to share more of the love You put there. Give them the love and courage to help others that you have put in their path.
Open their ears to hear Your guiding and/or warning voice.
Open their hands to be of service to You and respectful of Your creation.
Open them to a deep spiritual refreshment as they go forth from place to place, so that when they return home, they bring with them a renewed sense of purpose and the joy of life itself.
Give them the humility of gratitude for all the good You have bestowed on them, the lessons You have taught them, and the protection You have provided.
Let their lives of love be an example to everyone they meet on their travels.
And dear Father, bring them safely home, to a renewed sense of home, a deeper appreciation of home which doesn’t ever need to be escaped from, but brought with them wherever they go.
This prayer is just one of many ways you can pray when you or someone you know is traveling. Or even if you’re not going anywhere, you can pray for everyone who is.
Just think for a moment how many people are walking, hiking, driving, flying, or taking a boat somewhere today. Will you please join me in praying for them in their travels?
And if and when you are traveling this summer, you are in my prayers.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”Psalm 121:8
I’d love to hear how you pray when you travel.