Did you think to pray?

“Ere you left your room this morning, when your heart was filled with anger, when sore trials came upon you…did you think to pray?”

This old hymn beloved of many Christian churches including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suggests to us sample situations in which it would be well to pray. These represent an infinite number of possible situations including the famous foxhole bullet ducking moments in which it is reputed there are no atheists. Indeed in our Church and, I’m sure many others we are admonished to keep a prayer in our hearts always.

Some insightful wit said, “There are two kinds of people in the world; those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t.” That’s more Zen than my circuits can handle. But likewise, I suppose there are two reasons for praying: one, to help us get out of pickles and two to help us avoid getting into them in the first place. Jesus included these in his famous prayer when he said, “deliver us from evil,” and, “lead us not into temptation.” (Better translated, let us not be led into temptation.)

I got delivered from evil once through screaming the shortest prayer of my life. The answer came even quicker. Late one night cruising across the salt deserts of western Utah at 75 miles per hour, I hit black ice. Instantly the truck slipped out of control angling southwest, west, northwest and back again at the whim of my ice skating tires. Dick and Denis my two singing buddies in The Three D’s were blissfully asleep, or climbing the walls of the camper in the back of the truck. No time for formalities I just hollered out to the Lord for help. He heard me, centered the truck wheels on the highway at the exact moment I hit dry pavement again, and we continued westward (at a much slower pace, and with some quivering of the steering wheel under my white knuckles.)

The save us from temptation aspect of prayer’s beneficence happened to three of our sons. They related the tale at our last family conference. I opened the door to confession by assuring them that the statue of limitations had kicked in, and they could speak freely about their boyhood adventures. They did.

Their mother and I were out of town, they said, and the car needed to be driven. So they took it upon themselves to do the job. The only problem was they were too small to pass for legal. So they enlisted one of their brothers who was taller, and maybe even old enough to look legal to a passing policeman. The older brother was willing, but apprehensive. They backed the car into the street. Then the driving boy had second thoughts. Vaguely the potential catastrophe of what they were doing settled upon him. Fortunately, he knew where to go for support. He said, “I think we’d better say a prayer.”

“A prayer? We’re rebels for crying out loud. You don’t pray about a thing like this,” they said.

He convinced his younger brothers. They prayed, then he put the car into gear, and slowly drove—back into the car port.

“So when life gets dark and dreary…” as the song says, or when it gets too reckless and exciting as the song does not say, then, as the song says, “Don’t forget to pray.”