Not having a car, I travel on public transport a lot, particularly buses. Waiting in the cold or wet for a bus, especially when I think I might be late for meeting someone is (slightly embarrassingly) one of the times I most feel moved to pray. Please God, let the bus come. Which seems a bit daft. Not that God can’t influence the buses; an all-powerful deity probably has authority over even the 11A/C in Birmingham. But I think that frustrations with buses are part of human existence from which Christians are not exempt. In the same way as it rains, we get wet; buses are delayed and we get cold/ frustrated/ late.
While I believe God can handle my daftest request, praying about buses makes me feel particularly shallow. The answer (or absence of an answer) is so immediate that I don’t have time to forget that I prayed for something, but while I manage to not blame God when the bus doesn’t come, I don’t particularly praise Him when it does come. Which makes the whole praying thing pretty pointless.
When I’m feeling more spiritually sound, I pray the ‘why prayer’ instead; especially about things I’m not sure are really right to pray for. That is, I think about why I would request something from God and pray for that instead. For example, if I want the bus to come so I don’t disappoint someone by being late or don’t want to get annoyed and grumpy, I pray that God will help me not disappoint someone by being late or that he would help me not be annoyed and grumpy. This perhaps changes my attitude and takes the focus away from the random, less important thing. I think God is more likely to intervene with human beings and attitudes than with traffic, parking spaces, bus arrivals and weather. Not that He can’t change those things; but I don’t generally think He does.
The other thing I tried a bit today was silently praying for the people on the bus. As I said in an earlier post, I see a wide range of people on and from my bus journeys and I think God would probably prefer me to intercede for them than for the bus itself. Being late is rarely that important – waiting in the cold and wet is very temporary. If I believe that God can change people’s lives: heal people, save people, restore relationships, change hearts, then being part of that sounds like something much more exciting.