The Reason I Don’t Want to Pray for People Who Get on My Nerves
The other day, my wife and I were driving down a two-lane road in the country when we got stuck behind a big ol’ Mack truck that was stuck behind a slowly-moving tractor. We figured we would be in for a long wait – we did not anticipate, however, that we were about to watch a truck driver nearly kill somebody.
The impatient driver of the truck decided that he would pass the tractor and ignore the double yellow line indicating that it was not safe to do so. However, the truck was only able to get side by side with the tractor before a small sedan appeared in the oncoming lane and began heading straight towards the truck; and there wasn’t enough time for the truck to get out of the way.
We sat and watched with our mouths open.
The Guy Refuses to Give Up
Fortunately, everyone on the road ground to a halt so that the Mack truck could slow down and get back behind the tractor where he belonged. The car didn’t get crushed, traffic moved on, but I was flabbergasted.
“I wish there were a 1-800 number on the back of his truck to report unsafe driving,” I said to my wife, snapping a picture of his license plate with my phone.
About two minutes later, the driver of the truck was at another double yellow line, and made yet another attempt to pass the tractor; only this time, he succeeded without nearly killing somebody.
I wanted to catch up with the truck to get as much information as I could and report him to his company, but we were still stuck behind the tractor. And when we were finally able to pass the tractor (legally), the truck was off in the distance.
“Catch up with it, honey,” I said. “I want to get the company name off the side of the truck and call them.”
“Oh Joshua,” she said, “you can’t always be the one who makes sure justice is done. Just pray for the guy.”
But I didn’t want to pray for him – I wanted to stop him from running over some unsuspecting family in the country. So rather than pray, I sat in the car and stared at his truck in the distance trying to will my wife to drive like a maniac to catch up with him. Instead, my wife pulled over at a farmer’s market and bought some corn.
I was disappointed – my chances of doing something were lost.
What it Means to Really Do Something
As I sat there, examining my photo of the back of his truck, I kept hearing my wife’s voice in my head saying, “Just pray for the guy.” And it occurred to me that the reason I didn’t want to pray for that reckless truck driver is because I didn’t think it would make a difference.
When I’m in conflict with someone or I see some wrong being committed, it’s so much easier to do something; because I can see the results with my natural eyes, and therefore, I feel as though I’ve actually accomplished something. But when I pray, I must wait on God to do something, which is frustrating because:
- I cannot see His hands slapping around the person with whom I’m frustrated;
- I know that He is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8), which means His approach to the situation is probably going to be a lot more loving than mine; and
- Praying for someone almost always involves humbling my heart and making myself more vulnerable to the Holy Spirit creating a desire in me to forgive.
I’m not saying that God doesn’t call me to do things to fight injustice or deal with conflict, I’m saying that one of the most important ways I am called to do something – something that actually makes a difference – is to pray. God, help me.