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In all the ways thou goest

20 June 2014

Liz Clutterbuck finds inspiration in social-media prayer resources

THE daily commute is increasingly becoming a place of prayer. It might seem like a nearly impossible place to be with God - given the noise, the delays, and cramped conditions - but the creation of devotional smartphone apps and websites is helping commuters to make space for it.

Apps based on the lectionary and Daily Prayer enable travellers to engage in the Offices without carrying Common Worship with them. Websites such as Sacred Space (maintained by a Jesuit community) invite the individual into God's presence, wherever they may be, by providing written prayers, encouragement to be conscious of one's relationship with God, a Bible passage, and a time of conversation with God.

The hashtag #trainprayer appears regularly in my Twitter feed, when commuters invite their followers to share prayer requests with them. In the midst of the morning rush, it is possible to stop and pray.

Here are some suggestions for possible structures for prayer in this context. They draw on the environment in which we find ourselves while travelling, using fellow passengers, maps, announcements, and the view from the windows as inspirations for prayer.

Each point could be the focus of a morning's journey throughout a working week, or used all together on a longer journey. The aim is to let the context of the journey shape the prayers.

1. Dedicate this space to God as a place of prayer and reflection. Pray for all those joining together in prayer at this time of day - whether at home, at work, in church, or travelling. Pray for those for whom their commute is a time of prayer: that God would speak to them in this place, and that other travellers might sense God's presence. Pray for all those who take this journey regularly.

2. Look around at your fellow passengers. Take a note of the variety of life surrounding you - families, tourists, the range of nationalities and cultures, faiths, and languages. Pray for all those thrown together in one place and at one moment. You won't know anything about those around you, but use the journey to be led by God in prayer for them.

3. Think about all who work to keep the transport system running - drivers, engineers, managers, cleaners, station staff, and many others. Pray for those who may face changes or redundancy; those who have been traumatised through events at work; and those who endure abuse from the public. Check whether there are any issues, such as delays, engineering works, or potential strikes. Ask God for patience to cope with the stresses of travel.

4. Spend a moment thinking about the places at which your transport stops. Perhaps there is a map or screen giving station names that you could focus on.Do you know anything about these places? Hold them in prayer as you travel.

5. Look out of the windows. You could look for indications of church presence - buildings or posters, perhaps - and pray for those worshipping communities. Take time to pray for the population of the area you are travelling through. What challenges might face those who live here?

These five themes can easily become a pattern for prayer, regardless of the circumstances of the journey. There are few better times to pray for your fellow travellers than when crammed against them on a packed train or bus. We can all engage in prayer with the part of God's creation that we travel through.

Rather than let your journey be lost to anger, frustration, or reading another free newspaper, re-dedicate that time to prayer, and let your journey be transformed.

Liz Clutterbuck is an ordinand at St Mellitus College, in London.

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