I grew up hearing the admonition to seek the Lord in constant prayer, and as a teenager, felt that my efforts at saying morning and bedtime prayers were enough. After all, it’s hard to remember to pray in the morning—surely there were double points in Heaven for that. But then I had an experience that taught me the true meaning of that counsel.
Shortly before my marriage fifteen years ago, I was in a car accident that totaled my vehicle and made regular doctor visits a necessity. Because I didn’t have a car anymore, I started using the public bus system, and while I’m sure there are very nice people who ride the bus, I was uncomfortable on many occasions—like the day when the bus was rerouted because of construction, and the man behind me piped up and said he hoped the bus wouldn’t be late because he had to get home to call his parole officer …
I rode the bus to work, from work to the doctor, then back to work, and then back home for the better part of three months. Thank goodness for unlimited passes. I came to know the bus schedule pretty well, and I also came to know something else: a closer relationship with Heavenly Father.
Because I never knew who was going to be on the bus with me at any given time, I started praying as soon as I boarded the bus and I didn’t stop until I got off. At first, these prayers were focused on my safety, but soon I started talking to Heavenly Father about every aspect of my life, from healing after the accident to the wedding I was planning and everything in between. I came to look forward to those bus rides as a nearly uninterrupted chance to communicate with my Heavenly Father in the middle of a life that was so hectic, I often didn’t have the chance to pray at any other time except bedtime.
After my marriage, my bus rides came to an end. My new husband and I moved, and I got a job close to our apartment and could walk. We also had a car for those longer distances. As a result, my hour-long chats with the Lord also came to an end, and I realized I had lost something very precious in my life.
As I made the effort to focus and add prayer back in on a consistent basis, that sweet relationship returned. I no longer have an hour at a time to spend in prayer, but I can certainly speak to the Lord on several shorter occasions throughout the day, and when I take the time to do this, everything becomes brighter and clearer.
We need the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost now more than ever. I’m constantly amazed—although I really shouldn’t be—at how bombarded we are by media images and music. Movies that ten years ago would have been rated R are now PG-13, and more language is creeping into our G-rated films than ever before. We can’t step outside without hearing foul lyrics from passing cars. We can’t go to the grocery store without seeing seductive pictures on magazines. The images are constant and unrelenting.
Because we live in the world, this is part of our daily experience. But we have been given a gift which will truly be a lifeline to us—prayer. Of course I speak of kneeling and folding our arms, but I especially speak of those prayers we offer in our minds at times when kneeling isn’t a possibility, when we need a quick boost from the Spirit to chase away the unwanted images or the offensive lyrics, or for comfort. I know from my own experience that “informal” prayers are just as heard, and answered, as those we offer on bended knee.
I’m so grateful to know that the Lord hears us regardless of our surroundings. I have prayed in glorious temples and I have prayed on smelly buses—He can and does hear us, and sends us the Holy Ghost in reply. He strengthens us to face what we must. He guides us onto paths of safety. He comforts us when we are afraid, and He speaks to our minds and hearts whenever we turn to Him, no matter where we might be, always and forever, constantly.
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