Don’t Drive with Your Eyes Closed, Mama!

As I was driving through Seattle traffic, a loud siren blew, prompting me to immediately utter a short prayer for the first responders and those in crisis.

From the back seat came a panicked little voice “Don’t close your eyes, Mama!”

I had just married, moved to Seattle, and adopted three littles who were suddenly horrified at their new mama praying while driving in traffic. I assured my kids I didn’t close my eyes when I was praying while driving. Or walking. Or on the phone.

But I did warn them to be alert because I pray pretty much anywhere anytime.

I learned this practice from my seminary advisor Dr. J. Christy Wilson. Whenever someone gave him a prayer request, he would stop everything and say, “Let’s just pray about that right now.” I remember feeling awkward at first when he paused in the middle of the cafeteria to pray with me for my mother’s surgery. But I learned.

Dr. Wilson’s spontaneous prayer was contagious among the seminarians and often the source of a bit of fun. Once while in the middle of a large lecture hall a student started dozing off, and the guy sitting next to him nudged and said, “Dr. Wilson just asked you to pray.” Which was completely plausible, though not actually true at the time.

Awakening quickly, the guy stood up in the middle of class and gave a heartfelt prayer. Totally unfazed, Dr. Wilson thanked him and continued the lecture.

I learned from Dr. Wilson that prayer is not just something you do occasionally. Prayer is a way of life. And I discovered that as I prayed about anything and everything, I began to live that praying life.

My husband and I sent our children off to school each day with a blessing and prayer, as well as a blessing and prayer for their teachers by name. After all they would be with them for the entire day. It became a holy habit. And to this day I try to pray with my kids whenever I conclude a phone conversation or visit.

Because many years later after that first traffic prayer, my son Tim worked his way through college serving the Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, Fire Department. And one day he told me, “Every time we go out on a call with sirens blasting, I wonder if there’s a mama and her kids praying for us.”

You can’t make this stuff up. Children are always watching and listening—more is caught than taught.

When the Apostle Paul admonished us in Scripture to “never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), he knew our lives would be full of many other things—people, work, play. He also knew that in the midst of cleaning house, running a business, changing diapers, driving carpool, teaching class, mowing lawns, or riding the subway, we could still maintain a prayerful posture.

If prayer is at its core a conversation with God, then certainly we recognize that conversations take place in many ways. In our own praying lives, we are urged to have daily time of focused prayer and study. For me, this is usually early in the morning before my to-do lists, devices, and people clamor for attention. I also seek to focus at the end of the day on a prayer of reflection, reviewing my part and God’s part in the past hours and entrusting all I love into His care.

But what about in-between? When I’m not necessarily sitting, reading, or singing, I remember people and circumstances before the throne of grace through prayers. Sometimes I just whisper someone’s name, and God knows his or her needs at that moment. Other times I shoot up arrow prayers—two perennial favorites are “Help!” and “Thanks.” And yes, I do stop and pray with people on the phone, at a meeting, walking together, at table, and through a church prayer chain.

I pray spontaneously when called upon and sometimes when not. But I also pray often using ancient prayers downloaded directly from the Holy Spirit to the quill or scroll of someone who put into words exactly how I desire to communicate with my heavenly Father at that moment. I’m so grateful to have access to these anointed prayers from godly believers who lived long ago but seem to understand my twenty-first century soul. I pray Scripture and insert personal pronouns.

I have been recording some one-minute prayers during this time of pandemic. You can hear them by clicking on each prayer link below (the first prayer sample is already clicked):

Will you keep praying always? According to Dallas Willard, prayer is “talking to God about what we’re doing together.” Thus, a life of dwelling deep will include a lot of conversation about your partnership.

Keep living life with God at your side; then you can’t help but talk to Him about it!

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell, adapted from Soul Strong

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouragement at

Soul Strong just released! Order “SOUL STRONG” Today …. More about Soul Strong HERE.

Check out my new companion devotional book Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell Order Today!




  1. Fran Cooley on April 29, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Loved the college story ! Thanks for your words of wisdom
    Fran Cooley

  2. Sandee on April 29, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    You are always such an inspiration, Cindy. Thank you for your precious words.

  3. Lisa Larsen Hill on April 29, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you Lucinda for these wonderful thoughts and prayers!

  4. Cynthia Fantasia on April 29, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    LOVE this Cindy. I did laugh out loud about the seminary student. AND I can so relate to initially feeling awkward – I was reminded of the time I shared a prayer request with a friend I met in the supermarket. She said “Let’s pray right now.” So there we were, her hand on my shoulder, right in front of the frozen vegetable case, and her beseeching the Lord to grant my request.

  5. Polly Brown on April 29, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Lucinda, this is one of the best articles I have read on prayer. Thank you so much. I love that you sent your kids off to school with your prayers and blessing. I had a friend who also did it. My children went to boarding school when we worked in Pakistan, and the night before they left, my husband prayed with each of them individually. They never forgot it. It was just a very special time with Dad. I wonder when you were at Gordon Conwell. My son Stan Brown, the one I lost to an accident in February, was there from 91-94. He, his wife and two kids lived in one of the apartments, and Christy Wilson and his wife lived just down the hall from them. I heard about his practice of always praying immediately for any prayer request. Stan and Tami were a bit older. They had been in Kenya for several years. I plan to share this post with my Bible Study group, and the women I pray with weekly. Blessings on you.

    • Gail Hollingsworth on April 29, 2020 at 5:06 pm

      Loved reading this. Pray without ceasing is a great challenge. Starting the day with “Dear Heavenly Father” and ending it with “In Jesus Name, Amen” is something to not just think about but do.

  6. Polly Brown on April 29, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    PS to above: I’m glad you kept your eyes open when driving and praying:)

  7. Joanne Johnson on April 29, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you Lucinda, your email came at just the right moment. I was looking to pray for one of my sisters in our church group, her family has Covid 19. Grabbing your book I had gotten at one of your wonderful retreats. Much love and stay well

  8. Maggie Rowe on April 29, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    Your spoken prayers from Soul Strong are a treasure – almost like an audiobook but easier to share. Your heart for prayer and your beautiful writing has blessed countless of God’s children and will continue to bless many more.

    • Nancy Smith on May 4, 2020 at 8:23 pm

      I enjoyed the classroom prayer story too! It sounded like something we did at Word of Life. Who says being a Christian is boring? I too have learned that the quick prayer immediately is better than the forgotten one!

  9. Jennifer Kindle on April 30, 2020 at 5:13 pm


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