Cars can be vehicles for holiness. They can also lead to near occasions of sin or simply be nothing more than a mode of transportation. So, Heaven, Hell, or planet Earth are all possible destinations when you get behind the wheel. Of course, we will be driving the highways of the here and now, but like every moment, whatever we do, there are underpinnings for our afterlife.
Once I started writing articles and a book on holy hacks, I began translating the popular life hacks craze to include eternal life. Life hacks are clever, simple ways to make life easier and better. Holy Hacks do the same to help us get to Heaven. Even if we drive in the slow lane, little but consistent steps toward God increases our capacity to love and serve him and his grace will accelerate or efforts.
Here are a few ways to include our driving time.
- Pray for idiotic drivers. They suddenly cut you off or don’t bother to turn their blinker on. Or off. They might slam on their brakes, just because. Whatever they did, it actually creates an opportunity. It takes as much time to yell at them as to pray for them. “The measure with which you measure will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:20). When you give bad drivers undeserved mercy by praying for them, everyone benefits.
- Offer up traffic frustrations. The low-level suffering of inconveniences are opportunities for grace. Don’t waste them. That includes making a wrong turn, getting lost, traffic jams, and scraping ice off windows.
- Pray while your gas tank is filling. What else have you ever done while filling your tank that is of eternal benefit? I bet you can’t remember a single thought you’ve ever had while pumping gas. So, use that time to get you or others to Heaven.
- Pay it forward. Buy a couple gift cards at your favorite station. The next time you see a person in a junker car with kids in the back seat, hand them one. Or donate gas cards to a program that can find people in need.
- Pray for the people that you irritate. Sometimes we are the idiot driver. Perfection eludes us, so it’s just a matter of time. Getting the finger or having someone honk and scream at us is not fun. The measure-with-which-you-measure deal applies here too.
- Offer up your driving time. Give your driving time over to God. Every bit of it. It will make it more likely that you’ll behave well under pressure.
- Join the Sacred Heart Auto League. It was founded in 1955 to promote prayerful, careful driving. Read more about it here.
- Let someone into your lane. Also, when entering or leaving a crowded event, do a good deed and let someone go ahead of you.
- Give up a great parking space. Even if there’s no one else vying for it, leave the space in front of the building for someone else. Offer up the extra walk and pray for the person who will be parking there.
- If you see a parking meter running out, put in some coins. Technically, this is not a driving hack, since I hope you will be walking at that moment, but it will make that person’s drive much better.
- Put a pro-God message on a bumper sticker or personalized plates. There are many businesses that allow you to custom design a sticker. You can make it about Jesus, prolife, praying, or faith and be evangelizing even in parking lots.
- Use red lights as prayer triggers. Make red lights a time to pray for someone who asked for them or for your own special intentions. What else do you have to do then?
- Pray for speeders and reckless drivers. Pray for them and for everyone in their path.
- Pray for people you pass by. When you notice people on the street that look a little (or a lot) rough around the corners, pray for them.
- Pray for the people who get pulled over. They are having a bad day, or they are criminals and need help. Pray for the officer too.
- Be inspired while you drive. Listen to Catholic CDs, radio, podcasts or religious or sacred music.
- Sirens are signals. Always pray for whoever is at the other end of that siren, be it an ambulance, firetruck or police car.
- Use your car to volunteer. People need transportation or errands or goods to be transported. Check with charitable groups or with your parish.
- Praise God for car troubles. Everyone hates flat tires or fender benders or dead batteries. Don’t let it ruin your mood, however. You have a car and you have the means to fix it. Praise God for that. Pray for all those who don’t have reliable transportation or can’t afford to fix their cars.
- Pause before you turn the key. Touch bases with God before you start your car. “Dear Lord, thank you for the blessing of having a car. Please protect me while I drive and help me to use this time to give glory to you.”