Travel mercies

Before Christians go on trips, they often ask for “traveling mercies.” What are these special prayers?

The New Testament books in general talk a lot about prayers and praying, and in the Acts of the Apostles and in Paul’s letters there are a number of references to trips and traveling. But rarely in the Bible are the two topics of prayer and travel intentionally combined as is the case with the Christianese expression “traveling mercies.”

Traveling mercies are prayers that are made for someone who is about to undertake a big journey. When the term first started being used in the late 19th century, it meant prayers for missionaries who were going on long journeys to remote parts of the world. When you think about it, the late 19th century probably wasn’t so very different from the 1st century in terms of the dangers of travel. Delays, thefts, illnesses, unexpected expenses—such misfortunes plague long-distance travelers of every age and every part of the world.

The term “traveling mercies” caught on and started showing up in print quite a bit in missionary magazines and other kinds of Christian publications during the early part of the 20th century. It wasn’t long before non-missionaries wanted these special prayers too. After all, why should ordinary lay people settle for just hedges of protection when they can have traveling mercies too? And so by the mid-20th century, the expression “traveling mercies” was being used by pretty much anyone who wanted prayer for an upcoming trip, whether the trip was specifically religious in nature or not. The special connection between traveling mercies and missionary work had become a relic of a bygone time.

traveling mercies n.Prayer› See various senses.

The term arose in the late 19th century and was used at first almost exclusively of church workers who were on a long journey for the purpose of ministry work (see sense 1), but by the mid-20th century the term was being used in a general way of any Christians who were on a journey for any reason (see sense 2).

1. God’s blessings and protection on missionaries, preachers, and other church workers who are traveling to or from a place of ministry, usually at some distance.

• Sakurai Minutes of the Second Bienniel Convention of the World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union 17 : He has blessed me with traveling mercies and allowed me to come here to try to do something for him. The Interior XXV. 1721 : The Lord was good indeed, and gave us traveling mercies innumerable throughout our journeying in England, Scotland and the United States, and now we are thankful to be brought again in health and strength to our loved field of labor in the Holy City. The Advance XLV. 699 : She wrote of their comfortable journey while ships just before and after had suffered. This was spoken of as one of the “traveling mercies” which we often ask for our missionaries. The Nazarene Messenger XII. 64 : We had traveling mercies, and on arrival in this city were very warmly welcomed by the people of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. We were made comfortable by the kindness of the saints in a home of our own. Presbyterian Mag. XVI. 558 : The missionary, thankful for traveling mercies, reached Mejdel warm and dry, being clad in a complete suit of rubber. YMCA Association Men XXXVI. 426 : Pray for the thousands of delegates now enroute to the Triennial International Sunday School Convention at San Francisco. For traveling mercies, open-mindedness, spiritual vision, and obedient wills. Missionary Voice III. 449 : Pray for traveling mercies for them and for a great outpouring of blessings upon Brazil. Missions: An International Baptist Mag. XIV. 346 : Bon voyage to the delegates and friends bound for the Old World. May God give to all traveling mercies and a safe return! Miller Patty Lou in the Wilds of Central America 12 : She finished by saying, “And as we start on the final lap of the journey, give us traveling mercies. Keep Thy hand over us every moment of the voyage as we sail across the Gulf of Panama into the San Miguel Gulf and up the Tuira River to our headquarters.” The Moravian vols. 99–101 171 : Our thanks as a church are due for traveling mercies accorded to them all. They can be assured of the prayers of many, especially in the case of those who now undertake missionary responsibility for the first time. Huss Robert G. Lee: The Authorized Biography 204 : All of the men took turns praying that their pastor would be afforded traveling mercies, that he would be mightily used of God, and that he return to them safely. Hunter My Love Affair with Charles 65 : Please remember to pray for God’s traveling mercies as we drive on Thanksgiving Day to Clearwater for the Youth Convention, and then pray that God will make me a blessing to all the youth who will be attending.

2. God’s blessings and protection on any people who are traveling.

Eades

They Did Not March Alone 2 : Then the two men in uniform, the enlisted man and the Chaplain stood for a short prayer, asking God to give the young soldier traveling mercies and to bless him and the bereaved loved ones back at home.

North Carolina State AFL-CIO

Proceedings of the Annual Convention 110 : We pray that you have your way in the rest of this convention here this afternoon and that we as delegates and visitors going to our respective homes, that You give us traveling mercies as we go on the highways, through the air or however we go, and may we arrive home safetly for we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Beardsley, Spry

The Fulfilled Woman 23 : Always pray for traveling mercies and ask God to make your husband a safe, alert driver.

a1997 Wimber

Everyone Gets to Play (2007) 83 : I’ve been in hundreds of prayer meetings and have heard all kinds of prayers from prayers for traveling mercies to unspoken requests.

Kimball

They Like Jesus But Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations 44 : We find ourselves regularly using Christian words and phrases and clichés, such as

backsliding ,

prayer warrior ,

fellowship ,

quiet time ,

traveling mercies .

Sinclair

Branded: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture 97 : I’m not trying to pick on anyone, but “traveling mercies” is one of my favorite Christianese phrases. Instead of praying for a safe trip to grandma’s house, we say, “Please pray for traveling mercies as we visit family this weekend.”

Murrow

Why Men Hate Going to Church 103 : Please pray traveling mercies for my son. He’s flying back to Harvard for the spring semester.

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Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

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Traveling Mercies Quotes Showing 1-30 of 105

“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“It turned out this man worked for the Dalai Lama. And she said gently-that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born-and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“It is unearned love–the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It’s the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“…music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We’re walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn’t get to any other way.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me, but each time it hit again and I bore it…I would discover that it hadn’t washed me away.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“The thing about light is that it really isn’t yours; it’s what you gather and shine back. And it gets more power from reflectiveness; if you sit still and take it in, it fills your cup, and then you can give it off yourself.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“It’s so awful, attacking your child. It’s the worse thing I know, to shout loudly at this 50 lb. being with his huge trusting brown eyes. It’s like bitch-slapping E.T.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“ work taught me that you could be all the traditional feminine things — a mother, a lover, a listener, a nurturer — and you could also be critically astute and radical and have a minority opinion that was profoundly moral.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“Mine was a patchwork God, sewn together from bits of rag and ribbon, Eastern and Western, pagan and Hebrew, everything but the kitchen sink and Jesus.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone’s very heart. There was no sense of performance or judgment, only that the music was breath and food.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“Grief, as I read somewhere once, is a lazy Susan. One day it is heavy and underwater, and the next day it spins and stops at loud and rageful, and the next day at wounded keening, and the next day numbness, silence.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“I don’t know why life isn’t constructed to be seamless and safe, why we make such glaring mistakes, things fall so short of our expectations, and our hearts get broken and out kids do scary things and our parents get old and don’t always remember to put pants on before they go out for a stroll. I don’t know why it’s not more like it is in the movies, why things don’t come out neatly and lessons can’t be learned when you’re in the mood for learning them, why love and grace often come in such motley packaging.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“I smiled back at her. I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“I think that is why we stay close to our families, no matter how neurotic the members, how deeply annoying or dull- because when people have seen you at your worst, you don’t have to put on the mask as much.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“There is nothing more touching to me then a family picture where everyone is trying to look his or her best, but you can see what a mess they all really are.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“This is the most profound spiritual truth I know: that even when we’re most sure that love can’t conquer all, it seems to anyway. It goes down into the rat hole with us, in the guise of our friends, and there it swells and comforts. It gives us second winds, third winds, hundredth winds.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“And my fear of failure has been lifelong and deep. If you are what you do- and I think my parents may have accidentally given me this idea- and you do poorly, what then? It’s over; you’re wiped out. All those prophecies you heard in the dark have come true, and people can see the real you, see what a schmendrick you are, what a fraud.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“Now she and I sit together in her room and eat chocolate, and I tell her that in a very long time when we both to go heaven, we should try to get chairs next to each other, close to the dessert table.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“I know that sometimes these friends feel that they have been expelled from the ordinary world they lived in before and that they are now citizens of the Land of the Fucked.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“Without using the word, everyone started forgiving each other again. Just like that, from the no of all nothingness: you have a big tense mess and out of it comes some joy. It must be magic.”

Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

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Prayer isn’t a religious thing; it’s a legal thing. We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and that includes praying over our traveling! God watches over His Word, so let’s give Him something to work with by praying.

Psalm 37:4-7 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (KJV)

Deuteronomy 28:6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

Matthew 21:21-22 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you shall say to this mountain ‘be removed and cast into the sea’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

(Know Prayer, Know Power Resource.)

Right place at the right time

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delights in his way.

Psalms 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me.

Proverbs 3:6 In all our ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him Who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

 

Favor with those around us

Psalms 5:12 The Lord surrounds the righteous with favor as a shield.

Proverbs 3:4 I find favor, good understanding and high esteem in the sight of God and man.

Wisdom and guidance

Proverbs 2:6-9 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. (NLT)

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.

(Learn about raising a wise child.)

Divine protection and appointment 

Psalm 91:10-11 Then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

Psalm 121:7-8 The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Walking in health 

Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship and a new person in Jesus Christ so that I can do the good things He planned for me long ago.

1 Peter 2:24 By His wounds you have been healed.

Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden like an ever-flowing spring.

To be an ambassador for Christ

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. (NIV)

Colossians 4:6 … Let your speech always be gracious, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer everyone.

Psalm 5:12 Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

(Find MP3s to enjoy on your next trip in the Semi-Annual Digital Sale. Expires August 15th)

travel mercies

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