sometimes you’ll hear a commentator on the news say “well, we’re going through a rough patch…” or “we’ll just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other…”, or any number of other metaphors that involve traveling through the difficulties of our lives. But Behrens Library happens to have among the many prayer books on its shelves a few examples of prayers in which that journey is not metaphorical at all, and the shaking up we get in the rough patches really does call on the travelers to trust the driver, and hope that the driver has placed their own trust appropriately. A Ghanaian truck driver is the author of one of the most explicit “journey prayers” imaginable. It appears in the Oxford Book of Prayer, pp. 127-29, and begins as follows:
the motor under me is running hot.
there are twenty-eight people
and lots of luggage in the truck.
Underneath are my bad tyres.
The brakes are unreliable.
Unfortunately I have no money,
and parts are difficult to get.
I did not overload the truck.
'Jesus is mine'
is written on the vehicle,
for without him I would not drive
a single mile.
The people in the back are relying on me.
They trust me because they see the words:
'Jesus is mine'.
I trust you!
The whole long poem is an exciting ride, from the “straight road” where the driver can keep his “eyes on the women, children and chickens in the village” to the “death-road to Kumasi”, with its “temptation to take more people than we should. Let’s overcome it! The road to Accra is another problem. Truck drivers try to beat the record … and finally to Akwasim”, where “I am reminded of you , and in reverence I take off my hat. Now downhill in second gear …” The driver sings hallelujah when the trip is ended, and he is probably not the only one. And we can be grateful, too, to the book’s editor, George Appleton, for his fine selection of prayers from a wide variety of sources and suited to many occasions.