by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

It’s about time to begin my packing list. Weeks before a trip is scheduled, I start my travel preparations with a list. Mostly I do this because I don’t want to forget anything I may want during our vacation. My husband would probably tell you that I generally overpack my bags with more clothes, etc., than I could possibly need or use. Nevertheless, his comments don’t deter me in the least as I move forward toward our trip countdown.

Did you know there are guides on how to pack a suitcase? Yes, over the years I’ve come across dozens of packing guides and many helpful tips. One such guide begins, “Packing a suitcase is a strategic exercise in maximizing space and minimizing wrinkles.” My mom has often boasted about my skillful ability to make the most of my packing space.

Yet another guide begins, “Knowing how to pack a suitcase is essential to being a good traveler.” However, 27 years of traveling with my husband have taught me a successful and happy trip requires more than the items I pack in my bags. Indeed, the most important thing I need to pack doesn’t require luggage. As the title of a recent online chat featured on put it, “Don’t forget to pack prayer.”

I’ve found that beginning trip preparations with prayer has helped me add items to my suitcase that I might not have thought I needed and then would indeed need during the trip. In addition to packing, planning for a trip can raise all sorts of anxieties. For me, this has included fear of flying, health concerns, inclement weather dreads or any other unexpected or unwanted catastrophes.

With plenty of worries to fear and fret about, it’s a wonder anyone can ever have a happy vacation. But prayer can help us find the perfect solution for every situation. During one trip on which everything went wrong, including a hurricane evacuation, prayer made the difference in turning the trip into a safe, and still fun, adventure.

Packing prayer means acknowledging God’s control and power before you pack — or rather, before you even make your packing list. Then, certainly every day throughout a trip, packing prayer is listening for God’s wisdom and knowing that He is providing us with the practical ideas we need. Packing prayer means we’re alert to the angels of His presence — the spiritual intuitions and thoughts God gives us. These spiritual guides will lead us on a safe journey and also deliver us if we get into any trouble. For the Psalmist promises, “For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalms 91:11).

The Psalmist also tells us how we hear the guidance our angel guardians give to us when he says, “Be still … ” (Psalms 46:10). Being mentally still may not always be easy, especially in challenging times, but doing so, if only for a few moments, will help us to hear God’s angel messages more clearly.

As we prepare for traveling and embark on our travels, we can be assured that God is with us to care for us each step — or mile — of the way. We can trust in the Psalmist’s reassuring message, “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore” (Psalms 121:8).

So, when you’re preparing to travel, don’t forget to pack prayer and have a great trip! That’s my plan, too!