I’ve been curious about the safety of the various activities in which we engage and decided to do some research. According to some internet sites, the world’s most dangerous activities include things like BASE jumping, racing motorcycles, bull riding, and big-wave surfing. I’m sure the mothers of people who engage in these activities pray daily for the safety of their children. As church members we frequently pray for the safety of the missionaries and those serving our country in the armed forces. However, according to my very informal research, the people for whom we most often request divine protection are those members engaged in the death-defying activity of . . . driving home from church.
Driving home from church; what’s so dangerous about that? I’m not sure myself but it must be very dangerous or at the conclusion of nearly every church meeting we wouldn't pray; “bless us that we’ll all arrive home safely” . Have you ever prayed to arrive safely at church? I don’t ever remember doing so. Therefore it must only be the drive home that’s dangerous.
Perhaps the drive to church is so much safer because members arrive at a variety of times. Some come early; some on time and the rest of us arrive 5-10 minutes late, thereby reducing congestion. Conversely, at the end of the three-hour meeting block, a big school bell in the hallway rings and tired, hungry toddlers, frazzled parents, restless teens, old people with low blood sugar and football fans all race to the parking where the Bishop yells; “Brothers and Sisters, start your engines.” OK, I made that last part up. He really mutters; “Depart ye fiends.”
Still, even with everyone departing at the same time it doesn’t seem as if driving home from church warrants the frequency of requests for divine protection. There must be something more to it. I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided that requesting divine intervention to protect us on our journey home is a tradition handed down from the pioneers. You see, back in the old days people used to walk to church or even ride horses or in horse-drawn buggies.
Horses can be unpredictable and after being tied up during church they can runaway or buck off their rider. Walking home was also dangerous; pedestrians could be trampled by runaway horses, trip and fall or perhaps even get a blister. Because of these many perils, one Sunday, while giving the benediction, someone said; “please bless us that we’ll all arrive at our homes safely.” This new phrase instantly joined “nourish and strengthen us” in the prayer phrasebook where it remains today—firmly ingrained in the LDS lexicon.