Teachers can learn a lot from their students. When I was a first-year teacher in Pensacola, Florida–a city entrenched in the Bible Belt–I learned a lot about prayer from my middle schoolers often at the most unexpected times.
They were taking a test the first time I saw it happen. We were fifteen minutes into the test–the students hard at work and concentrating–when an ambulance drove by. It wasn’t excessively loud and I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it if it wasn’t for Evan.
When Evan heard the ambulance, he didn’t look out the window to see what was going on. In fact, he didn’t look up at all. With intense focus on his test, he made the Sign of the Cross and continued with his work.
I had grown up Catholic and I was even teaching religion at the time, but I had never heard or seen someone make the Sign of the Cross when an ambulance drove by. I was very struck by the simplicity and power of this ambulance prayer.
When we see an ambulance with its sirens blaring and lights flashing, we have no idea how serious the situation might be. We can’t really know the details of what is going on inside or the destination the drives are navigating towards.
But we can pray.
Like Evan, I think the Sign of the Cross is a great ambulance prayer for the people in harms way or for the people in whose care their lives might depend.
Others have suggested simple ambulance prayers like the Hail Mary and the Our Father. Or if you feel comfortable, say a private, heartfelt prayer for the people involved.
I am very thankful for the parents who teach their children to pray like this–to think and pray for others no matter what they are doing at a particular time. They are an inspiration for us all.
The next time you hear an ambulance or pull over for one to drive by, how will you pray?
My Catholic school growing up was only a block away from the firehouse. Every time the firetrucks or ambulance went out, the class would stop and say a Hail Mary for those involved. I continue the tradition with my kids today whenever we are out driving and hear or see firetrucks and ambulance. We turn down the radio and either together or separately say a Hail Mary and follow with, “Please take care of those needing the ambulance/fire trucks and those that are taking care of them.”