My wonderful husband, God truly bless him, believes that as long as you are only driving locally, say from your house to church or to the corner store, you won’t run out of gas. Even if the little orange warning light comes on. This week I proved him wrong and learned an important lesson about prayer.

Monday being a school holiday, I decided to treat my kids to pizza for lunch. Not just any pizza, but a chicken and bacon pizza slathered with sweet and spicy tomato sauce from the best joint in Bath, The Cabin. Sure, the gas warning light blinked on as I pulled out of the driveway. Big deal, the restaurant was only a half mile away.

Off I cruised, bought my steaming hot pizza, and started my van to drive home when the engine sputtered and died. A fluke, surely. I turned the key again and got the same result. The third time I knew the terrible truth: the tank was empty.I called home, told one of my teens what had happened and set off on foot with the pizza balanced on my hip, wondering who to blame. My husband, for perpetuating such a silly belief? Or myself, for not filling up the van? Either way I was going to have to walk. So, I turned my thoughts in a more positive direction. What could I learn from this?

Not about filling up the van, but about life. And as I walked, this is what came to me. Prayer is a lot like gasoline. How many times do I cruise off and start my day on an empty tank in the false belief that the little remaining from my last fill-up will keep me going? Too often.

That’s not faith. That’s foolish. Can I get by on it? Often. But who knows what difficulties the day will bring? I don’t want to barely get through, wondering whether I’ll make it. I want to be spiritually prepared. Not only to face my own needs, but to remember the needs of others.Life is perilous. Sure, former generations have faced murderous assailants and deadly epidemics. But God put us here for a purpose, in this very time. Too often Christians get sidetracked by our personal pursuit of happiness or by entertaining ourselves into oblivion and forget we are at war. Scripture says we have an enemy who comes to rob and steal and destroy. Prayer offers protection. It also offers comfort and aligns us with God’s will.

“Pray continually,” the apostle Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:17, NIV. Or as the New Living Translation puts it, “Never stop praying.” Not when things are going well and you think you don’t need it. Not when what you’re facing seems dark and overwhelming. Never.

Arriving home with my pizza, I vowed to pay more attention to my prayer tank and stop going so far between fill ups. Then, while my kids enjoyed their cheesy treat, I called the tow company for a tank of gas.