Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?
Corrie Ten Boom
This saying may sound like a cliche, but you have to consider who said these words. If you have never heard of Corrie Ten Boom, she was a Dutch Christian woman who hid many Jews from the Nazis during the war. One of many חֲסִידֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם (hasidei umot haolam) "righteous among the nations" who had the courage to risk their own lives by saving Jews during the Holocaust. She was apprehended and sentenced to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Miraculously she survived and lived to tell her story.
Even in a concentration camp this remarkable lady never lost her faith. So when she compares prayer to a spare tire which comes into use only in an emergency, when a vehicle's original tire is damaged, she challenges our faith. If we only pray when we are in trouble, then our prayers are not necessarily heartfelt. Are they mere desperate attempts to escape our misfortune? Instead, our prayer can be like a vehicle's steering wheel, constantly directing us as our life makes necessary turns. Such prayer never stops correcting our course. It does not allow us to become complacent, creating a constant connection to the Almighty.