The Prayer Train
by Oliver Carlos
For two years, I rode the Philippine National Railway (PNR) trains daily. That was the time when I was technically residing in Manila together with my son who was studying at UST High School. My office was in Cabuyao, Laguna and I commuted everyday, to and from work.
The normal route to Manila was by bus, but at that time, the Skyway extension had just started. The main site of the diggings was at Buendia corner SLEX, and so you can imagine how terrible traffic was at that area. I don’t want to get stuck inside the bus for hours, so I decided to ride the PNR trains instead.
My daily trips would start at 5:15 AM at the Laong-Laan station in Sampaloc, Manila. I would ride the 1st southbound PNR trip of the day. The train ride would end in Alabang, that’s the southernmost station. The trip would be one hour long. From Alabang, I would take a UV express van to my office in Laguna. The van ride on SLEX was 20 minutes long, thus I would arrive in Cabuyao just in time for my 7:00 AM class.
The trip back to Manila was similar. I would ride the UV express van from Cabuyao to Alabang beginning at 5:00 PM. From Alabang, I would ride the PNR northbound train up to Laong Laan. From that station, the UST campus was just walking distance away. I would arrive and meet my son at the UST football field right after their daily varsity training which ends at around past 7:00 PM. Then the cycle would begin anew the next morning.
I rode the trains because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my son in the evenings. If I ride the bus, I’ll arrive at past 9 PM. Another thing I liked about my train ride, aside from being traffic-free, was that it costs only P20 one way. If I would take the bus, the trip was worth P70. But the worst thing about the trip was the crowdedness of the box cars. It’s really challenging to ride the train, especially on rush hours, which was my voyage time. We passengers were like sardines, every square inch of space in the box car would be taken. Rarely would I get a seat. I would be standing the whole trip with people stuffed against me on every side.
So what’s the best thing to do in each of those one hour trips? I couldn’t sleep standing up. I couldn’t entertain myself browsing the internet. I didn’t have a smart phone yet at that time, and besides the train wasn’t a wifi zone. All I could do is just pray. I prayed for everybody I know, for anyone who popped up in my mind. I never ran out of people to pray for.
This is what Paul did in his time. He mentioned it in the book of Philippians. He wrote to his Christian friends in the city of Philippi:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy …that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3–6, NIV)
If you have a dull moment, close your eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to point out to you who to pray for. If you don’t know your friend’s prayer request, just pray for his or her general well-being, pray that the good work God started in your friend will be completed. Pray for good health, protection, wisdom, peace of mind, financial provision, victory over temptations and trials, and joy for your friend. When you’re done, move on to the next friend that comes in your mind.
This is the practice God taught me in that stuffy and steamy train. Make this your habit too!