Prayers will never slow you down. They may just get you where you are going.
Tina was the best speed-walking buddy I could ever ask for. Together we walked all over town and even entered half-marathons together. But I could never understand my friend’s persistent habit of praying while we walked.
Prayer, for me, was something you did in church or in the privacy of your home. Not in the middle of a race! But Tina bowed her head at every mile marker. She told me that it helped her focus. I thought it just slowed us down.
Tina wasn’t up for entering the Community First Fox Cities Marathon with me, a full 26 miles, but she did give me a prayer list to take with me. I carried it to the starting line along with my Band-Aids and Tylenol. Twenty-six prayer ideas, one for every mile.
I wasn’t really planning to slow myself down with all those prayers, but I didn’t want to hurt Tina’s feelings, so I kept her list. I walked the first mile of the race in 12 minutes‒a new personal record. I caught a glance at Tina’s prayer roster when I checked my watch. At the top was simply: God.
He did give me a good start to the race, I admitted. I thanked him for my strong time. While I was at it, I took the opportunity to thank him for my health and strength too. By the time I was finished I had already hit mile 2 where my husband and kids were cheering me on.
It just so happened that “Family” was the next one on Tina’s prayer list. I had plenty of things to be thankful for there. The next mile flew by, then the next and the next, each with a prayer. By the time I neared the final mile, my ankles were screaming and my feet were numb.
I don’t know if I can make it another mile, I thought.
In desperation I looked at the final prayer on Tina’s list, now wrinkled and sweaty in my hand: Jesus. With you walking with me, I thought, I can do this! I finished the marathon in less than six hours. I thought prayers would slow me down. Instead they carried me across the finish line.
Written by Meredith Cummings