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Prayer, Plain and Simple

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Three days ago I ran/skated 4 miles on the frozen path around a lake near our home in St. Paul. The snow and icepack is melting in the growing warmth of March, but it’s still a tricky and slippery trek. This morning was different… very, very different. I pushed myself 5 miles, but this time along the lava fields of the western shore of the big island, Kona, Hawaii. From St. Paul to the Pacific Ocean off Kailua Kona – it’s hard to believe I’m on the same planet.

I do love to run. I have no blazing speed, but I have agonized through a couple of marathons and I really enjoy the small victories each time I go out and complete the day’s course. Today was extra delightful. You have to love Hawaii, especially on the heels of a dark and bitter Minnesota winter.

I usually try to pray while I run. Sometimes I have better success than others. Today, I found myself sending little missiles of thanks for creation and a few small petitions. Mostly I just enjoyed myself along the way, and that, I believe was a prayer in itself. I invite Jesus to come with me, so today I’m sure he enjoyed the wonderful scenery too. As Scottish Olympian Eric Liddell in the film “Chariots of Fire” said, “When I run, I feel his pleasure.” I’m not as fast, but I heartily agree!

There are many parables and metaphors in running, ways of connecting the experience to principles of life and worship and a relationship with God and fulfilling our destiny. Here’s a prayer for anyone who runs to finish the race!

“God, you have chosen to give me this race of life, and I run to complete the course and honor you. The way is long and sometimes treacherous. Often I grow exhausted. Sometimes I want to quit. But I have a finish line to cross; I run to get there. Lord, guard me and keep me healthy on my actual, physical runs. You have given me this body and you ask me to care for it. Running is a part of my stewardship. Keep my feet and legs strong and without injury. Strengthen my back. Give health to my heart and lungs. As I run increase my energy and my thinking capacity. Bolster my immune system. Strengthen my bones. You have given me the gift of movement. As I fly along the ground let me soak in the richness of the world you have created. Give me patience when I can’t do all I wish to do. Give me courage to push harder and further than my first instincts want. Help me to strike the balance between rest and reach. Teach me lessons while I run. Show me your character and perseverance by putting a new and deeper perseverance into me. I thank you for the gift of feet. I run the race you have set for me. I will not stop short. I will complete your course, for your honor Jesus…”

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