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A Runner’s Prayer

A runner summons all of his strength and prayers in one final push to cross the finish line.

Finish Line

A mile and a half from my dream. If I could run that distance in less than 16 and a half minutes, I’d pass the last—and toughest—part of the physical fitness test and start my training to be an agent for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Competition was stiff; hundreds signed up whenever a handful of positions opened. I’d applied seven times over the past 20 years. I never got past the first interview stage. At 55 years old, I knew this was my last shot.

My wife, Retta, was at home praying for me. Larry Yamnitz, a MDC supervisor, said he’d not only pray, but run alongside me to keep my spirits up. I welcomed the company because I’d tried the run two days earlier, but didn’t finish in time. I’d passed every other requirement with flying colors: sit-ups, push-ups, vertical jumps, sprints and the obstacle course. Along the way, I wrenched my knee. During the subsequent mile-and-a-half run, my leg stiffened. I came in a minute over the limit.

Larry said he’d give me another chance. Now, two days later, on a cold, snowy, gloomy day, he asked if I was ready. I nodded. He hit his stopwatch and we took off.

Quarter mile. I was winded. “Think about how much you want this,” Larry said. Half mile. “Can’t,” I huffed. “Knee hurts.”

Larry answered, “Tough it out.” Three quarters of a mile. I couldn’t catch my breath. One mile. No energy left. “Please, Lord,” I begged, “give me strength.”

“Don’t waste energy talking out loud!” Larry said. “God will hear you even if you keep your mouth shut.”

After that, each time my foot hit the pavement I sent out a silent prayer: Please. God. Help. Me.

Somehow I crossed the finish line. “Congratulations,” Larry said. “You made it with a minute to spare.”

A minute to spare! That’s what comes of persistence and prayer.

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