How to Pray for Endurance

The New York City Marathon is a reminder of a key element of faith.

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Posted in , Oct 31, 2019

Praying for endurance

My morning walk to work takes me through Central Park, which has been busy lately as construction workers put together viewing stands and pavilions for Sunday's New York Marathon. This morning the path I usually take was blocked by a crane being used to erect the finish line.

I am not a runner; what I know of endurance comes from years of slogging through the mental health problems of my children and spouse. I have friends who have had to push through seemingly endless physical suffering, affliction, addiction or financial disaster. 

In the early years of my difficulties I assumed that if I hunkered down and kept going, eventually my problems would be in the past. My prayers for endurance ran along the lines of, "Please Lord, help me through this." 

There's nothing terribly wrong with that prayer, of course, except that it's missing a key element: the "Thy will be done" that Jesus added in the Garden of Gethsemane. If things did not turn out as I hoped, I still needed and wanted to love Jesus anyway. So I changed my prayer to, "Please Lord, help me love you more through this." That put more emphasis on my relationship with God than on the outcome of my particular problem.

The addition of those three little words also changed my perspective about the nature of the marathon I was running. When I was in agony and exhausted, putting love front and center helped me keep my eyes on the prize. It allowed me to look at painful situations as opportunities to become a bit more like Jesus, who knew suffering on a scale I cannot imagine. 

Still, I love the New York City Marathon. I can't fathom how people can run 26+ miles and can't imagine myself doing the same. It reminds me that being unable to see how to endure extreme pain and difficulty means just one thing: I can't see how. There may be a way I don't see yet. There may not. Whatever the case, I can draw closer to Christ, running the good race and keeping the faith.

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