One man, too inebriated to drive, was walking home along railroad tracks when his foot suddenly became stuck. He pulled and tugged, but could not free it from the tracks.
With the speeding train closer, he tried again. "Oh, Lord, get my foot out of these tracks and I'll stop drinking AND I'll quit cheating on my wife!"
Still nothing, and now the train was just seconds away.
He tried one last time. "Lord, if you get my foot out of the tracks, I'll quit drinking, cheating, AND ... I'll become a pastor!"
Suddenly his foot shot out of the tracks and he dove out of the way of the passing train. Dusting himself off, he looked toward Heaven and said, "Never mind, Lord, I got it out myself."
Mahatma Gandhi claimed to have never made even a minor decision without prayer. Gandhi was known best as an Indian nationalist and spiritual leader, but he was also a man of rare courage. He developed the practice of nonviolent disobedience that eventually forced Great Britain to grant India's independence.
Rabbi Harold Kushner speaks about such prayer. He reminds us that "people who pray for courage, for strength to bear the unbearable, for the grace to remember what they have left instead of what they have lost, very often find their prayers answered. Their prayers helped them tap hidden reserves of faith and courage that were not available to them before."
Like you, I know what it is to be afraid. I'm afraid of accidental injury, dismemberment or death. I've been afraid of a pending medical diagnosis. There must be a million different faces to the fears of life.
I'm tempted at these times to hope for, and pray for, a way to avoid the danger ahead. I want to be safe, secure and healthy. But none of us is always safe, secure or healthy. So, I, too, have come to see that the better prayer is for courage to face whatever life may bring. And in some place deep inside me, I am not only convinced that the courage will come and not fail me, but that it will be enough. Always enough.