Herald Journal Columns
May 23, 2005, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

The horse that helped me to pray

By Dr. Tom Rakow, Pastor, Grace Bible Church, Silver Lake

My first year as a student at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, I came across a fascinating story in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

This particular newspaper article told about a high-strung thoroughbred stallion whose speed and offspring had made him the most valuable horse in the world. His name was Seattle Slew, and in addition to winning the coveted Triple Crown (three major horse races), he was also insured for an incredible $120 million.

The article went on to tell how this now-retired racehorse lived a pampered life of leisure and received the best of medical attention. Needless to say, Seattle Slew seemed pretty classy in comparison to the $29 Shetland pony named “Roy” that my parents surprised us kids with one Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Roy was wonderful, and we had lots of fun with him on our dairy farm. However, even the name “Roy” doesn’t seem to measure up to the melodic sound of “Seattle Slew.”

As I read the article about Seattle Slew, I had an incredible desire to be around him. I don’t know why. It wasn’t that I had a long-standing love for horses. On the contrary, I always loved dogs and kind of liked horses (Roy’s ability to remove me from the saddle might have been partially responsible for this attitude).

But, in any case, I found myself praying, “Lord God, your Word says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart’ (Psalm 37:4). Lord, I know this seems kind of foolish, but I ask that you open up the door for me to be around this horse. I ask this in Jesus’ name.”

Now, on the surface, that may seem like a simple enough prayer. However, there are a lot of horses in Kentucky, and especially in the Lexington area. In fact, there are literally thousands of horses and at least hundreds of horse farms.

At the time, I really had no idea how big of a request I was making. And today, knowing more about the area than I did then, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to make such a petition.

Even so, after praying, I put the paper away and went on with my studies. That was in the spring of 1985.

When I returned to school that fall, I needed work. Eventually, I did get a job working for a security company as an armed guard.

And yes, you guessed it. I found myself guarding the world’s most valuable horse – a stallion named Seattle Slew! And, even though his owners probably would not have approved, Seattle and I shared numerous granola bars, orange slices, and peanut butter sandwiches.

Besides letting me be around a beautiful horse, I believe that there were several other reasons that God answered my prayer that day.

First of all, the Lord used a horse to help me pray. In the year and a half that followed, I don’t think there was a single time when I shined my flashlight on Seattle Slew that I was not reminded that God truly answers prayer.

Secondly, I’m convinced that there were some specific people who God wanted to bring me in contact with. One of these individuals was another student from the seminary by the name of Glen. Glen worked as a guard on the day shift.

The Lord used Glen and his wife, Rhonda, to bring about some needed healing in my life. Eventually, Glen officiated at my wedding.

Yet another reason I believe God placed me with this particular horse had to do with another guard, named Lester. As a result of Glen’s witness and my witness, Lester eventually gave his life to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m glad God answered my request that day, even though it seemed a little ridiculous at the time. However, Jesus didn’t say our prayers always had to sound profound or be earth-shattering before they would be answered.

Indeed, Jesus promised in Mark 11:24, “...whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Seattle Slew has since bit the dust. Nevertheless, the valuable lessons that God taught me through this dead racehorse continue to live on.

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