Waking up in the dim morning light, I listened to the rain pelting our tent. It was the last day of our church’s mission trip to Mexico and the first day I’d overslept. My muscles were sore from three days of manual labor and my head foggy from not sleeping well. The sunny weather that started the week had given way to grey cloud cover that eventually turned to a steady rain. I groaned inwardly but tried to be positive as I prepared to wake the six teenage girls in my tent.
Before climbing out of my sleeping bag I prayed silently, asking God to give me strength. Later, I realized my prayer fit perfectly with what I’d been learning in First John. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15, NIV)
I could have focused on our circumstances and prayed for the rain to stop. Instead, I focused on our hearts, praying for things God promises in his Word. I knew he would give us strength, because I’d been assured of it in Paul’s writings: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NIV)
I also knew that to make it through the day our group of 275 students and adult leaders had to remain positive and encouraging. We needed to work in unity and to look beyond the wet day of physical labor that awaited us. It was vital to keep the right perspective as we slopped through the mud to finish building fourteen houses for impoverished families. We couldn’t control our circumstances, but we could control our attitudes about them.
It was our sixth day away from home and our fourth day of work. Tempers could easily have flared as people were worn down from working hard and being away from the comforts of home. And yet, instead of grumbling about the less-than-ideal conditions, the group rallied to make the best of it and to support one another. This, too, was God’s will and exemplified Paul’s writings in Colossians:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14, NIV)
I thanked God as I worked with my team carrying buckets of cement, sand and water to hand-mix stucco for the exterior walls. They smiled and sang, encouraging each other and making jokes to keep the mood light, despite the continued rainfall and the challenging conditions. Again, I realized God’s will was clearly evident in their behavior as I thought of another verse: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14, NIV)
As the afternoon wore on, most groups in the neighborhood were putting the final touches on their houses. However, one group was scrambling to finish due to a week full of unexpected setbacks. Since my team was finished, I walked over and joined with people from other build teams to lend them a hand. Tension hung in the air as we worked to finish the house. Ankle-deep mud and cramped workspaces made it difficult to move without falling. Dogs and playing children ran through the site, creating an even more chaotic environment. I knew the team leaders were feeling anxious about finishing the house by the end of the day so I prayed God would bring a spirit of peace to them and to the site. Later I realized I’d known to pray for peace because I’d read it many times before: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)
By the time the buses arrived, every house was finished. More importantly, the build teams had maintained positive attitudes and willing spirits throughout the day. We’d kept our eyes on showing God’s love to the homeowners and to one another.
Climbing onto buses at the end of the day we were wet, sore, and tired, but filled with joy. We had given our circumstances to God and had prayed for his will to be done. The end result was that fourteen families had solid homes to shelter them and 275 students and adult volunteers experienced the power of being used by God to accomplish his will.
That rainy day in Mexico will stand out as the most memorable one of the week for me. I saw the power of praying God’s will and recognized that prayer isn’t about removing obstacles or increasing our comfort, but about aligning with God’s plans
Do you want a confident prayer life? Make it a priority to know God’s will by studying his Word. Then stand back and be amazed as he answers.
Click on the link to enjoy Hillsong United’s song “Hosanna.” Make the lyrics your prayer today.