I had just begun working as a youth pastor at a church in Wisconsin, when I was asked to serve for a week at the denomination’s youth camp for 8–16 year old’s. The camp counsellors all arrived a day early for a briefing on our responsibilities, the camp program, and the students we’d each be responsible for. Being new to youth work, I was excited for this opportunity to learn.
The next day, Saturday, the students arrived. Many had been to this camp before and knew more about the facilities and program than I did. Most of these students were excited to renew friendships and were eager for all the fun events to begin. The zeal and enthusiasm of the 10 boys assigned to me in my tent was infectious. That first night I called the boys together for prayer. All of the boys lifted up prayers of thanks for the camp and the fun and adventures they were looking forward to having. Many prayed for the weather too. One young lad gave a passionate plea, “Jesus I’ve been waiting all year for this week, I am so excited! Please give us sunny, beautiful weather so that we may fully enjoy this week.” My heart fully agreed as I said an emphatic, “AMEN!” Yes, Lord, we need great weather!
The camp was in rural Wisconsin, farm country. Corn fields were everywhere. Sunday morning, we all filed into several school buses and drove to a nearby church. The church was small, in fact there were more campers there than members, but this was farm country and they were expecting us. The women had baked a more than a bus load of cookies and there were lots of homemade goodies for everyone. There was a genuine excitement about the camp and the church was honored to host all these kids.
Soon the service began. It was a normal country church service. The songs and liturgy were fairly ordinary until one farmer moved up front to lead the congregation in prayer. This dear, hard-working man, prayed for the country, their missionaries, the camp leaders and campers, the pastor and church leaders and just as I was starting to lose interest, he burst into tears and with great anguish he prayed, no he begged God saying, “Jesus we need rain. You control all things. We willingly submit to Your Almighty will, but we need rain.” Fighting back the tears he continued, “Jesus You know better than we do that our crops are dying, and Joe here and Fred over there, myself and others could lose our farms, our homes if we don’t get rain soon. Please Lord send us rain! Amen.” I found myself saying a loud “AMEN.” Yes, Lord we need rain!
But now I was conflicted. Rain, or no rain. Kids camping, having fun. Farmers earning a living, paying the bills. How does one pray through these “needs” which are diametrically opposed to one another?
That night around 10pm, after we were all asleep; the thunder rolled, lightening flashed, and there was a huge Midwestern storm. It woke up all the kids in the tent. The rain poured down for over 2 hours straight and then it stopped. The next day we woke to beautiful sunshine. There was some muddy ground in places, but nothing to curtail our activities outdoors. We had a great day and we all feel asleep promptly at 9pm. And guess what, around 10pm another 2-hour downpour. But again, we woke to a cloudless sky and had a great day outdoors.
It wound up raining 5 of our 7 nights at the camp. But from 4 am to 9 pm the entire week, not one drop fell from the sky. Not one activity had to be cancelled or altered due to the weather. The kids had a blast, and the farmers had their rain.
Jesus says, Until now you have not asked the Father for anything in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete. (John 16:24 AMP)
Our Heavenly Father bids us to ask and to keep on asking. We are to ask of Him what we need and what we want, understanding that it’s His job to figure out how to answer our requests.
Is there anything you are hesitating to ask God for?
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for other 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.