Driving is a contact sport in Mexico City. I learned that lesson while sitting in the back seat of a 15-passenger van with my new best friend, Ricky, behind the wheel. Picture Ricky: 5’7” with thick, dark, black hair, nicely cut, with tattoos on many of his visible body parts and two huge earrings dangling from each ear. Ricky can really drive. Ricky made tractor-trailer drivers back down, he avoided pesky motorcycle drivers who hung on the sides of streets like gnats, and he wove the van through the knottiest of traffic tie-ups. He did so with an easy smile on his face and the love of Jesus filling his heart.
Ricky was our driver and each morning, Monday to Friday, he delivered us to the neighborhood of San Sebastian where 150 children awaited our arrival. The 14 members of our Mexico City Mission Team prayed on our way to Vacation Bible School each day. We weren’t praying because of Ricky’s driving. We were praying to prepare ourselves for a day of service.
I created the devotionals that we used for the week. As a part of our Morning Prayer, all the team members made prayer beads. Many different religions use beads as a tool for prayer. A chain of beads offers assistance as a physical aid for prayer. I’m a big believer in utilizing our body in prayer. Some who suffer with mild forms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) have found the use of prayer beads to be helpful. The prayer beads that I made for my mission trip can be seen in the picture along with the two essential and irreplaceable items for my own prayer: the Bible and coffee!
My chain has nine beads in it: the first large bead reminds me to glorify God always. As I touch the bead, I pray, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.” Next, there are seven rough beads that I used for praying against the seven deadly sins in my life: pride, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, greed, and sloth. The last bead is for praying the Lord’s Prayer.
Praying for myself and my life was enormously helpful during my time in Mexico. As I daily asked God to deliver me from the snares of those daily sins, I found that I was freer, more focused, and more present to the children and my team members.
Bill Wilson, co-founder of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, once scoffed at the idea of prayer. As he became sober from alcohol and moved into recovery, he found that prayer was as important to him as breathing. He once wrote about how transformative prayer was for him. “As the doubter tries the process of prayer, he should begin to add up the results. If he persists, he will almost certainly find more serenity, more tolerance, less fear, and less anger. He will acquire a quiet courage, the kind that isn’t tension-ridden. He can look at ‘failure’ and ‘success’ for what these really are. Problems and calamity will begin to mean his instruction, instead of his destruction. He will feel freer and saner. The idea that he may have been hypnotizing himself by autosuggestion will become laughable. His sense of purpose and of direction will increase. His anxieties will commence to fade. His physical health will be likely to improve. Wonderful and unaccountable things will start to happen. Twisted relations in his family and on the outside will improve surprisingly.”
Don’t mistake Bill’s message. Prayer isn’t a lucky charm. No, regular prayer puts me in my place. God is God and I need to love Him, serve Him, and seek Him in prayer. And when I do, I’m not fighting traffic any longer. I’m where I am meant to be.