Prayers for the All Whites

November 2009

About 4 weeks ago, a group of us went to see the All Whites vs Bahrain football match. For those of you who don't know much about New Zealand football team (just like me), they are called the "All whites". People who support them would dress in white or have white on them. This was an important match because the winning team would qualify for the World Cup Final next year in South Africa.

Before the game started I heard our friend say to my husband that the All whites have to win by more than 1 goal, so I was thinking 0-2, 1-3, etc.  As the game progressed, there were 3 or more near goal misses for the All Whites. Everyone was cheering, screaming getting all excited, all their attention was on the match. Goals are hard to come by in football, there is always an element of luck needed, so I thought well instead of screaming and cheering like everyone else, I should pray… not for luck, but for blessing!

So I looked up into the dark night sky and imagined travelling out through that sky, through the galaxies to where God is looking down upon us. And I began to pray “Father, there are many prayers that are being said right now by many people on earth for all kinds of things, and I know you hear them all, so here is my prayer - honestly and frankly - please give New Zealand a goal 'cos they keep missing it!”.

Minutes later a goal was scored, I couldn't believe my eyes. People were cheering and screaming even louder, celebrating. As I joined in the cheering, I looked up to the sky and said “THANK YOU Father THANK YOU. I know it's you, you just answered my prayer! Thank you, you are an awesome wonderful God!

Then the whistle for half time came, and the game stopped for a break.

People started to mingle about to get food, drinks, go to the toilet, etc. Where we were sitting, people had to go up the stairs to walk past us to get to the exit. Most people were looking down, watching the steps they were taking, but just then a man dressed all in white (obviously supporting the All Whites) walked past me and looked at me in the eye. It was such a powerful eye contact that for a moment I was locked in it. As he looked at me, he lifted his finger and winked at me, nodding his head at the same time. Something went into my heart – it was as if he was confirming that he knew of my prayer and that it was a good thing to do - because it was just answered. I was flabbergasted, overwhelmed. My eyes followed him as he disappeared into the crowd.

When the second half started, I tried to look for him again but I could not find him. I continued looking until the end of the match but never found him or saw him again. 

In the second half, I continued my prayer and asked God to help New Zealand to win. I also prayed for a second goal (because I thought that was what was needed). Then suddenly I saw that Bahrain was awarded a penalty, "What?!! I thought. No way!". I thought that they were bound to score because a penalty is the easiest way of scoring a goal. So I ramped up my prayer, "Lord, please don’t let that ball go in!". I squinted one eye closed and one eye opened, watching the penalty about to take place. As the penalty was taken, I couldn't believe my eyes, the ball didn't go in!!!

I screamed for joy and once again I prayed,"THANK YOU, THANK YOU LORD, that's incredible that the ball didn't go in. I know it’s your doing Lord, thank you!"

But then a few minutes after that, Bahrain scored a goal, my heart sank and I thought, "Oh no, NZ is back to square one, they will have to score even more goals now".  I looked at the big screen for the score update but to my surprise, it stayed at 1-0 to New Zealand. I didn't understand, so I asked my husband why they hadn't updated it to 1-1, and he told me the goal was disallowed.  "What?!", I thought, "no way.. really, oh Lord! It's you again - I know it, I know it!". So for the rest of the game, I prayed and prayed for an extra goal, "just one more Lord", I said, "just one more", but the game ended with not another goal. The score was still 1-0 to NZ. I thought then that God had not answered my last prayer.

At the blow of the final whistle, everyone jumped for joy! I didn't understand. I know that NZ won the match but it wasn't enough to get them through to the World Cup Final, so why was everyone celebrating? Again I turned to my husband and asked him for an explanation. He then told me that NZ had gone through, no extra goal was needed because Bahrain didn't score a goal at all (something about an away goal is worth 2 points or something like that).

Then I realised that God had answered not only my prayer in the first half but also in the second half, and not in the way that I had asked or expected. I was praying for a 2-goal difference in the match tonight, but it appeared that this was taken care of by the away goal that NZ had scored in a previous match. I was able to jump for joy like the rest of the crowd and gave praise and thanks to God.

I believe God hears our all prayers. Sometimes He answers just as we expected, but at other times, He answers differently to what we expected. At the end of the day, we just have to pray and trust in Him that whatever happens is for the best, and don’t forget to keep on giving Him thanks in all circumstances (be it good or bad).

1 Thessalonian 5:16-18

 16 Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Photos of the game can be seen here.