Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Praying For Rain

(I originally wrote this for The Paper almost 12 years ago, but the current drought brought it to mind. We think water is one of the basic necessities of life. But really, droughts (all kinds of droughts) teach us that prayer is just as necessary.

Praying For Rain

I admit that I have prayed for a lot of different things in my life.

I’ve prayed for sick friends and sick pets, for money and for mercy. For material things and spiritual things. For things I wanted but did not need and for things I needed but didn’t really want.

Sometimes the prayer request was just between me and God and sometimes I asked others to pray for me. I’ve prayed for little things; like asking God to allow my pickup battery to have enough juice to start “just one more time” and that that there would be enough gasoline in the tank to get me just one more mile down the road.

One time, I lost a checkbook and spent the better part of the day praying that God would miraculously return it to me or place it where it would be easy to find … He did.

Some prayers requests were lifted for months before God finally answered “yes” instead of “not yet.”

Sometimes the immediate and clear answer was “no” and other times it took months to get that same answer. Of course, not every prayer was a request. Sometimes I just needed to talk and sometimes I needed to say thank you (although I don’t do that enough).

Why all this talk of prayer? Mainly because I was impressed by the pure simplicity of the prayers for rain that many people have been saying during this recent period of drought across the Midwest.

In fact, I saw on television where many congregations and groups have held organized prayer sessions strictly to pray for rain.

What could be more simple and honest than a man asking God to make it rain?

In these modern times of instant messaging, laser surgery, DNA research and space stations, human beings are exploring new frontiers, both internal and external, that have never been tapped into before.

However, it should humble every one of us to know that, without water – without something as simple as raindrops falling on our heads – everything could eventually grind to a halt.

No more online stock trading, no more Monday Night Football, no more trips to the mall on Saturday afternoon. Eventually, without rain, the world dries up. I don’t know about you but when I put that all in perspective, it is a humbling thought.

Ah, there’s the keyword: humbling.

“If my people will humbly pray,” God said in the Old Testament. “Then I will heal their land.” Sometimes we forget to pray and give thanks for rain when the grass is green and the crops are growing, just like we can forget to thank God when our lives are going great and we are happy and content in our careers and relationships. But isn’t it funny how we tend to put a little more emphasis on our prayers and more sincerity in our hearts when we feel humbled by our situation? That’s no accident, you know.

Sure, it would be easy to see the spiritual significance and analogy in this whole episode. The drought could represent a personal struggle in someone’s life while the humble prayer for rain could represent a prayer for renewal or relief from that struggle. Then the rain itself could represent the cool, replenishing miracle that eases life’s hot spots or jumpstarts spiritual growth and confidence.

But we don’t need to make that comparison to appreciate the rain shower that can end our dry spell. Maybe we should simply take it for what it will be: a nice shower. One that begins with the smell of rain through the kitchen window, perhaps on a lazy Saturday afternoon and progresses to the slow pitter-patter of drops on the patio roof and ends with ditches full of water and a lot of soaked people who stood in the downpour just to enjoy it.

In either case, whether you are dealing with a dry spell in your life or a dry spell in your garden, it should still humble you to know that, when relief does come, it will come from above you. From a place; from a Rainmaker and Creator who is higher than you are.

That’s a lesson. The God who heals the spiritual drought is the same God who heals the earthly drought.

We just need to humbly pray.