how to stop the rain

As with all of God’s commands, our answer is always why? Why do we need to read the Bible? Why do we need to go to Church? Why do we need to breathe? Why do we need to eat? But this command to pray is often the most difficult to obey. For reading the Bible at least seems to be a something and going to Church at least seems to be a something. These are activities that, while demanding of our time, at least seem to accomplish something. But prayer seems to be just talking that doesn’t appear to accomplish anything when so so much needs to be done right now!

And yet, prayer, like little forgotten David pasturing his sheep, is king. The question is not, “Why prayer?” Nobody ever stays up at night pondering and asking God, “Why prayer?” Because that would be a real prayer. No we ponder in anguish of many feelings while asking and asking, “Why marry?” or “Why work?” or “Why live?” or “Why atoms?” and so on. We pray to ourselves or pray to the god of google or oprah or our best friend who doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life either. But we never ever ask God. Yet the fact that we spontaneously speak to the gods of the air or sea or land proves one thing: prayer has primacy. Prayer is foundational and will always be done.

But because prayer is so basic, we think it is useless and even onerous to pray to God. In the past, I have called it providence that He “refuses” to act without prayer. As if God has quirks! An engineer, through building many houses, comes to love the humble, solid ground more than he loves the house’s vaunted elegance. The layman, however, walks around never thinking of the earth … until it slides or quakes beneath him. The farmer is in love with the soil and sees it as most precious. But only a few would understand the depth of her offering if, instead of fruit, she began selling the rich soil. And so it is with prayer. Everybody prays (mostly to idols) and everybody needs to pray but it is an affront to our idolatrous hearts when prayer is lifted up as the most important thing a Christian ever does.

What Is Prayer?

Prayer is a conversation between you and your God about the world around you and the world within you. We often think of prayer as asking for things. Yet even when we ask for anything, we are expressing three things: 1 This is how the world is. 2 This is who I am. 3 This thing would be good for me. Hence even when we ask for stuff, we are really having a conversation with God about the world within us and the world around us. So when your daughter asks you for a snake because she thinks it is bread, you now get to tell her the difference between poison and food. So again, prayer, fundamentally, is not about getting stuff. Prayer is a conversation between you and your God about the world around you and the world within you. Prayer is the solid ground through which you truly know your environment and your self. Which is to say, those who don’t pray to God are ignorant; ignorant of the world and ignorant of themselves.

But this conversation between you and God is not required to be the codified articulation of “Our Father who art in heaven”. Prayer is also the child who walks with the Father constantly yapping and talking and saying stuff like, “Daddy, Daddy, why do the birds fly? Why do frogs have crooked legs? Why is that man so short? Oooh, a chicken!” And so on. And thereby, through the relationship with her Father, the child comes to know herself and she comes to know everything else. Most importantly though, Father God loves to hear your voice. Like a human father hearing his crying son, God urgently sent Ananias to Paul saying, “Behold, he prays.” Acts 9:10-11 In this way also, God responds to the sound of your voice. Therefore, prayer, although dressed up as a desire to acquire this or that, ultimately exposes an unfathomable Love from God The Father and feeds a growing love for God The Father. This is the love that Jesus expresses at the tomb of Lazarus when He said, “I thank you Father that you have heard me. I knew you always hear me.” John 11:41-42

You may again think of it this way. The soil beneath your feet is prayer. Underneath this rich soil of prayer is the deep bedrock and flowing rivers which we call love. From the perspective of eternity, those who love God will pray and those who don’t love God will not pray. Only through prayer can the believer, a creature of eternity and time Ecclesiastes 3:11, ever discover the Love of God and his love for God. Though He Showers her with Love, she who will not pray, never experiences the rain as His Love and therefore, never loves Him in return. So it is a contradiction to hear a Christian say, “I love God but I don’t pray.” It is like saying, “I love my wife but I don’t look for time to talk to her.” You can only know God’s love and love Him back as you pray.

Knowledge and Power

In addition to knowledge, prayer also grants power. Hence Jesus said that it is through prayer that a man gains the power to cast out certain kinds of demons Mark 9:28-29. Why is this the divine order? I cannot say all because I do not know all. But I do know that through prayer, I exchange worldly ignorance for Godly knowledge. Furthermore, through my relationship with God, I am able to ask Him to radically change a situation that is otherwise immutable.

Joshua, in the middle of a pitch battle, was not instructed by God to ask the sun and moon to stop Joshua 10:12-14. Elijah was not instructed by God to make the rain cease 1 Kings 17:1-3. And 3 years later when God asked Elijah why he had stopped the rain, Elijah twice responded, “I have been very jealous for the Lord.” 1 Kings 19:9-10, 13-14 And that there is the key. Joshua understood that the battle against the Amorites was something on God’s Heart. Elijah understood that God hated the idolatry of the people. They both understood God’s Heart on the nature of the world around them. How does a man come to understand God Own Heart? How does a woman come to be called, “A Woman After God’s Own Heart”? Only through prayer (which includes reading the Bible and obeying Him).

When you know the Heart of God on a matter, when you hate what God Hates and love what God Loves, then He Will Uphold your words. If, out of jealousy for God, you perceive that in time the sun and moon need to stand still, then God will back you up. If you think it needs to stop raining so that the people can learn that The Lord is God 1 Kings 18:39, then God will back you up. So also, you will know when not to call down fire Luke 9:54-56. For this reason, Psalms 37:3-5 tells me to make God my heart so that He can give me the desires of my heart.

Prayer is Life

[[]] Therefore, the power gained through prayer is not the cavalier unchecked weakness of the tyrant or the mob. It is a pure and holy power that can only be used in the context of a relationship with God. He Punishes any attempt to use this power beyond the boundaries of relationship with Him Numbers 20:12. But when this power is used through relationship with God, then suddenly Christians are able to subdue and multiply to fill the earth Genesis 1:28, Acts 1:4-5,8. Therefore, James 5:16-18 is clear to say that the prayer of a righteous man has great power and effect. For righteousness begins through prayer and grows through prayer. Then James reveals that Elijah prayed fervently for the rain to stop and, after three years, he prayed for the rain to start again. That word “fervently” implies that God responded to Elijah’s emotional utterance because Elijah had the right emotions. The right emotions are those that mirror God’s Emotions.

But Elijah is NOT different by virtue of having special spiritual DNA. No. Elijah prayed over and over and over again. Through prayer, he was affirmed in God’s love for him. Through prayer, he knew and became the image of God’s Loves and God’s Hates. He grew so close to God that men began to approach him with a holy fear of God 2 Kings 1:8-14. Through prayer, Elijah spoke as he thought God would have spoken given the circumstances. And God heard him and held back the clouds. So also, God shall do for us, His children, when prayer becomes our life and not just an occasion.

“Is it not indeed from the LORD of Hosts that the labor of the peo­ple only feeds the fire, and the nations weary them­selves in vain? For the earth will be filled with the knowl­edge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
- Habakkuk 2:13-14

Wanna reach out and ask me some ques­tions? Or do you want clar­i­fi­ca­tion on some­thing writ­ten here? If so, write me a let­ter. I’d love to hear from you and I’ll respond. I bet your hon­est ques­tion will pro­duce insights that will ben­e­fit other read­ers.