Gracefully praying for the rains

42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

1 Kings 18:42-46 NIV

Elijah – one of my all-time favorite people in the Bible. When I get to heaven, I want to look him up. I have questions for him – want to have a conversation with him.  He is an Old Testament Prophet.  It is amazing that every time I read about his life it seems to apply to my life and there is always something in it for me.  I hope there is something in it for you as well.

Let me give you a little backstory leading up to the verses above. God told Elijah to inform Ahab that the drought they were experiencing was about to end. It was going to rain.

Has God ever told you something? I don’t think I have ever been told anything as big as any of the things Elijah had been told.  But I have definitely been told things by God. The last thing is a future promise – God said “Hey, this drought in your life – these areas that have dried up – these things I have promised – the rains are coming.” And I was all, “ok!”.

Elijah says to Ahab, get outta my face and go eat or something ‘cause it’s about to rain and pour around here.  Yet the sky were clear, not a cloud in site.  So Elijah climbed the mountain to pray.
I’ve been there, so recently. I have what seems like an impossible prayer to pray without a single sign to confirm, areas of drought and promises of rain… and I just pushed everyone away and climbed that mountain and prayed. God told Elijah it would rain – God told me it will figuratively rain – we both climb the mountain and pray.

Literally 2 verses before this passage, is a passage about Elijah praying fire down from heaven. Elijah prayed a pray that was 2 verses long and BOOM! Fire from heaven! OH GLORY!!!  So why doesn’t Elijah just pray down the rain with a simple verse? He must persevere, pray and pray it through again and again. God told him – but yet he still had to do the work.
I pray about the promised rains in my life – I pray and pray and persist in prayer.  

It’s an interesting thing, we do not get to heaven by works – but sometimes we have a lot of work to do in order to get our promises from God.  And by work, I do not me charity and volunteering –  I mean growing in faith, working out our salvation, drawing closer to God, learning obedience and humility and forgiveness – and learning love.

Let’s say your drought is health related and your promise is healing. I am using this as an example because this next Bible passage makes a good point. So, have you ever prayed for healing and instead was told you had to work at it? Let me show you something:

So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.

2 Kings 5:9-15 NIV

Naaman was promised healing – but he did not want to go to the yucky river and wash. Couldn’t he have a diagnoses that would get him some sort of magical drug? Can’t you prescribe a pill that will work? Something that did not require obedience? Once he did it, he discovered that a. the treatment wasn’t that bad and b. the healing was there for him!

Sometime we have to pray it through 7 times on a mountain like Elijah or as Elisha said: Go jump in a river 7 times – but sometimes we have lessons to learn through the process as well as God taking that time to set everything up for the rains (or healing) to come.  Meanwhile (back to 1 Kings 18:42) we must also persist in prayer.  

Oh, but then there is the 7th time!! Whoo-Hoo!!  (By the way, this doesn’t actually mean the 7th time you pray. I have been praying for over a year for somethings. It is always God’s time, not ours. But when it is time God will do it quickly! Amen!)

Verse 44 – Elijah’s servant, on the 7th time checking the sky for clouds, sees a man’s hand sized cloud. I wonder if I was there, would I ask: That tiny little cloud will bring this big promised rain?!  In my own life – at every tiny glimmer of hope of my promised rains I get encouraged, thank God and I know the rains will be coming soon, so I hope I would not have looked at that tiny cloud and doubted. 
I can see how one might doubt. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted to doubt in my promises – especially with friends who mean well and do not want me to get my hopes up and then crushed. I understand they mean well, but get behind me satan while I encourage myself in the Lord and believe this tiny cloud can relieve a great drought.

Elijah, hearing of this tiny cloud, knows the Lord well and tells everyone to get home safely and fast. Unwavering belief that this tiny cloud is the start of a God given miraculous blessing! Sometimes it seems to take more time than we would like, but the Lord says when he does it, he will do it quickly! And Elijah knows this and doesn’t even wait for them to hitch the horses – oh no, Elijah takes off like the Flash and runs back to town!
“I will accomplish it quickly in its time.” Isaiah 60:22

I am somewhere between the tiny cloud of hope and the rains.  The hope encouraged me – but… did anyone think this through? Rains like this cause floods and can damage. Was there a moment when Elijah feared the rains – if so, was it the moment he sprinted back to town?? Was he actually afraid of the promise? Did this fear come early enough that it caused slight doubt, is that why he had to pray seven times?

Sitting here, not knowing how much longer, but soon – I see the little cloud.  The drought in the different areas of my life are about to end. And I am, curiously enough, a bit afraid.  I find myself wondering if maybe I don’t want it – I have survived the drought, I am comfortable – why change? The raven have provided for me. I drank from the muddy dried up creek. Yet I survived.

Oh I talk myself out of those types of moment – I am sure it is only human to be a little anxious about change and the unknown. God understands and gives us 365 verses reminding us not to fear.  And while struggling with this humanity, this flesh, I wonder why God fights so hard for me and why he loves me so much.  But He made me and had a plan for me – so of course he is trying diligently to work it out. I may not see these rains coming yet – but I thank God for the cute little man’s hand sized cloud. If not for grace, but I will make it through. Maybe I should make room for all this rain that is coming!

Grace be with you ~Thank you for reading ~ be healthy and blessed ~ Pray for our nation ~ pray Psalm 91