We may pray for something but not be happy when we get an answer.
The sky stretched a deep blue from horizon to horizon. Not a cloud. Just blue sky and the sun. Farm fields don’t do well with only sun. The fields of the Smiths, the Joneses, the Andersons, and the McCoys got more dried, cracked, and dusty every day.
One night they all got together.
“You know,” Smith said in his oversized bib overalls, “we’re goin’ to lose all our crops.”
“We gotta do somethin’,” McCoy muttered, his round face contorting behind a handlebar moustache.
Anderson smiled. “I saw the preacher today.” His pale blue eyes beamed out of a blond-framed sunburn. The others cranked their necks at him.
“Well?” Jones demanded. His nose twitched pensively over his dark, wiry frame.
Anderson’s eyes twinkled, “He’s praying for rain.”
The others leaned back. Their sun-dried faces cracked with the beginnings of smiles.
“Prayin’ for rain?” Jones said.
“Yup. Praying for it. And he’s serious, mind you. Says it’s the only way we’ll get it.” All four looked back and forth at each other. Anderson leaned forward, “Well, what do you say?”
“Let’s do it,” Smith said.
“We’ve tried everything else,” muttered McCoy.
“We’ll pray for rain!” Jones shouted.
The four of them stood, patting each other on the back, got their wives, children, and dogs, and headed toward the corner of the field where their tracts of land met. The dirt billowed into clouds of dust as they all walked along.
They sat themselves in a circle and began to pray. One by one. The women prayed the loudest and longest. The men said what they had to and forgot the rest. For two hours they prayed. They looked up, but the sky was hard and dry.
“We’ll pray again tomorrow,” Anderson said.
“We ain’t got nothin’ else to do,” muttered McCoy.
The next day they all met again in the same place, this time with ground cloths and some picnic lunches of what dried up food was left in their pantries. They prayed again. This time in unison, loudly asking for rain. The sky was still blue. The land was still dry.
“Well, how about tomorrow again?” Anderson asked.
“We’re in,” piped the Jonses.
“Us too,” said the Smiths. “We’re really getting to enjoy this.”
“Yeah,” muttered McCoy. “It’s not bad. We’ll be here tomorrow.”
The next day found them all there with their Bibles, praying and reading Scripture about rain. They prayed it and claimed it. This time a few clouds appeared.
“We’ll see y’all tomorrow,” Anderson announced in closing.
The others all chimed in return, “Yup. See you tomorrow.”
“See you then.”
“Lookin’ forward to it.”
Tomorrow came and they gathered again. This time they brought song books and sang about rain. They sang and proclaimed and expected.
About halfway through Jones felt a drop. Then Smith felt one. Anderson felt one. McCoy felt one. Then drop after drop. They looked up, and there above them the sky had turned almost black with clouds. The drops got bigger. Then more of them—split, splat, splash. Before they knew what was happening, they were sitting in the middle of a downpour.
“Aaauuuw shucks,” Anderson shouted. “I was just getting into my prayer.”
Mrs. Jones frowned, “This husband of mine finally gets to praying and then this rain.”
Mr. Jones looked up skeptically, “This wasn’t the kind of rain I was expecting.”
“Yeah, I was hoping for something more like we’ve had before,” said Smith.
“My Bible’s getting wet,” muttered McCoy.
“Then this can’t be from God,” Mrs. McCoy shuddered.
The Smiths started packing up. “What a mess this is going to be! Ain’t nothing to do but get out of here. These fields will be nothing but mud.”
The four families packed and trudged their separate ways to sit in their living rooms and wait for the rain to stop. Hopefully this rain would get over with soon so they could get back to God’s business of praying for it.
For Thought and Discussion
- Have you ever prayed for something and then not liked the answer? If so, what happened?
- How has Isaiah 43:18–19 been true in your own experience? Do we sometimes “not perceive” what God is doing? How has God worked in your life without you knowing it?
- Have you ever “gone through the motions” in your church or spiritual experience? Describe what you did. To what degree is it worth it to engage in religious activities—when is it good and when is it not?