I was working through a Scripture for a sermon not too long ago and was encouraged by a particular passage I wanted to share.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. ” James 5: 16b – 18
I started to wonder “Have I ever stopped rain with my prayers? Have I ever made it rain with my prayers? If Elijah is just a man like me, then what made him so special?”
The first thing that hit me (and may be a thought on your mind if you are struggling in a season where it doesn’t feel like your prayers are being answered) is from the first sentence….. Am I righteous? Is there anything I’m holding onto that shouldn’t be in my life? Is there any practice on my part that grieves God that I continue to do otherwise? Is there a place I need forgiveness or to give forgiveness? If so, then step one is to take that to the Lord. For some of us, that might mean coming to God for the first time for others, it might mean a return. The good news is we come with a humble heart, “He gives us more grace.” James 4: 6a
So that leaves that when are right with the Lord, our prayers are powerful and effective! So what does this mean when it comes to the rain?
Well, I do believe that if it is God’s will, we can start and stop physical rain with prayer….. but what if James meant something deeper with his metaphor?
I know some of us reading this have been through some real storms in our lives. Times where we can relate to the apostles in the boat during the storm trying to wake up Jesus due to their fear. Times where we feel pelted by the rain drops, the flood waters are rising to our necks, and we feel that we are about to drown.
I also know that some of us reading this have been through times of emotional drought. Our souls are tired, thirsty, and feel like we can barely go on. In our heart, we feel like we are crawling in the desert looking for a drop of rain to bring the smallest touch of relief. In our exhaustion and desperation, we feel like laying down in the sand and waiting for a gentle rain shower or death, which ever comes first.
When we are in these times, we are invited to lean into God (and He will lean into us – James 4:8). Then, with our prayers, we can stop the rains that are overwhelming us or start the healing rain that comes and refreshes us.
With this perspective on the metaphor than my answer to my earlier question is “Yes”. Yes, I have prayed and stopped the rain before. Yes, I have prayed and started the rain of healing and relief. The good news? So can you! Spend some time leaning into God today…….
These thoughts came from a message series from a Bible study in the book of James called “Grow Up”. Those podcasts can be found on-line.