Praying for Rain
by the American Sunday-School Union
It was the first of July. There had been no rain
for several weeks. Every one feared there would
be a drought. The farmer looked anxiously upon
his fields of corn, whose deep green leaves had not
yet begun to turn yellow, and upon the potatoes,
whose blossoms were still unwithered. They could
not long remain thus beautiful and thriving, if the
refreshing rain was withheld. The ground was so
dry that, in hoeing the garden, no moisture could be
Mrs. Dudley talked with her children about the
need of rain, and the propriety of praying to our
heavenly Father to water the earth, that it might
"bring forth and bud," and "give seed to the
sower, and bread to the eater." She told them how
Elijah prayed for rain, after there had been none in
the land of Canaan for three years and six months,
and how God heard his prayer, "and the heaven
gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."
This great drought was a judgment upon the people
of Israel for their sin in departing from God,
and worshipping idols. There had been, in consequence
of this want of rain, a "sore famine." We
read in the book of Kings of one poor woman, who
had only a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little
oil in a cruse. When Elijah met her, and asked
her for water, and a morsel of bread, she told him
this was all she had, and that she was gathering
two sticks, that she might bake it for herself and
her son, that they might eat and die! She know not
where to find any more food for herself or her child,
and expected to "pine away, stricken through for
want of the fruits of the field," and to die with hunger.
Elijah bid her not to fear, but go and do what
she had said. He asked her to make him a little
cake first, and bring it to him, and afterwards make
one for herself and son. "For thus saith the
Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not
waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the
day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth."
It would not have been strange, if this widow of
Zarephath had been unwilling to divide her handful
of meal with Elijah, or if she had doubted the promise
which was made to her, but she did not. She
baked the little cake for the stranger, and afterwards
one for herself and her boy, and there was plenty of
meal and of oil left for another repast. "She, and
he, and her house, did eat of it many days." The
barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of
oil fail, till the Lord sent rain upon the earth, and
her wants could be supplied in the usual way. She
did not lose the reward promised to those who give
a cup of cold water to the friends of God.
God does not willingly afflict the creatures he has
made. He is a gracious God, merciful, and of great
kindness, and has compassion even on the beasts of
the field. When Jonah complained that he spared
Nineveh, because its inhabitants humbled themselves
before him, and turned from their evil way,
after having sent him to prophesy to them that in
forty days it should be overthrown, he said to Jonah,
"Should I not spare Nineveh, that great city,
wherein are more than six-score thousand persons
that cannot discern between their right hand and
their left; and also much cattle?"
In this long drought in the land of Canaan, the
cattle must have suffered greatly, and many of them
probably perished. Indeed, we read that Ahab, the
king of Israel, and Obadiah, the governor of his
house, searched the land for the fountains and
brooks, to find grass to save, the horses and mules
alive, that they might not be all lost.
God is a Father, and, like a tender, loving father,
he removes his chastisements so soon as they have
produced the effect designed. He was "grieved
for the misery of Israel." He told Elijah he would
send rain. The prophet went to Ahab, who, when
he saw him, asked, "Art thou he that troubleth
Israel?" Elijah answered, it was Ahab, and his
father's house, who troubled Israel, because they
had forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and
Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel, and
earnestly prayed for rain. God had promised that
he would send it, and Elijah no doubt pleaded this
promise, as he interceded with him. He directed
his servant to go where he could look towards the
sea. He went and looked, and said, "There is
nothing." Elijah was not discouraged. He knew
God would remember his promise, and he sent
him seven times more. The seventh time the
servant returned, and said, "Behold, there ariseth
a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand."
It grew rapidly larger and larger, till the sky
was black with clouds and wind, and there was a
James, in his Epistle, says, "The effectual fervent
prayer of the righteous man availeth much,"
and he mentions this instance of prevailing prayer
in Elijah, as an encouragement to all Christians to
ask for needed blessings. "Elijah was a man
subject to like passions as we are," he tells us,
and if he prevailed with God, so may others.
God is the "same yesterday, to-day, and forever."
He does not change. He is always a
hearer of prayer.
Mrs. Dudley also told her children that God hears
the cry of all who are in distress. She referred to
one of the psalms of David, where he describes a
storm at sea, and the great terror of the sailors.
"Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and
he delivers them out of their distresses."
God does not forget any creature he has made.
He provides the springs and the streams to give
drink to the beasts of the field, and to the birds
which sing among the branches. He causes the
grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service
of man. He feeds the fowls, and clothes the flowers
with beauty. He has taught us to ask for our daily
bread, and as this must depend upon fruitful seasons
it is proper we should ask for rain, whenever
it is needed.
The children were quite interested in what their
mother had told them. They knew that she earnestly
desired rain, and that she often asked God
to send it, before vegetation perished for want of it.
They watched the sky with great anxiety, and when
it became cloudy, and continued so from day to day,
they thought surely a storm was near. After several
days, there was a slight shower, but not enough
to refresh the plants. Mary was greatly disappointed
"I thought," (she said to her mother,)
"it was going to rain in answer to your prayer."
"I thank God for that little rain," said Eddy, as
he talked about it. Mrs. Dudley told him that was
right, but they ought to pray for more, it was so
The next Sunday Mrs. Dudley was not well, and
could not attend church. When her children returned
she asked Mary if they prayed for rain.
"No, mother!" she answered; "but I did."
The sky continued cloudy for some time, and
then the rain gently fell for a day and a night, and
all nature was refreshed and cheered.
Soon afterwards I left Mrs. Dudley's family.
When I had been absent about a fortnight, I received
a letter from Mary. She told me about the
bantams, and the flowers, and many other things in
which I was interested. She wrote that it had
"rained on Sunday, and all day Monday. I cannot
help thinking," she continued, "how good God is
to send us rain when we most need it, and what
cause we have for thanksgiving."
I hope Mrs. Dudley's children will never forget
that God is the giver of every good gift, and that
he likes to have people ask him for what they need.
Children should think of God as their best friend,
and should go to him in prayer, feeling as sure he
can and does hear them, as they are that their
mother does. In a season of drought they should
ask him for rain, and when he sends it to make
vegetation grow, they should thank him for that
evidence of his loving-kindness.