Theo and I were talking the other day, and I mentioned we should play outside after his afternoon nap. (Yes, he still naps sometimes, and it is glorious!) I also said it looks like it could rain, and the wind might pick up, so we might be unable to play outside. Theo asked, “Do you think you could pray that the rain doesn’t come so that we can play?”

Such a sweet thought, but it is a dangerous request. It is a very self-centered approach to prayer. What if someone else needs the rain, like a farmer preparing for a growing season? It is bold to pray that only my needs are met while simultaneously ignoring the needs of others. Controlling weather patterns for a few minutes of playtime is too excessive for me. But then I remember Elijah, who did pray for the rain to stop, and I consider the circumstances of that request.

James 5:17-18 –
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.”

Can you imagine the audacity and resoluteness it would take to pray at this level? A drought of this intensity would cripple a region. He was wiping out all agricultural production for three and a half years. Elijah was affecting not only Ahab and his royal court but everyone in the northern kingdom of Israel and the surrounding regions. This is why the justification of the prayer is essential. Through God’s direction, Elijah was trying to turn a nation back to God and have them stop engaging in pagan idol worship. Elijah is not asking for a few more days of summer but rather a wake-up call to the nation. It may be helpful to know that Baal was the regional god of the storm. Not having any rainfall for three and six months was an indictment of the impotence of Baal. And after the showdown on Mount Carmel, this is the climax of this narrative.

1 Kings 18:36-39
“Then at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet approached and said, “LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant, and [that] I have done all these things at Your word. 37 “Answer me, LORD, answer me, so that this people may know that You, LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood, and the stones and the dust; and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God!””

The nation is chanting and worshiping the One True God again. This is because they have, at least for a moment, realized that their idols are worthless and powerless. And because their hearts have turned back, Elijah can lift the drought.

1 Kings 18:41 – “Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”

No, I am not advocating for us to pray for drastically adjusted weather patterns. Instead, we should have the mindset that God has ordered the world to operate precisely how it has and always will. We should humbly accept our fate, allow God to control the weather, and adjust our lives accordingly. Yet, the example exists that a single man with a nature like our own was able to change the hearts of a nation by praying that it wouldn’t rain. This narrative is a tremendous example of faith, bold prayer, and changing hearts. Many of the things we pray for are mundane and perhaps even profane. Yet the cause and purpose of Elijah’s prayer were to reconcile a nation back to God.
Do we courageously pray that hearts are changed, and that loved ones draw closer to Jesus? Hopefully, like Elijah, you are praying for a change in the weather.