written: October 16, 2000
A rural farmer-preacher was sent into a small American city to fast and pray. It had not rained in the city for many days. The pastors were praying in the city hall where they kept the large plastic statue of the school mascot, the small metal emblems of corporate sponsors and civic clubs, and the national flag they called “old glory” with gilded fringe around the edge. The pastors, at the farmer’s request, read 2 Chronicles 7:14, and began praying fervently for rain.
The pentecostal pastor opened up by praying in tongues. The charismatic pastor began to rebuke the various spirits who were withholding rain from the city and many times they bound satan till he could move no more. The baptist preacher reminded God of how he had stopped backsliding ten years ago. The catholic priest invoked the name of Mary and her son. The orthodox priest had a very balanced prayer in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The presbyterian minister reminded God of the catechism. The mennonite elder pleaded for peace to be restored to the city. The methodist minister asked God why he wasn’t sending revival or rain even after he had organized this meeting. The independent fundamental preacher refused to come to the meeting because it was too ecumenical. The ecumenical chaplain at the hospital was too busy counseling patients to pray. The quaker kept waiting on the Spirit and was moved to do nothing.
When the hour for prayer had finished: the farmer confessed his attitude of pride and stubbornness and the factions he had allowed to grow in the small country church. He wept over the disunity of the church and mourned over the drunkenness & violence of his people. He pleaded for mercy upon the students and confessed that he had not been faithful to reach out to the high school kids. He admitted that he was more concerned about who won the latest ball game than if the players on the team were truly following Jesus. He continued weeping as he confessed to war crimes he had committed while he was in Vietnam and to the crimes of his fathers in earlier wars. The poor farmer couldn’t stop crying as he thought of all the injustice that had been perpetuated in the city and the lies that had been told in the city government. By this time, all the others began to quietly leave the building wondering what was wrong with that farmer. They wanted to encourage him by telling him that even if his crops failed they would help him out. But he went on praying.
Finally, when he was the only one left, the tears stopped. And the farmer began quietly praising God for his mercy and his kindness. He honored God as the Sovereign Ruler and Jesus as the Head of the Body and invited the Holy Spirit to fill him. He went home singing songs he had memorized from the hymn book, reciting the Psalms his mother had drilled into him, and even made up a new song in the Spirit. And as he left the city limits, a cloud moved over the country-side.
And as he arrived home, rain began to fall; and by nightfall, the rain poured out on the countryside where the preacher and the believers under his care farmed. But the city remained dry, and the city park continued to grow more barren as each day passed.
[On the day that I wrote this, God sent rain as my heart had desired.]