Inspired by the Old Testament prophet Elijah, a group of Christians in Central Texas are praying for rain amid a severe drought.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Central Texas is experiencing “exceptional drought,” the most severe degree on the scale, marked by “exceptional and widespread crop loss” and “extreme sensitivity to fire danger” while “most wildlife species’ health and population are suffering.”
A pastor from Hays County, Jimmy Darnell, led a group of believers in prayer Monday and told KXAN-TV they will be praying daily over the next week.
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“We got farmers, ranchers, all kinds of folks here, and we’re just asking the Lord to send us rain,” he told the local news station. “Our aquifers are at historic lows. Our rivers are drying up. So we’ve got to have some divine help from heaven.”
The motivation behind the week-long prayer effort, the pastor explained, comes from 1 Kings 18:41-46, where it’s written the prophet Elijah prayed seven days in a row for the Lord to bring rain to the land:
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times, Elijah said, “Go back.”
The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
King Ahab, misguided by his wife, trusted in false gods to provide for his needs. Elijah — much to the king’s chagrin — confronted him repeatedly with his disobedience to the one true God. Because the prophet trusted in the Lord’s promises, his faith was rewarded: the rain came.
Darnell said he is seeking God with the same kind of trust.
Hays County saw light rainfall Tuesday. While encouraging, the pastor said he and his fellow community members are praying for a lot more.
“We’re praying for drought-busting rains,” said Darnell. “By New Year’s Eve, we’d like to have 40 inches of rain.”
The county was met with a similar drought in 2009, when Darnell and other Christians petitioned the Lord in the same way. At that time, they saw 39 inches of rain by year’s end. The pastor is confident they’ll see it happen again.
“When you see different churches and people who don’t even go to church coming out here to pray because they know the need,” he said. “There’s a sense of unity that’s really beautiful.”