My Dad told Justin and I about this prayer for rain that was written during the 30's, the Dust Bowl era, and published only three times in the history of the Livestock Weekly magazine. They only print it when circumstances grow to be disastrously dangerous. It ran this past month.
My Dad told Justin that he had been asked to pray this past Sunday in front of the congregation. When he prayed, he prayed specifically for things mentioned in this printed prayer, such as "Lord, send a rain that cleans out the gutters, send a rain that pushes out the rivers, send a rain that is a good, heavy, soaking. He said people snickered. Justin looked straight at him, and said, "Well, God tells us to pray specific things, when we need specific answers." They get each other. They are fighting the same thing, in different regions. Daddy nodded, encouraged, and looked down as dust blew through the alley at the salebarn. When you stake your whole life on something, and pour your heart into ranching, a time like this is hard to swallow. When it's your livelihood, and not your flowers your worried about, it changes everything.
Oh, how we need the rain. It's brown, burnt up, & it's hot. Salebarns are recording record numbers of livestock being sold because ranchers and farmers have nothing to feed their cattle. It's a scary thing, one which we can do nothing to control. It's all in God's hands, so we petition Him, and ask you to join
O Lord, in Thy mercy, grant us a rain, and by that we don't mean a shower. We want to go out in our car in the early evening and watch the lightning go ripping across the southwestern sky in hot blue forks as the fat clouds roll in on us from Lampasas County. We want to hurry home to close the house with the first fat drops the size of marbles on a suddenly rising wind, chasing us and plunking on the hood of our car. We want to scramble all over the house just as the first sheets descend, frantically slamming down the windows, while the drops thunder on the tin roof of the porch and lightning blasts illuminate the waving treetops.
O Lord of Hosts, we want to look out of the windows and watch the regiments of fat, close-paced raindrops march diagonally down in sheets, until we can't see the outlines of the street light on the corner and it looks like a great pale luminous ball through the driving drops. We want to hear, about a minute after the first rush, the gurgle in the tin gutters under the eaves, and, in 25 seconds more, the sputter of the downspout and the hollow churning of the water in the cistern.
God of Israel, Isaac and Jacob, let it come down so hard, let the drops dance so high that the outlines of streets and sidewalks seem covered with a six-inch fog of splattering drops. Then let it just keep up for a while, and then begin to taper off, and then turn right 'round and get a lot worse, swishing, pounding, splattering, pouring, drenching, the thunder coming — "Crackity-BAM! Bam - bam - bumble - bumble-bumble" — and the lightning flashing so fast and furious you can't tell which flash goes with which peal of thunder. So that all the women will get scared and climb on top of the feather beds and scream at you not to get too close to the windows. So that in between lightning flashes you can see the dirty yellow gutter water rippling across the street, instead of along its sides.
And then, O Jealous God, repeat the whole act about three times, and in the middle of the second time, we will get out the old tin wash pan and climb the attic stairs to put it under the tiny leak in the roof which usually you can't even notice in an ordinary rain. And after a couple of hours, kind of taper it down, O Lord, to a good, steady rain — not a drizzle — but a business-like one, that keeps up until just about dawn and then spits a few drops occasionally during the morning from a gray sky.
O Shepherd of a Chosen People, when we walk to work that morning, let us see pink, thin-nosed angleworms that have crawled out of the grass and drowned in the sidewalk puddles, and big pools of standing water in every yard, with just the tips of the fresh green grass breaking the surface. Let it knock all the buds off the elm trees, so that streets and sidewalks are covered with a brown snow, except where the running water has gathered into thick scum over the pools around the choked drains.
Then let everyone begin wondering what the rivers are doing, and when we go down to the bridge, make us drive through about two inches of dirty yellow water running over the pavement, and when we get on it, let us watch a pig and two Buff Orpington hens and half a woodshed float by, about three feet under our shoe soles, and Lord, let the farmers holler their heads off about how it will be to wet, now, to get their corn in early enough.
Thou Art My Shepherd, I shall not want if Thou leadest me into green pastures, and beside the still waters, while the little pasture ponds stand full to the brinks of their cement dams.
O God of Battles and Lord of Many Mansions, if you don't want it to rain in Texas, all right. And if you do, all right. But we are weak in faith and pray for a sign such as you gave to Aaron to confound Pharaoh's magicians and sorcerers. Take this business of weather prediction out of the hands of a lot of incompetent Washington Bureaucrats and make it Thy special province. They're playing horse with us, Lord. They promise a rain and all we get is a mangy little thin-flanked shower that you could hang your hat on its hip bones.
Texas is indeed the Promised Land, O Lord, and if it gets a break it will flow with milk and honey. But we can't live much longer on promises. So in Thine own way and in Thine own time make up Thy mind, O Lord, and we will bow before Thy judgment, and praise Thy everlasting name. Amen.