Where I grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, it sometimes rains two-hundred days in a year, with total annual rainfall of about forty inches. Nobody gets a tan there... they rust. In Amarillo, the average annual precipitation in about twenty inches. It doesn't rain often, but when it does, it doesn't just drizzle!
It hadn’t rained in Israel for forty-two months! Not a drop! But when Elijah prayed, it rained a Texas toad-floater, a gully-washer, a cloud-burst, a rain-storm of Biblical proportions!
God had just convincingly won the contest on Mount Carmel, defeating the impotent Baal and destroying his evil-hearted priests. Immediately, Elijah retreated to the mountain-top to pray, interceding on behalf of the parched land and its thirsty people.
Before climbing the hill, Elijah turned to Ahab, who sat slack-jawed, surveying the defeat and devastation. Elijah had toyed with the pagan priests. “Baal must be in the outhouse... pray louder!” Now he toyed with Ahab. “Hey king! Take a coffee break! Put your feet up and eat a bonbon... watch this! God’s about to break the drought!” “Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a rainstorm’ ” (1 Kings 18:41). Ahab couldn’t hear an approaching storm, but by faith, Elijah did.
Alone, atop the mountain, Elijah bowed before Heaven. “He bent down on the ground and put his face between his knees” (1 Kings 18:42). Elijah trusted the God who created both heaven and earth. He trusted the God Who provided at Cherith and at Zarephath. Elijah trusted the God who rained fire.
After praying a few minutes, Elijah asked his servant to scan the horizon. “See anything yet?” “So he went up, looked, and said, ‘There’s nothing’ ” (1 Kings 18:43). Noah had once scanned the sky hoping to see the smallest glimmer of the sun and a tiny patch of blue. Elijah prayed for the smallest patch of clouds. Persistently, he prayed. Again and again, he prayed. Seven times, the servant was commissioned to scan the skies over the distant Mediterranean. Finally, “on the seventh time, he reported, ‘There’s a cloud as small as a man’s hand coming up from the sea’ ” (1 Kings 18:44).
While the sky was still bright blue, Elijah instructed Ahab to go home. “Quick! Before the roads are washed away! “Get your chariot ready and go down so the rain doesn’t stop you” (1 Kings 18:44).
What happened next? “In a little while, the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and there was a downpour” (1 Kings 18:45).
Let me ask you... do you expect it to rain? I mean, when you ask God for rain, do you expect Him to answer? Do you expect the clouds to bust open with a down-pour of God’s blessings?
“Elijah was a human being as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit” (James 5:17–18).