Focus on the Family recently posted a video urging Christians to pray for rain. When I heard of that, I figured it must be a response to the horrible drought and famine currently occurring in eastern Africa. You see, countries like Ethiopia and Somalia have experienced a terrible drought this year that is threatening more than 14 million Africans. As the food prices have skyrocketed due to the famine, millions are in danger of starvation. Relief organizations are quickly working to bring in desperately-needed food and medical supplies. But unless relief is provided within the next couple of months, millions could die. So, I figured that a call for American Christians to not only give to these relief efforts but also pray for rain would be something that a group like Focus on the Family would advocate.
Then I watched the “Pray for Rain” video narrated by Stuart Shepard. It turns out he is not praying for his fellow humans in desperate need. Instead, he is calling for Christians to pray for “abundant, torrential” rain as a type of political prank. He wants us to pray that God would cause a strong rainstorm that disrupts Barack Obama’s planned acceptance address during the Democratic National Convention. As Shepard explains his hope for God to literally rain on Obama’s parade, he asked Christians to pray for “rain of biblical proportions” that can create flashflood warnings and “swamp” the roads. You know, the kind of rain that can kill people. Shepard claimed that if such rain occurs, he will declare—like God during creation—“that it is good.”
Now, like Shepard, I cannot claim to know the mind or will of the Almighty. However, I wonder about the priorities of someone who thinks we should focus on praying for a potentially life-threatening rainstorm just to spoil a politician’s big speech. I wonder about the priorities of someone who thinks we should focus on praying for political rain rather than life-saving rain for a place ravaged by drought and famine. I wonder about the priorities of someone who thinks we should focus ministry resources on offering prayer requests like Shepard’s.
Perhaps we should consider the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Maybe conservative Christians like Shepard and James Dobson should focus on loving Obama instead of issuing calls for anti-Obama rain. In doing so, they could take the approach of Jesus instead of the tax collectors and the pagans in the story and start praying for good—like rain in eastern Africa.