In mid-November 2007, the Governor of Georgia publicly prayed for rain. There is no doubt but that Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina continue desperately to need rain, although there have been showers recently.
In the historic Book of Common Prayer (1662) the first prayer under the heading, “Prayers and Thanksgivings,” which follows The Litany, is “For Rain.” This points to a deep sense within godly people of that time, that everything in the created order came to them by the sovereign mercy and providence of God. (We today have generally lost this profound sense of dependency, and so to pray for rain is something that we are somewhat embarrassed to do.)
In the American edition of this Prayer Book, The Book of Common Prayer (1928), the prayer “For Rain” comes in the middle of the “Prayers and Thanksgivings,” while it seems to have disappeared from the Canadian Book of Common Prayer (1962). Happily it is in the 1979 Prayer Book of The Episcopal Church in the traditional form found in the American 1928 Book.
Here it is from the 1662 Book:
O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all them that seek thy kingdom, and the righteousness thereof, all things necessary to their bodily sustenance: Send us, we beseech thee, in this our necessity, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort, and thy honour; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Then, also from the 1662 Book (and apparently only here of the Books mentioned) there is a Thanksgiving “For Rain.” It was expected that God would answer prayer and that it was right and good to give him thanks for the “joyful rain.”
O God, our heavenly Father, who by thy gracious providence dost cause the former and the latter rain to descend upon the earth, that it may bring forth fruit for the use of man: We give thee humble thanks that it hath pleased thee, in our great necessity, to send us at the last a joyful rain upon thine inheritance, and to refresh it when it was dry, to the great comfort of thy unworthy servants, and to the glory of thy holy Name; through thy mercies in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the first Prayer, we notice that the Petition for rain, “Send us, we beseech thee…,” follows the humble recognition before God that his promise to us to meet our needs has a divine condition—that we seek FIRST his righteousness and kingdom. And the verb, “beseech,” points to humble servants addressing their King, recognizing that they have no rights before him and therefore must implore his mercy.
Whether this prayer is generally suitable for praying for rain by the folks in the three States is questionable. But in that it may be and in that the majority of the same folks address God as “You” here is the same prayer in a modern form:
O God, our heavenly Father, you who by your Son Jesus Christ promised to all those who seek your kingdom, and its righteousness, all things necessary for their bodily sustenance: Send us, we pray you, in this our great need, such moderate rain and showers, that we may have water to drink, for our homes, gardens and fields, and also receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort, and your glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
As I drove along the South Carolina Coastal road, also in mid-November, I noticed that the many golf courses there (some 36 between Charleston and the North Carolina border) were all using an abundance of water to keep their greens really green! Would there be a water shortage if these did not exist?
May God in his mercy cause the rain to fall upon these States and others which also desperately need rain.
Thanksgiving Eve, November 21, 2007 Peter Toon