We went camping and I wondered about prayer.
Raindrops fell as we unhooked the trailer, unfolded the tent and unrolled the sleeping bags. Puddles rose and we huddled under umbrellas. My ears were stuffed full of the drum of rain on the tarpaulin roof. And we slept.
The children rode their bikes and played races and went on fish hunts. They walked through wet bush, fell in the mud, and laughed. All the clothes got wet and though they hung in the air all day, they stayed wet. Some of the tents leaked. Some of the umbrellas broke. And we got wet.
Did I pray for the rain to stop?
Regardless of whether I did or not, the rain cleared and we sat outside in the late afternoon. We talked together and laughed. The children kept playing and we marvelled at a tiny patch of blue sky. We hoped into it.
It disappeared with the light and we couldn't see the closest moon in twenty years. That was my biggest disappointment. We soothed the children to sleep in scattered tents, then gathered round a fold-out table. Rain pelted over our heads and we sat cosy. Enjoyed a game and some chocolate, then wandered off to bed.
I want to call the rain that night, a deluge. Perhaps it qualified, but who could really know. Canvas filled up with water and overflowed and I stood pyjama-soaked to pull it down. Silent dark tents silhouetted. Rain gusting and sheeting. It was so absurd that I did not wish the moment gone.
I wondered about prayer because I couldn't bring myself to pray the rain away. It felt like a convenience prayer. A prayer to "give me a carpark now, Lord".
Was there reason behind that rain? Did it rescue someone or cleanse something or bring life that was needed? Had someone else prayed fervently for it to fall? Or was it the result of recent cloud and pressure movements in the sky? Did I need that rain, although I never would have asked for it? Will it make me more of what I'm meant to be? If I let it?
So many of my prayers could be "Please don't let it rain, Lord." But what will I miss if those prayers are answered?
I smiled as I read today. He has a sense of humour.
Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.
Both the rainbow and the rain point to his faithfulness.
And I know that other prayers are desperate, that we need answers and solutions because we are not enough and cannot survive. We need his rescue, but do we need it from all the circumstances of life? The rain reminds me he is faithful. And I know that sometimes I am praying for convenience, not rescue.