There are often special fasts for rain in our region. Yesterday, my brother mentioned that there was a fast on for rain for farmers currently, and asked what we think happens as a result of such fasts: do they ‘work’? So I thought about it, and this is what I thought…
Obviously, it’s a worthy cause: the farmers need rain, and we depend on them. And as obviously, God is merciful and answers His children’s prayers when they pray with faith – and that is the key. Faith is a principle of action. To ask God, with faith, to send rain for relief must mean you intend action in connection with that request. What action do people intend, then, when they do this?
Will they be more careful with their own water use, so the city doesn’t draw so much water from the regional environment? (Consider Las Vegas recently, and how they have drained the natural water sources in their state). Will they consider what they buy, and how much water has been used in its production? Why would God bless a people with rain, in or out of season (in our area, it’s out of season – the windiest, driest months of the year) who waste that resource consistently? Do you really care about ‘the farmer’ – enough to buy milk at fair prices all the time and shop where you can find localised produce? (Localised means the production process is fair to the producers).
Will God bless farmers with rain who aren’t faithful stewards of their land, but poison it with chemicals and grow crops or raise stock unsuitable for its conditions (including animals and crops which require enormous amounts of water not naturally available in the region)? Will your faith-fueled action include supporting sustainable and regenerative practices which bless and renew the land and the people who eat its products? Will you think beyond cost-saving or habit and towards the long-term, wider-ranging effects of your food choices? Will you use your money for foods that harm or heal your bodies?
These are the kinds of questions I consider when I wonder about the efficacy of special fasts for rain – which happen often in Australia, because we are “a land of drought and flooding rain”. What else are people doing beyond praying and fasting? How are they helping God to answer it in the way they seek? Every blessing comes with a natural principle that must be followed. We are stewards of this earth, and stewards care for, nurture, and increase goodness and beauty in their stewardships. They do not exploit or neglect them, through ignorance, fear, or other concerns, such as personal gain.
I feel like the prophesied end of the world will come in part because too many people can’t be bothered to prevent it. Yes, it’s inevitable, but because of how people are. We could present a world filled with beauty and real prosperity (in the Lord’s way – D&C 104:17) to the Saviour at His coming; I think there’s a possibility for that. But the destruction and decay will overcome so much of the world because people allow it. The extent of Zion – places of refuge, beauty, peace, hope – depends on its inhabitants. So I think that when we pray for relief from conditions exacerbated by man’s actions, we need to take responsibility for our part, and work with God to heal them.