Seems like such an odd thing to be praying for, considering that part of our nation has seen some of the worst flooding in 100 years.
So, maybe it is a prayer for the spiritual realm instead of the physical, but the concept comes from a very physical and tangible concept.
God showered it over me last week: the former and the latter rain.
I know what you are thinking, "What on earth is the former and the latter rain?!" Because that was what was running through my head when every verse I encountered had to do with this subject.
James 5:7 "...he hath long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain."
Deuteronomy 11:13-14 "...if you obey...I will give you the rain of your land in his due season...the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil."
Job 29:23 "And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain."
Proverbs 16:15 "In the light of the king's countenance is life, and his favour is as a cloud of latter rain."
Hosea 6:3 "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD, his going forth is prepared as the morning, and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."
Joel 2:23 "He gave the former rain moderately, he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain in the first month..."
Jeremiah 5:24 "...neither say they in their heart, let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season, he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest."
Zechariah 10:1 "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them the showers of rain, to everyone, grass in the field."
I am not trying to take things out of context...just wanted you to see that this concept is everywhere!
But, what does it mean?
On a surface and very practical level, the Palestinian area where Israel is only receives a significant amount of rain a couple of times a year. The first time is in the autumn months...around September or October. This rain is for the purpose of preparing the ground for seed to be sown. It sometimes only comes as a dew, but it softens the ground enough for the seed to take root into the earth.
The next rain comes in the spring, around April or May. It comes just before harvest time, which occurs around June. This rain develops and grows the crops so that the harvest will be plentiful. It is a harder rain than the former rain.
I am not a dummy. It would require great faith to live in this kind of environment and expect a crop every year.
Sometimes what is physical for the Jewish people can be spiritual for the church. So, what would that look like for us? Why should we be concerned with a concept known as former and latter rain?
Many associate rain with the Holy Spirit (see Is. 44:3-4). What if rain could be tied to a soul harvest? If the former rain softens the soil and allows a seed to be planted, then maybe God uses our witness in this way. God softens a person's soul, waters the seed that has been planted, and a harvest comes later on.
The rains always had to do with a harvest, so if we are going to apply it to our spiritual lives, then we can't forget this! How might this work for believers?
In Clarke's words, God wants to do two things:
1. Impregnate the seed when sown
2. Fill the ear of wheat near the time of harvest (He wants to ensure what was promised.)
How might this apply?
Here are just a few ways...
1. We can ask God to sow an understanding of Jesus and His word...to rain on it til it is manifested in our lives! (We can ask the Holy Spirit to rain on our talents and gifts and use them for His glory!)
2. We can look around and see what God is doing in our lives and ask God to send rain to bring about the result (for our family, God has sown a seed for loving the nations and we are asking God to bring rain to show us what to do with that love.)
3. We can ask God to send rain on our children's souls...that He would soften the ground for salvation, or rain on the Word that has been implanted in their lives...so they will know Him and live their lives to glorify Him.
4. We can ask God to restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2) (Through sin, suffering, and/or trials, things in life may have been stripped away...we can ask God for rain to send a bountiful repayment.)
5. We can pray for rain to fall on our finances...that what we have will go far...and that if He wants to bless us with more, that it will be used for His purposes and name sake.
6. We can pray rain over our church and country. (We can pray for a turning from sin and a turning to God's pure heart...we can pray that rain might lead to a revival of sorts...a true soul harvest.)
7. We can pray rain over our friends' wombs that are longing for children...that God would prepare the "ground" and fatten and grow that baby until the "harvest."
What seeds are you desiring to be planted? They can be spiritual and physical! Pray for the former rain...to soften and prepare the ground for it to take root...and then pray for the latter rain, expecting God to come through on His promise!
I think Jesus wants us to know that He is our former and our latter rain. He came softly the first time, as a suffering servant. But, when He comes again, it will be as the King of Kings, noticeable, and where everyone will witness His glory. In our lives, He is both, as well....the one who allows things to start, and the one who brings them to completion. Our alpha. Our omega. Our former rain. Our latter rain. Our very living water. (Jn. 7:38)
This idea of former and latter rain goes much deeper when dealing with the nation of Israel, but I wanted to focus on the church today.
What would rain do for you right now? Pray for rain. And then you better open that pretty little mouth of yours wide open!
"For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground:
I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses." Isaiah 44: 3-4