Fort Ridgely State Park, located along the Minnesota River, was not far from one of the churches that I served in rural Minnesota. There was an annual celebration at the park when three of the town churches would host an ecumenical worship service at the Fort’s amphitheater.
The late 1980 and early 1990’s were dry years. Having just gone through the rural crisis, the farm economy was stressed. But now they were struggling financially because of the shortage of rain. Everyone was worried about their crops when we gathered for worship at Fort Ridgely my third summer. My role on that June day was to offer the prayers that people were writing out for us. Not surprisingly, given the drought, there were prayers for rain. Many prayers for rain. One person had asked for rain, but not until after the celebration was over, which produced some giggles. In the middle of all the miscellaneous prayers for family and friends, one prayer stood out. It was a prayer for rain at just the right time, to produce a crop. Which was when the mystery of it all began.
Throughout the summer, in that area of the state, rain fell at just the right time to produce a crop. There was never too much. Each drop was precious. There was just enough moisture. We marveled often over the summer and fall, as the crops grew and the harvest was plentiful at how perfectly our prayer for rain was answered. At Bible Studies and coffee hours, meetings and informal times we talked about the Fort Ridgely prayer. I don’t know who wrote the prayer request, but I suspect it was a person who walked daily with their Lord. One who trusted God to provide and prayed for just what they needed.
There is much about prayer I do not understand. Too many of my prayers for people I care about have not been answered the way I hoped they would be. If once I subscribed to a formula theory for prayer, I’ve long since left those prayers behind. I often pray that God will do what is right and good for a person, trusting that God wants good in a person’s life and knows what is best for each of us. I ask for wisdom for those who are searching for direction and peace for those who are troubled of spirit. I pray for healing and sometimes I just ask for a miracle, because nothing less would convey what is in my heart.
Now and then, I remember that day at Fort Ridgely and a prayer request, for just the right amount of rain to produce a crop. And I remember how it rained that year, at exactly the right time, over and over again.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 NIVUK