A San Juan County prayer for rain
Years ago, in the middle of a severe Utah drought, I wrote a prayer for San Juan rain modeled after William Lindsay White’s prayer first printed in the Emporia Gazette in 1935.
In his petition, he writes, in part, “O Lord, in thy mercy grant us rain, and by that we don’t mean a shower.
“O Lord of Hosts, we want to look out the windows and watch the regiments of fat, close-paced raindrops march diagonally down in sheets. We want to hear the gurgle of the gutters under the eaves, and then the sputter of the downspout. . ..”
His invocation has been reprinted whenever Kansas suffers from a dry spell. Rich in humor and specific images, it often miraculously brings rain.
I’ve pondered its power for years, and now scientific studies verify the effectiveness of prayer, especially when we join together.
On June 6, 2021, people of all faiths in our region united in prayer for abundant rainfall throughout the summer. The following is my entreaty for rain.
All power is yours. Great is your glory. You have made all things. The unfolding of the universe comes from your palms. The explosion of stars is mirrored in your eyes.
You hear the tides of galaxies in the holy corridors of your ears. Time is the headband around your brow. Now and then are the same to you. Both the mountain lion and the deer are your thoughts.
After you shaped this small earthen ball in your tender hands, your spirit brooded over the vaporous dark. With a word, you created light, your first day’s work.
On the second, you breathed clouds into existence. Then, you separated the mists above from the waters below. The earth teemed with vitality. The waters poured down from the heavens and flowed up from the earth in one continuous round of life.
Now the rains have dwindled in this land of red rocks and blue mountains. We ask you to pour your power into the clouds over San Juan County.
Hear our prayers, our Creator, for the earth suffers. Bring the clouds, cumulous clouds pregnant with rain from the south and west. Let the waters come.
Let the rain soak the Tables of the Sun, Cedar Mesa, Wooden Shoe, and Elk Ridge. Let it drench the ponderosas, so their long needles drip with liquid silver. Let the scent of pine float upward, the sweet incense of renewal.
Let the rain gleam upon the aspens’ white bark until they look like angels praying in the mist.
Fill Duck Lake with fresh water, so wild creatures large and small can drink deeply and live well.
Let the heavy drops sweep eastward, so the desert becomes a huge drum. Saturate the earth, reaching the deep roots of the pinyons, junipers, and oak brush.
Let us savor the smell of wet sage, the desert’s healing fragrance. Drench the rabbitbrush, Brigham Tea, daisies, and sego lilies. Make the boulders shimmer with sweet moisture.
Fill the washes, tinajas, and ponds, so the spadefoot toads and frogs sing wild choruses of praise and passion. Let the water cascade off Westwater’s cliffs, filling the stream. Let it rain until all thirsts are quenched, all are satisfied.
Envelop the Abajos in rainclouds, nourishing the blue spruce and firs. Let Johnson’s Creek, Spring Creek, and Indian Creek’s waters tumble down the rocky slopes. Replenish the springs and aquifers and Loyds Lake.
Make the roads slippery with mud as the deer, elk, and cattle graze on lush grass, becoming sleek, healthy, and heavy with new life.
Then, move northward to Needles and Canyonlands until the rocks resemble great cathedrals, luminous in the storm.
In our towns, pour the rain down through the trees and splatter the music of your love upon the earth. Make our streets run silver with water. Let our children slosh through the gutters in bare feet and bare heads, drenched by the life-giving storm.
Let us carry umbrellas, dripping and wet, from building to building as the moisture plumps our skin and renews our youth.
Let us lie in our beds at night and listen to the cadence of rain. Let our hearts beat in rhythm with the thrumming drops upon the earth as you fill our reservoirs, our banks with the currency of moisture.
You have said, “When the poor and needy seek water and there is none and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water... That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this.” (Isaiah 41:17-20)
Our God, we know your great powers. In this, as in all things, we acknowledge your wisdom and timing. Let the rain come according to your will and way.
We thank you for calming the wind and restraining the lightning. We thank you for hearing our petitions and making our “wilderness a pool of water,” for we know you hold the aching earth in your loving hands.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.