Burning Bosom

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Fasting and Praying for Precipitation

Posted by Kerry on December 19, 2007

I have several relatives that are in the farming or ranching industry. Many of them live in Utah, and whenever I visit their wards, it is common for public prayers at the pulpit to include pleadings for rain or other precipitation. Often, entire stakes or multiple stakes will have designated fasts for said precipitation.

This practice of asking a higher power for precipitation has probably been around for centuries (if not millenia), and quite honestly to me it feels very appropriate. These people depend on rain for their livelihood, and rain comes from the heavens.

This starts to get interesting when you learn a little more about these professions:Precipitation is essentially an economic benefit. From a rancher’s perspective, if there is no rain, then there is no grass growing for the animals to feed on. He has to go out and buy additional food for them, which means he won’t make as much money that year. Obviously, if this continues year after year, the rancher could “lose the farm.” But in any given year, it is not like the rancher and his family will literally not survive the season if no rain falls. Still, either due to tradition or family ties, the group act of fasting and praying seems appropriate to me.

So, let’s say I open a Subway restaurant. Say business is slow one year. . . would it be appropriate to have a ward fast so that more customers will come into my restaurant and purchase more Cold Cut Combos? Somehow that doesn’t seem as appropriate . . . help me understand why.

One scripture reference to consider is here (highlighted in yellow).

3 Responses to “Fasting and Praying for Precipitation”

  1. Andrew said

    I know what you mean about rain being a financial benefit. I used to do some legal work for a couple water districts. If there wasn’t enough rain, they’d have to buy water for the cities they served, and it wasn’t cheap. When it was raining, the water district folks used to look outside the window happily and say: “That’s a twenty-thousand dollar rain right there.”

    I agree with you that collective praying for rain seems right, while collective praying for more cold cut combo sales seems wrong. Here’s my two cents on why:

    1. It seems wrong because the Cold Cut Combo is just wrong. Yugh!

    2. Only God can control the rain, and praying for rain doesn’t require Him to override anyone’s agency. On the other hand, praying for more sales is like asking God to tamper or, in my case, override someone’s agency to make a purchase.

    3. In your example, everyone benefits from rain, so a collective prayer seems appropriate for a collective financial benefit. But a collective prayer for one person’s financial benefit is a bit odd.

    Incidentally, I remember doing a collective prayer and fast for rain in the late 80’s or early 90’s. I believe it was Pres. Benson who asked all the Saints in the Western states who were affected by the drought to participate. Two weeks later, we had torrential rains for days.

  2. Shawn L said

    I understand it may have a bit of an “ick” factor associated with it, but I don’t really see the problem with collective fasting for an individual’s gain. We do it all the time. For example, back in the dark days (for the Church, not me) when I served as Elders’ Q. President, the Ward leadership often prayed, and sometimes fasted, that Brother X would be able to find new or better employment. That to me is the difference. Praying that the rich get richer strikes me as offensive. However, beseeching the heavens for the economic survival of one of our own seems alright to me.

    By the way, I haven’t eaten at Subway in quite some time (I heart Quizo’s), but I fervently pray that I will never, ever have to see that formerly-fat-now-kind-of-skinny Jared dude again!

  3. Alma tells us to pray over the flocks of our fields that they will multiply. Praying for sheep to reproduce, praying for more cold cuts to sell, its all the same. The doctrine and covenants tells us to pray always. I think that if it is for our own, or another’s benefit, and we are learning to look to the Lord, it is for our good.

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