Elijah had climbed this mountain more than once in his day and had done so not long before this. Yet, it was still an arduous climb for him though his servant was along to help. The Lord’s word had been clear. He had shown himself to King Ahab, so now the Lord would send the rain. Selecting a spot near the summit he got down on his knees and put his face between them.
“O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, today let it rain again on the earth so that it will be known that you are God in Israel and I am your servant.”
With that, Elijah raised up and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So, his servant climbed up to the summit of Carmel, looked out over the Great Sea and returned to Elijah. “There is nothing.”
So Elijah bowed down again: “O Lord, God of our fathers, today let the rain come upon this dry ground for it has been three and a half years since it has tasted rain. Let all Israel know that you are God and I am your servant.” With that he said to his servant: “Go back.” Again, he looked out over the sea. Still nothing.
So Elijah bowed again: “O Lord God of Hosts, your people languish for lack of rain. Our crops struggle and wither. Our flocks and herds pant even in the cool of the morning. Bless us with rain from heaven.” To his servant: “Go back” Again, nothing.
His cloak comes off. The sweat is now flowing freely. The Lord is entreated again. The servant is sent. Nothing.
But Elijah is not deterred for the Lord has promised rain. He will not stop until it comes. So again and again, he prays. He prays fervently. He prays believing the Lord’s words. After the eighth prayer, and the eighth trip up the summit, the servant returns with a word: “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” Elijah sends him to warn Ahab. Soon, the sky grew black. Then a heavy shower. The rain had come. (Now, that’s prayer.)