In July 2005, at the initative of the National Council of Churches of Australia and others, many Australian Churches began 40 days of prayer in the face of drought. Our local church, St. Philip’s participated. Our minister blessed us all with a sprinkling of water, as we sang:

In water we grow,
secure in the womb,
and speechlessly know
love’s safety and room.
Baptizing and blessing
we publish for good
the freeing, caressing
safe keeping of God.

In water we wash:
the dirt of each day,
its trouble and rush
are carried away.
In Christ re-created
by love’s cleansing art,
self-will and self-hatred
dissolve and depart.

In water we dive,
and cannot draw breath,
then surface alive,
rebounding from death.
Our old self goes under,
in Christ dead and drowned.
We rise, washed in wonder,
by love clad and crowned.

In water we dwell,
for by its deep flow
through bloodstream and cell,
we live, think, and grow.
Praise God, love outflowing,
whose well of new birth
baptizes our knowing,
and waters the earth.

Brian Wren, Tune: Paederborn (1765)

There had been some rain, even flood, in some areas, but very much more was needed to overcome the deep dryness and empty reservoirs left by years of low rainfall. Some areas are still without any rain. But prayer is not simple to ask for rain, but to reflect "in the face of drought". We in Australia, the world’s dryest continent, have not done well in our use and management of water. The is very little reuse of water by cities, for example and irrigation practices often are inefficient in use of water.

Thus the National Council of Churches say

[W]e understand that when we make our prayers of intercession at this time – and at any time – we are expressing our own longings, our yearnings, in a way that links them with the promise of God for well-being and wholeness. We do it in faith, because of our faith story-a story that speaks first and foremost about the gracious coming of God to us and of God’s initiative, God’s desire to have us whole. It is a story that speaks of the beginning of a new creation. We do it that we might be in tune with and open to the Spirit of God.

But when we pray, we must know, too, that God’s promises come to reality as we give our ‘yes’, our consent. So, when we pray during this season of 40 days of prayer, we know that we are also praying that we might be so open to the Spirit of God that there will be a response of repentance and transformation: repentance for the ways we misuse the environment, cause great destruction to natural resources and changes to weather patterns; and transformation in our behaviour and in government policy, not least in terms of water conservation.