You want a better Nigeria? Please don’t ask the people to pray more; simply teach them to be honest, to be sincere and transparent, to be loving, to look out for other people’s good, not to be self-centred and greedy, to be self-disciplined, to be fair to all irrespective of class or ethnic background…
In one of the instances when Jesus Christ was teaching the disciples to pray, He said:
“Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity, he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened”. (Luke 11:5-10).
There was another instance when Jesus Christ told a parable of a persistent widow who had to pester a judge for justice. This judge had a reputation of having no regard for anyone, including God. This woman pestered this judge to the extent that he said, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”. The judge knew the constant pestering of this woman would wear him out. Jesus Christ closed that session by saying: “And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly”. (Luke 18:1-8).
It is very clear that the Bible encourages us to pray ceaselessly and not to faint. As Kingdom believers, we are to maintain a consistent prayer life. This is not in anyway in doubt or up for a debate. However, we cannot continue to pray for the same thing with increasing intensity forever. Nigerians are praying people. We pray everyday. There are individuals and ministries that pray for this country round clock. Asking us to pray more on these same issues is simply being mean and insensitive to the real problem. It’s high time our pastors stopped asking us to pray more because God is not deaf, neither is He as callous as the wicked judge Jesus Christ referred to in His parable.
When we start focusing on raising people of character, service, excellence and integrity; people who would conform to the nature and character of Jesus Christ; who would then live as responsible citizens of Nigeria, our prayer for a better Nigeria would become effective.
With all the prayers, Nigeria’s situation keeps getting worse, and we are being told to pray more for the same thing? If we believe what Jesus Christ said about God, and we have been praying all these years, then it’s time to pause and ask ourselves, what is happening here? What exactly is the problem and why is this mountain refusing to move? Knowing fully well that the word of God cannot be broken, we ought to reflect on the situation, and reevaluate the problem to know the next accurate steps to take.
The answer to the question of why is Nigeria’s situation getting worse with all the prayers, lies in the church. We complain about corruption, poor leadership bad governance, etc. What then are the underlining causes of these problems? They are not farfetched. They include greed, indiscipline, selfishness, mediocrity, laziness, narrow-mindedness, etc. These are issues that the church as an important institution in society and the agency of God on earth has the responsibility to address in the lives of believers. The gathering of Christians across the country records thousands and millions of attendees. There is a proliferation of churches all across the country. We have pastors and ministries whose coverage and influence have extended far beyond the shores of Nigeria. The question here is: What do we teach our people? What kind of people are we raising for God?
It is important we ask these questions, because Christians constitute a significant percentage of the people who, on a daily basis, contribute to the problems of corruption, poor leadership and bad governance that we complain and pray about everyday. There is no sector of the economy, private and public; no department and agency of government; that you would not find believers. These are the same people who pray tirelessly, shout ‘halleluyah’ and sing the loudest in our gatherings all across the country. They are the same people who aid and abate corruption in their different offices. You might be angry that I am over-generalising here. I have no apologies for that because this is an indictment of all of US.
Our inability to raise believers who would uphold the standard of righteousness in their different spheres of functionality in Nigeria has brought such a shame and disdain to the God we profess and claim to serve. If you would not teach your people to address the problem of greed, selfishness, laziness, narrow-mindedness, lack of integrity, dishonesty, mediocrity and the likes, telling them to pray for Nigeria more than they are already doing is punishment. We teach the people how to claim miracles, healings and prosperity, yet they cannot obey simple traffic regulations. They come to the pulpits to share testimonies of breakthroughs, but we cannot celebrate those who are being persecuted in their workplaces for doing the right thing and refusing to compromise their values.
If we really want a better Nigeria, we don’t need more prayers to make it happen, we just need to fix ourselves and then live right as Kingdom Ambassadors and responsible citizens of Nigeria.
God is not callous to turn deaf ears to our many years of prayers. We are not entirely godless, which is why we still gather for meetings and prayers, among other things. What we have is a lot of professing Christians with a form of godliness, without emphasis on the transformation it ought to produce in us (2 Timothy 3:5-7). I am happy to announce to you that God has heard all our prayers for a better Nigeria. Trust me He is not deaf. That the situation is not getting better means it’s time to pause and reevaluate.
What we need to start doing is focusing on raising believers that would make a difference in our society; believers that understand that it is a sin to lie, to cheat, to be indolent, to flout rules, to steal, to ask for gratification before doing what he or she is paid to do, to inflate contract figures, to treat people with disdain rather than with respect, to litter the environment, to drive recklessly, to use public office for selfish gains, to divert public funds, and the likes.
You want a better Nigeria? Please don’t ask the people to pray more; simply teach them to be honest, to be sincere and transparent, to be loving, to look out for other people’s good, not to be self-centred and greedy, to be self-disciplined, to be fair to all irrespective of class or ethnic background, to serve in their respective positions with integrity, to raise the banner of righteousness even in the face of persecution. These are part of the nature and character of Christ that Christians are required to exhibit as citizens of Nigeria. When we start focusing on raising people of character, service, excellence and integrity; people who would conform to the nature and character of Jesus Christ; who would then live as responsible citizens of Nigeria, our prayer for a better Nigeria would become effective.
God will not do for us what He has mandated us to do for and by ourselves. It appears we have bought so much into receiving miracles that we want Nigeria to become better miraculously, without our active participation. If we really want a better Nigeria, we don’t need more prayers to make it happen, we just need to fix ourselves and then live right as Kingdom Ambassadors and responsible citizens of Nigeria.
Frederick Adetiba is Head of HR/Admin/Finance at PREMIUM TIMES and the Lead Pastor at The Finishing Church in Abuja. He can be reached via: email@example.com, twitter and instagram: @fredor4c.