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Nigeria: Beyond prayer

Nigeria: Beyond prayer
April 18
08:14 2016

When we pray for Nigeria we pray as if it is prayer that will restore Nigeria. No. It is the work of wisdom and knowledge that will restore Nigeria. If God answers our prayer, he will select and empower men and women with wisdom and courage to work to make Nigeria great. It was not God who built the Tabernacle of worship in ancient Israel. No! it was men and women who built the Tabernacle. The deliverance from Egypt was not done by God. No.

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Quite alright, the people prayed. God heard them and sent a man Moses to deliver them. Moses had to believe God and work according to instructions to achieve deliverance for Israel. The tabernacle was the work of human genius. God gave those artists fantastic imagination to get thing done. He gave Moses administrative genius to deploy the artists. God did not do any of these works. He supplied the grace to get it done. It was left to human beings to utilize wisdom to create that beautiful thing that God had purposed to do for his people according to his revealed and perfect will for them.

If we pray without a plan for change and without a commitment to change, we will end up just praying. Perhaps the prayer we need to pray for Nigeria is for God to empower the artists and administrators who will execute divine mandate for Nigeria. And Also pray that those empowered and anointed for the mission will not turn back at the sight of blood or miss their way at the sight of porridge. Our prayer is powerful but it is powerless if we continue to pray without a plan of action or pray as if prayer get the work done. The only time prayer works without any plan of action is where there is nothing a man can do and all that men and women could do have been done. For example, Jonah in the belly of the fish. Even at that he still had to express strong expectation of deliverance.

So, if the expected results still need human effort prayer will not work without human effort. Think about the miracle of 2kings:7. There is famine in the land so severe that women have started eating their children. People are wailing and crying and praying. The King is thoroughly heartbroken. The prophet speaks prophetically that by the next day God will bring a miracle. First, the prayer of people of Israel provokes divine compassion and action. Thankfully there is a prophet in the land. A prophet is not a passive character. He is an activist. He receives insights from God and creates an outcome with it. If the prophet is frightened and depressed such that he gives up hope, then there is no use. He would be so demobilized that the compassion of God will come to naught because there is no one to speak to the situation.

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The prophetic word aims to inspire faith in God. And faith in God is the trigger to discover all the divine capabilities that have become human capabilities through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. The meaning of the death of Jesus Christ is that the gap between our possibilities and actualities has been abridged. We have the strength of God and whatever two or more of us agree to do we shall accomplish it because of the immeasurable grace of God available to us through our identification with Jesus Christ. In Christ we are more than conquerors.

So the prophet is a man of faith and a man of action. He believes that there is hope for redemption and recovery. But this hope comes through compassionate and courageous action. He breaks through protocol and delivers a message that is not believable except one can transgresses the boundaries of the ordained, the legitimized and the conventional. To see how his message is anti establishment look at how the most eminent technocrat of that ancient regime reacts to this hopeful message. He brushes aside the massage and mocks the deluded prophet. But the prophet is unrelenting and unfazed. This is a revolutionary moment. Something has to give. And what has to give is the mentality of passivity and submission to the tyranny of mediocrity and misery. There is an alternative to poverty and misery. The prophet is the exemplifier of the inexhaustible possibilities for transformation open to us. That is only if we see anew the promises of God and retrieve ourselves from the wasteland of puerile self-determinism. We can create prosperity from poverty; hope from despair. But we can’t do so unless we transgress the boundary of the conventional and cross the threshold of fear and unbelief. If you believe, all things are possible. That is how Jesus put it. And the test of the man and woman who believes is that they take the right action.

So the prophet refuses to believe that the misery and poverty all around is the ultimate reality. He refuses to believe that the limitations of the present political and religious leadership set the boundary of what is achievable. The God of Israel can always inaugurate a new beginning as long as people are willing and ready to step out of the failed conventional, asphyxiating orthodoxy. The sure word of prophesy is nothing in the ear of the one who is stuck in the mud of the present and has no response and responsibility for the future. The future is action-oriented. The test of whether we are people of the future is that we are willing and able to march forward; to dream afresh and to hope again. Once we abandon hope the future is dead. No wonder the sign at the gate of hell, according to Dante, reads “abandon all hope all ye who enters here”. There is no hope in hell because there is no future in hell. Hell is when there is no more hope.

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When prophet Elijah declares to the King the oncoming transformation and he is mocked to scorn by the Chief Economic Adviser he does not bury his head in shame and submission to gloom. He hits back ferociously at unbelief and cluelessness. This miracle will happen. But the Chief Economic Adviser will not partake in divine bounty. Knowing the nature of prophetic craft in the bible I believe that the prophet would have gone back to work to ensure his word does not fall to the ground. Like Elijah did with the window of Zarephath the prophet may have gone to pray down answer in line with the prophetic word. Prayer is demonstration of faith and earnest expectation. And our expectations are not to be cut off.

After the prophesy and the prayer it still requires the courage and seeming recklessness for the prayer to produce results. Two lepers have to break out of the mold. They have to think different. They evaluate the situation and decide to do something different. It is obvious that if they continue to live as they are doing they will die. But if they try something new they may succeed. There is uncertainty about the next thing. There is no uncertainty about the present situation. Except there is a change of practice or praxis the end will be death for all. They take the bold step and step into the zone of death. The rest is history. The unusual happens. The Syrians have heard loud footsteps and they conclude that the Jews have hired powerful mercenaries to attack and they take to their heels and forget their supplies at the camp. The lepers stumble on a miracle. They are fleeing from starvation and here is excessive food. They report back to base and the King sent his army to deliver truckloads of rice and diverse kind of food. The word of the prophet has come to pass in an unusual way. God did not rain grain from heaven. The lepers found a deserted camp with supplies of grain. Of course the city witnesses the end of starvation but the Chief Economic Adviser did not live to enjoy the miracle just as they prophet said. He was crushed to death.

God answered the prayer of his people. But he answered it through human action. No matter how the people prayed if no one believed the sure word of prophesy and no one enlists in heroic actions spurred by prophesy and protected by prayer there will be no results. Prayer is nothing except there is a plan of action or a willingness to engage. Someone must have the courage and wisdom to change otherwise the prayers will be just wailing and fretting.

As things become more difficult Nigerians will enter into the season of prayer. As we pray let us look, think and act. For it is action that will change the situation. It is action, intelligent and righteous actions of passionate and knowledgeable men and women, that will deliver Nigeria.

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