Soo the other day, I was discussing with some people and Nigeria and the Ebola was brought up. We started talking on how the Ebola spread was controlled and next thing I knew; someone mentioned that it was because all the churches came together in prayer and fasted and God mercifully looked at all the supplications and stopped the spread of Ebola. My head was still reeling from this information when the next person added that all the preventive measures that were put in place (the isolation of infected person, quarantine of suspects) were worthless. She went further to state that it was because of the collective prayers that were fired (Naijas u understand naa) that Nigeria was able to be free of Ebola.
And I’m about to get to the most interesting detail: the people I was having the conversation with were workers in the health sector.
And that brings me to my question:
IS PRAYER TRULY THE KEY OR IS THE SHACKLE ITSELF.
Each day in Nigeria, I have increasingly come to realize that there seems to be a (permit me to use the word) “sheepishness” in our religious views, beliefs and their application to the practical day to day life in Nigeria. I will explain better.
A man goes out, gets drunk, still drives his car and knocks down someone on his way back. If the victim survives, we remember that his pastor asked him to pray against sudden death the previous month and he fasted for 5 days and that’s the reason he survived. If the victim dies, we chalk it down that his time on earth (which is allocated by God) is up. The drunk driver now is absolved of blame as he was only an instrument in the divine order of creation. Now im getting to the best part; some groups would be of the opinion that the death was an act of satan while others would say that Gods knows best. But I am yet to see a group that would say that the death was an act of God (especially if the victim was young) although they would be quick to point out that his time on earth was up.
I will give another instance, someone is sick in the hospital, bleeding, needs blood and the pastor and church members are firing prayers on his behalf instead of people coming forward to volunteer to donate blood. So many people are sick in the hospitals who can’t afford their treatment, some people have neighbours who haven’t paid house rents and we are more concerned with donating money to churches or paying prayer groups to come and hold family prayers/deliverances.
Someone goes to hospital, is diagnosed with diabetes or HIV, the implications of the illness are explained and the person is advised to take his drugs regularly as he would most probably live his normal daily life if he adheres to medical advice. He goes back to his pastor, who tells him that he should pray, fast and have faith that God can do all things, then after his weeks of fasting and night vigils, he should stop the drugs with faith because God will surely make him whole as the children of Abraham do not suffer ailments. Now the man goes home, takes his pastor’s advice and finds himself in the hospital after he must have had a stroke. The church members then pray against the spirit of death and finally the man leaves the hospital with a left side paralysis; And the relatives will still praise God and thank the church members for their prayers because they believe it was the prayers that kept the man alive.
I remember a bus conversation, the topic was “Tithe” and those for ‘pros of tithe paying’ said that when one pays one’s tithe regularly and completely, that the person must be successful in all endeavours, pass all job interviews, buy cars and (the most amazing of all) never have to visit the hospital for serious ailments. I couldn’t keep quiet any longer so I asked the leader: does the person still need to buy food cos the way I see it, manna should even fall from heaven for the obedient followers of God
And this is the problem, we have so much miscontrued the true meaning of faith and prayer. I remember a pastor who once said we (Nigerians) disturb God for problems we can solve easily. The government is not working, instead of doing something about it, we pray; your relation is sick and can be treated in the hospital, yet you pray for a miraculous cure; a woman is in labour, needs a cesarean section but no, we pray for a miracle so she can deliver normally like the Hebrew women in the bible (who I must mention at this point, didn’t have the option of surgeries back then); a student doesn’t read but prays for a miraculous pass; a woman is pregnant and is fasting (starving herself from 6am-6pm each day) for 2 weeks in order to deliver normally; someone is sick, needs urgent medical attention and we are praying in church.
Nigerians trouble God with problems that God has already provided miracles for just that they fail to believe.
I wonder sometimes if its the same God we pray to with the other continents. To this day, I do not understand the religious devotion in a case where a woman has a cheating husband, has been caught repeatedly having unprotected sex with different women and the pastor asks the woman to go home and pray about it. What is there to pray about? The pastor certainly will not bother to inform the woman that while she’s praying for a change in her husband’s behaviour, she might get infected with HIV or that the man might get infected before his eventual conversion.
Also when public servants steal money, they come to the church for Thanksgiving while we keep praying against bribery and corruption.
It seems the prayers are holding us back from positive action.
What do you think? Cite your own examples