Monday, 23 June 2014

When Prayers are not enough

The other day I asked for prayers from the online community for Nigeria. This move was borne out of concern after some bombs were discovered on time in a church in Southern Nigeria, as well as the arrest of a terror kingpin among 486 suspected terrorists in the same region.

It was also as a result of the utterances of people who vowed to carry out revenge attacks should Southern Nigeria be attacked by terrorists. I felt if God didn't step in to help us, it would only be a matter of time before utter chaos descended.

Strangely enough, very few people indicated interest. Based on few comments, I could sense people had given up on God doing anything to help. They wondered where God has been all along? They told me I was wasting my time.

As I thought about this, I remembered a verse in the Bible, from the book of 2 Chronicles chapter 7 verse 14, If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This was God’s promise to King Solomon after the dedication of the Temple. God was simply reminding him and all Israel that when things begin to go awry; no rains, pestilence, terror, it is usually because there is sin. However if the people will be humble to acknowledge this and turn away from their wicked ways, He would hear from Heaven and rescue them.

While this sounded great, the Israelites often didn’t turn away from their wicked ways when they prayed to God for deliverance. Time and time again, we read of different kings who did evil in God’s sight and encouraged the people by their behaviour to do likewise. Yet no matter how many prophets were sent to warn them and beg them to repent, to forestall the looming judgement, the people refused to heed the warnings. Sometimes they persecuted or even killed the prophets for daring to prophesy doom.

These people, who often worshipped other gods, felt as long as they went to the Temple regularly, and practised some religious duties, God would be satisfied. They refused to understand that God demands total obedience to His ways.

And so many times when they were in distress and cried out to God for deliverance, God would refuse to answer them. He pointed out what they had to do, but very rarely did they repent.

Many of us religious people are not so different from the Israelites. We want God to do things on our terms, not His. We claim God is a God of love yet forget that He is a God of justice also.

We have become idolatrous and prostitutes in our relationship with God. The love of wealth and the quest for it has become our passion, our new god. No one cares about another, its all about our selfish interests, even at the expense of others.

We go through religious motions, attending church, yet we don’t want to live by the commands to love God and to love our neighbour. Like prostitutes, we are not in a committed relationship with God, we only appear religious because we want Him to bless us. We are not ready to do anything for God that might inconvenience us in any way. Yet we expect Him to quickly come to our aid and save us when we cry to Him. It doesn’t work that way.

God is a God of covenant, if we do our part, He will do His. Yes He hates to see us suffer as a result of sin, but He is a God of justice. If we will return back and love and serve Him totally, as well as loving others, He will forgive us, heal us and heal our land.

There is nothing He cannot do, nothing is too difficult for Him, but we have to choose first who we will serve. Will it be the god of our imagination, the one who is blind to our sins, the one who doesn’t mind when we oppress others, the one who pets us and spoils us? Or will it be the One True God who cannot be mocked, the God who has principles?

My prayer is that we will return back to Him; He who is willing and able to save us. He has heard our prayers, but it will take more than prayers to move Him. It will take repentance and a decision to do things according to His ways. And the good news is that whatever He tells us to do, is usually in our interests and ultimate good. Even more reassuring is the knowledge that He will give us the grace to do all He asks us to do.

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