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QUESTION
I had tremendous respect for the Obasanjo adminitration and I regarded it as having had in it’s ranks some of the brightest and best young minds that Nigeria has ever known. I have also prayed for Nigeria in the past but I think that your poem titled “God Defend Nigeria”, which was apparantly written in commemaration of the 49th year independence anniversary of Nigeria, was inappropriate and misplaced. This is because I do not believe that we can achieve anything just by praying alone and I am tired of just praying and hoping. I regard such counsel from you as nothing more than stupid optimism and religious hypnotism and cliche.

We need to forget about prayer and take firm action instead. I expected more from you than this sort of reductionist and archaic proposition. Why do we need to always talk about prayer? Haven’t we prayed and cried enough for this country all these years? I do not believe that the answer to Nigeria’s problems lie in simply and endless hoping and praying for the country. What is your position on this sir?

ANSWER
Thank you for your comments. The fact that u have actually prayed for Nigeria, albeit in the past, at least gives me some relief and cause for cheer. The irony is that the last administration, which I served and which you spoke so highly of, rested it’s very foundation and it’s ability to perform in God and in prayer. I can testify to that. Again the year before I was redeployed to Aviation, when planes were mysteriously dropping from the sky (5 crashes in one year) and when people were scared to fly, it was hard work coupled with PRAYER and FAITH, that reversed that evil cycle and stopped the planes from crashing. The church, the watchers, the intercessors and many men and women of God rose to the occassion and were deeply involved in what was essentially a spiritual conflict. They were in fasting and prayer both night and day and of course God heard us and honoured His word: He broke the jinx, nullified the spell and stopped the crashes. That is what prayer can do. You need to understand that the countries that are advanced today originally had their root and foundation in God and at some point in their various histories went through periods of massive revival having experienced immense suffering. When one third of all the people in Europe dropped dead as a consequence of the black death(bubonic plague) in the Middle Ages they did not stop praying or turn their back on God. They held on to their faith, called on God, received a word from Him and the evil cycle stopped. When the pilgrim fathers founded America they prayed her into greatness and made God her foundation: that is why she is what she is today. Prayer and faith is the key to all things, coupled with hard work, an understanding of the times and hope.

When 20 million people were killed in the first world war and 50 million were slaughtered in the second, it was prayer and faith in God that enabled the world to survive it and move on to build a better world. It was prayer that pulled down the Berlin wall and destroyed the evil and godless empire of Soviet communism. It was prayer, faith in God and the ability of good men, filled with the Holy Spirit, to rise up and say NO, that destroyed the evil that was Hitler and Nazi Germany and the vicious and racist system of government in apartheid South Africa. The book of Job teaches us that oftentimes God allows the devil to touch us in order to test our faith in Him. Yet He can change our fortunes in the twinkle of an eye, either for good or for bad: that is His perogative and His nature. He can make a promise and honour it at once or wait 400 years to do so, as was the case with the children of Israel when they were in exile in Egypt. That is what makes Him God. The most imp thing to appreciate is that through good or bad, through night or day, whether as individuals or nations, He is with us every step of the way, He loves us deeply and He is eagerly waiting to see our reactions to our various challenges and circumstances. His word says “the righteous shall live by faith” and that is, indeed, the cornerstone of the christian faith: total faith in God and trusting Him to deliver us and help us in our time of need. Now that does not mean that we should do nothing else . That does not mean that we should not, at the same time, work hard, fight hard and shout loudly to make our country a better place. After all the bible says “faith without works is dead” which means u must work hard at the same time as u are exercising ur faith, otherwise u will fail. What it means is that whatever we are doing we must do it with prayer: in fact it is that prayer that will guarantee the success of the venture. This is not “reductionist” and neither is it “stupid optimism” or “religious hypnotism or cliche”. Rather it is our strength and our hope for a better tomorrow: it actually works and will do so for Nigeria no matter how bad things appear to be today. In any case u cannot be an optimist and be stupid: that is literally a contradiction in terms but that is a discussion for another day.

Finally I want you to consider the words of Queen Victoria which she spoke at the height and power of the British empire and in the days when Britain was truly “Great Britain”. She said “I do not fear the armies of Scotland but I fear the prayers of John Knox”. That is deep wisdom. You see prayer delivers the captives, heals the brokenhearted, brings tyrants to their knees and causes kings to weep and tremble: it shapes the destiny of nations. There is still hope for Nigeria as long as we pray. Shalom.

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