Every day should not be about politics; some days should be reserved for discussing either morality or spirituality. It is the absence of both that is responsible for the evil that rules the lives of many of our citizens today. In fact, prayer is the weapon we need to confront Satan and his angels, who are at war with us on a daily basis. This is why I suggest we resort to prayer as a panacea, since every other human theory has failed us.
I am worried that our nation is constantly drifting away from prayer and God. Morality, fear of God, and decency have taken the back seat in our national life.
It is to draw attention to this and the need to take our people back to God that prompted me to write this piece, believing it would stimulate their interest in the things of God.
In the beginning, according to John Chapter 1 verse 1, was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. Nothing has ever changed since this proclamation was made by John. I am a strong believer in the Word, because in the Word is power and the essence of our being. But, unfortunately, our nation has continually drifted away from the Word, thereby exposing it to the wiles of Satan and his agents.
Shying away from the Word of God and prayer has caused us so much distress and affliction, leaving us in quandary. Our prayer life has waned considerably, making us vulnerable to the machinations of evil people.
The beautiful thing about the life of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was his prayerfulness. He started his works of salvation with prayer and ended it with prayer on the cross at Golgotha. To further underscore the importance of prayer, Jesus urged his disciples to watch and pray ceaselessly, lest they fell into temptation.
Without constant prayer, one is exposed to the wiles of Satan and other troubles of life capable of making us derail. With prayer, we are fortified and protected against infernal spirits that daily buffet us.
Interestingly, the culture of prayer Jesus bequeathed to his disciples has been embraced by the entire Christendom. The efficacy of the Church’s prayer is epitomized in its ability to use it as a weapon of warfare, particularly at these perilous times when evil has taken over our land.
During the failed 1993 presidential election, when Nigeria was at a crossroads, the whole nation prayed and God heard us and averted the impending national catastrophe. The prayer for Nigeria in distress, which is still being recited in many Catholic parishes across the country, was designed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) to deal with the crisis at the time and reinforce the confidence of its adherents in the miraculous powers of prayer.
To throw further light into the significance of prayer, we will have to look at God’s propitious grace in making man, including the life of Virgin Mary who demonstrated her willingness to be the vessel for the birth of the Saviour of Mankind. First, God created us in his image and likeness; and when man disobeyed him, the man he created was chased out of Paradise and the gate of heaven shut behind him.
It was providential love that made God send his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save mankind from death and reconcile us to God. It was by this fiat of Mary that humanity was saved and restored to glory.
Nothing could have been more apt and no time could have been better than now, when the world yearns for peace, love, unity, progress and serenity, to write this piece. Who will save the world from calamity and by what means? If we failed to help the world through acts of charity and fervent prayers, then who will?
The dangerous signals from across the globe are an indication that the world lacks the word, which is supposed to be the bedrock of our lives.
God looked upon the lowliness, humility and docility to his will of Virgin Mary and made her blessed – allowing her to be the vessel through which the promises of God could be fulfilled for the redemption and sanctification of humanity.
Who can save us from this generation that is full of corruption, perversion, deceit and evil? Who can be like this woman in our time, with the ability and nobility to use her time, talent and treasures to save us from damnation? We are today challenged to follow in her footsteps for the good of mankind. This is a stake that appears too high, but we can do it if we have the grace.
A significant requirement of a true child of God is to devote time to prayer and intercession for the world, show God’s love to the world, which is filled with hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness and materialism. Above all, he must be doer of the Word.
There is no way we can conquer the world without the Word. When the Word comes and takes root in your heart, it bears fruit, which multiplies with grace – grace from God. We need the grace of God if we must be that which God wants us to be. Without grace we can do nothing and in grace, “there is nothing I cannot do in the one who strengthens me” (cf. Philippians 4:13).
We cannot achieve grace by mere wishful-thinking. We have got to inculcate the habit of regular prayer. Jesus said: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened for you,” (cf. Matthew.7:7). Jesus understood that we needed to be constantly with God in prayer and he too prayed fervently all the time. He was known never to have embarked on any major task without praying. Sometimes he prayed deep into the night for the Will of His father to be done on earth.
What do we have in our society today if not quarrels, greed, hatred and spitefulness? Jesus worked in harmony with his disciples. But the opposite is the case between governors and their commissioners or state houses of assembly. For us to make any headway in our march to sustainable democratic system, we must be Christ-like by emulating him in every way.
The disciples of Jesus were moved by his way of life, especially for the countless times he had to pray, such that they had to appeal to him to teach them how to pray. They longed to know the Father and to be with Him – just the same way Jesus went to His father in prayer all the time. Jesus was pleased with this request and he did not hesitate to teach them.
Yes, he taught them how to pray. What about our today politicians, did they not learn anything from the lessons of their past – the horrifying experience of their forebears? They behave as if they had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.
Prayer, therefore, is not only a precept, but a way of life and a necessity, if we must survive in this wicked world. Prayer, our fathers in faith taught us in the catechism of faith, is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God. It is being in loving communion with God. It is a dialogue and a chat with God. It is being in the presence of He who loves us by shedding His blood for us.
What could be more satisfying than a child being in the presence of his father to share the moment with him? That is: to be in a loving embrace with the father and to behold His goodness around us. That is prayer, which is having quiet moments with God. It is a time to sit at the feet of Christ to listen to him, while he teaches our souls and heals us of the noise and distractions of the world.
Prayer is a dialogue with God. It is a time we share loving intimacy with God to enable us to conquer our fears and imperfections. The patriarchs- Abraham, Moses, the prophets and, even, the disciples of Jesus had this experience of God through prayer. The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles in the moment of prayer and it was at prayer and breaking of bread that they encountered the Risen Christ.
For us to conquer the world and its travails, we must possess some sterling qualities, which include: profound humility, perfect obedience, angelic sweetness, universal mortification, spotless purity, heavenly wisdom, faith, self-sacrificing and prayerfulness etc. These are unique qualities which every believer must possess.
Virgin Mary abandoned herself completely to the will of God without complaint, but with heart filled with love for God, that at all times she was in prayer, while bearing her pains in union with her son. Her fiat was final and unshakable even in the moments of rejection and tribulation. But for us we fall easily to sin – completely drenched in ostentation and vainness.
In any case, ability to withstand temptation is a very important virtue. The crises in our nation today are caused primarily by our inability to trust in God absolutely. We are always weak to commit our troubles to God in prayer. At the slightest push we crumble like pies.
Prayer is an elevation of the soul to God. Jesus told the woman at the well from whom he requested water that if only she knew who it was that asked her for water, she would have been the first to ask Him to give her water. The same thing is applicable to us individually and corporately. If only we knew how perilous the times were, we would not need to be told to watch and pray endlessly.
Again, if only we knew how God longed to hear us call him Abba, Father, and approach His merciful throne in love, we would not delay to turn to him in prayer for healing, consolation, mercy, love, protection and for other graces for ourselves and for the whole world.
It seems the problems our nation is facing today have become humanly insurmountable. If that is the case, then we should try prayer and supplication to God for immediate intervention.
Jesus has already invited us to Himself who labour and are overburdened that we may have peace and rest from our toils, tribulations and persecutions. It is in prayer that we go to God and experience the fulfilment of this promise. Prayer is the key that unlocks every door that is closed behind us. It is the key to any success we may achieve in life. A prayer-less Christian is like fish out of water, or a flower planted in a scorched, arid land. There is no life or hope for such a Christian.
The Saints of God believe that it is impossible to please God without cultivating the habit of being with Him in prayer. The life of prayer inflames our zeal for God and the things of God. Prayer unites us with God. It is prayer that brings us into the presence of God, where healing and anointing flow.
Virtues acquired blossom easily through prayer, and it is the best exercise of perfection. We become rich in grace through a life of prayer. Prayer enlightens and emboldens our faith and helps us correct our faults and grow in virtue. Prayer keeps us in touch with God, as we sit at the feet of Jesus listening to words of wisdom and encouragement. Our spiritual life cannot thrive if we failed to pray, for it is prayer that nourishes us in faith, hope and charity.
Prayer helps us grow in holiness, because sanctity demands prayer – which is being alone with God. In prayer, we fix our gaze on God, who listens to us with fatherly affection and grants our hearts’ desires, according to His will and pleasure.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to pray. Try this.
The first part of every prayer should be adoration and acknowledgment of the God who loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten son to come and pay the price for our sins with His own life. This is the part in which we hail the Lord and praise Him for the wonders of His being.
After acknowledging God and adoring Him, the next step is to ask for forgiveness of our sins; for nothing unclean shall see God. We ask for pardon for our own sins and those of others, knowing that only sin can separate us from God and from possessing our rightful place in His kingdom.
In thanksgiving also we praise God for His goodness and mercy, and for all the favours received from Him. At this point, our prayer should focus on thanking God who in His infinite mercy allowed His son to die on our behalf, so as to reconcile us to Himself.
Finally, all is then set to pour out our hearts in supplication for our needs, the needs of others, the needs of our country and of the whole world. This is the time to ask for any grace you need to do the Will of God without reservation. This is the point at which you remind yourself of the ASK system in Matt. 7.7, which says: Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.
Prayer can be private or communal. It can be vocal or mental. However, whichever way you find applicable at every given moment, it is up to you to apply the procedure to achieve your purpose of prayer. If I may ask: what kinds of prayers should you avail yourselves?
Since 1993 the Catholic Church in Nigeria has said the prayer: “Prayer for Nigeria in distress” religiously. Other religious denominations have also repeatedly prayed for peace in our nation. This is an obligation we should not shy away from. We owe it as a duty to pray for our nation and its leaders, especially at this time of national crisis. It is sheer pretence for anybody to create the impression that all is well with our country.
Nigeria is in dire straits and needs the cooperation of all of us to get it out of the wood. It will not do any of us any good to allow Nigeria to die. If it dies, then all of us will perish.
I am glad that many Nigerians have taken to prayers as the best way out of our present difficulties. With prayer, mountains can be moved.