ames, the first pastor of the Church in Jerusalem explained why a number of times, our prayers are not answered.
So I am preaching today on the topic "Praying Wrongly, Prayer without Understanding.
Praying Wrongly, Prayer without Understanding.
James, the younger brother of our Lord was the first Pastor of the Church in Jerusalem. He explained why a number of times our prayers are not answered.
Let us turn to his book; James 4:
Vs 3 reads:
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3)
The poverty in the land has attracted so many praying settlements, called Mountain tops (Ori Oke).
They have become so numerous, the type never witnessed in the history of the nation.
The different Churches also conduct vigils, night upon nights for people looking for breakthrough.
But unfortunately the situation remains the same for the majority of the people who on daily basis parade these low and the high mountains and Church vigils. Unemployment still pervades the land.
The Lagos-Ibadan express way and many other highways scattered round the country are also not different with thousands who parade the prayer sessions on monthly basis. Yet poverty still pervades the land.
The situation remains the same for most of them because the prayers are wrongly presented. They are not answered because they are not praying for the real thing they ought to pray for. They are not answered because the requesters do not allow or request the Holy Spirit to give them the understanding of the problems, which they are dealing with. The requesters do not allow or request the Holy Spirit to give them the understanding of why they are not able to break through, and so are not able to pray accordingly, and so they are just beating about the bush.
The solutions or answers to a number of these problems do not even need lengthy prayers or night vigils but 'action', mobilizing people to take the necessary actions under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Of course, others have cashed in on the poverty that pervades the land and turned it to their financial gains or popularity in what Pastor James described as 'that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3).
God has said it on many occasions that poverty ought not to be mentioned in our country talk less of ravaging us in a brutal manner in which it has dealt us blows.
God has done His own part. He has blessed us with everything we need in order that we can live a comfortable life. Not many nations are thus blessed. Therefore to constantly be petitioning God for blessings is ignorant prayer because He has already answered in the positive.
We are like one fellow, who has a cheque in his hand and rather than going to the bank to turn the paper into money, still begging by the road side.
So it is not some lengthy prayer as such, which we need but understanding of how to channel, or go about the prayer and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit take necessary actions that are needed in order to realize the blessings, which God has blessed us with.
I remember one Saturday, when I organized a Town hall meeting, where I wanted us to discuss how the wealth, which God gave us, can reach every one of us.
One young woman who has graduated from the University for some years, but still looking for an employment tried to excuse herself that she was going to be attending a program called "The night of my Break Through" I laughed and asked her, how many of the people in her position will have a break through with that kind of program when in actual fact, employment opportunities are scanty.
I educated her that what she needed to pray for, was large employment opportunities, which she and all jobless graduates like her can walk into without tears and without making a mess of themselves.
Anyone who is 50 years old and above in Nigeria will testify to it that in the time past, two, three or more jobs were readily waiting for a University under-graduate before he even finished writing his final examination papers. Employment was waiting for graduating grade 3 and grade 2 teachers as well as High School graduates.
I believe that a return to such good old days should engage our prayers.
Not only this but to inquire what made it possible in those good old days how every category of school leavers had employment, the moment they finished their studies; inquire what made it possible that there were vacation jobs for University students during summer; what made it possible such that student Nurses, student Pharmacists, student Medical Laboratory Scientists were receiving salaries, rather than paying school fees. And then to prayerfully inquire why all those are no longer possible and prayerfully take actions to restore those good old days.
I agree that in a prayer gathering of 3000 people, someone may be able to walk into an employment the following day. I agree that in a congregation of 3000 praying people, someone may be able to buy a house or buy a car the following day. But what happens to the other 2000 people and over? Could they be sinners as to why they could not get a job or own a car or buy a house?
What really happened in those good old days was that the government was abreast of the number of citizens who will be graduating in the primary Schools, the number of citizens who would be graduating in High Schools, in the Universities and other tertiary institutions and have made provision in the budget to give them jobs.
The government of those good old days had the statistics of the number of students who would seek admission to the Universities and had made provision in the budget to give them scholarships.
The governments of those good old days were always monitoring the areas of manpower needs and each region was sponsoring their people to acquire the required education, technology and the know-how in those fields.
The government of those good old days worked for the prosperity of the nation, which eventually translated into the prosperity of the individuals, so there was food for everyone.
So a return to this kind of era is what those high and low hills, all the night vigil houses and all the camps along Lagos-Ibadan express way ought to be praying and working for, not I see someone going to buy a car, a house or going to America tomorrow.
Possessing a car or owing a house is not a big deal in the countries, which are responsible, in the countries, which allow free flow of their wealth to their citizens, in the countries which the executive and the law makers do not corner all the wealth of their countries. Messengers and High School Students have automobiles in those countries.
I am preaching on the topic "Praying wrongly. Praying without understanding"
So, in essence, the government of those good old days worked for National Prosperity and so everyone had food on his table and everyone was happy. So there were no tensions, no rancor i.e no bitterness against the government or anyone, so the idea of kidnapping human fellows for ransom was not dreamt of. So there were no needs for all the present day praying mountain tops, low or high hills.
The pattern, by which the government of the good old days run its business, which I just narrated is what the prosperous nations of the world continue to follow and which made every of their citizens to be happy and only those who are lazy and those who discriminate against certain jobs, can be hungry because if you do not discriminate and you are not lazy you will always get jobs of whatever kind.
The juju maestro, the late I. K. Dairo sang "Job is job" (Ise ni 'se un je), so long it gives you earning to take care of your obligations. It is only stealing that is bad.
How do we in Nigeria come to a situation where a qualified Medical Doctor, qualified Nurses and others who are qualified in their different vocations roam about the streets without job?
I believe this is the question, which those high and low mountains, the conductors of ceaseless night vigils and those on Ibadan-Lagos express way, ought to address.
The prayers and gatherings are largely unprofitable to the majority. Those prayer gatherings lack the understanding and the knowledge of how to free the nation from living a subhuman life because they do not know what to pray for, they do not know where to target their prayer. They have not allowed the Holy Spirit to minister to them so as to know what challenges or principalities they are fighting for.
In those good old days, those in government were ashamed of ostentatious life style. They did not want to be seen to live beyond their legitimate earnings. What word do we use to define their lifestyle? "Godliness"
I believe that if those big congregations on the Ibadan-Lagos express way and other congregations throughout the country; Christians and Moslems, will mobilize themselves and mobilize other citizens to conspire against 'ungodliness' but commit ourselves to live a life of godliness, then the good old days are at our door.
Another thing to pray for, is for God to make restless, the conscience and remove the peace of those who are stealing our common wealth, those who are robbing us with boldness, then taunt and flaunt the proceeds of our stolen wealth to our faces.
Recently I read the story of a legislator who has flare for posh automobiles. He has no office in his constituency, talk less of employing anyone but would on some weekends drive in those posh automobiles round his constituency to show off his legalized robbery.
The kind of money, which the governments of those good old days used for budgeting for employments for all categories of people is now used to take care of less than 2,000 people, namely, the Executive and the Legislation. The Judiciary cannot be watching the money been piped away like that, themselves have compromised the integrity of their calling.
But many of these people gather on the Lagos-Ibadan express way every month! Who will tell them that their prayers are abomination before God, seeing the suffering and the difficulties, which the majority of citizens are going through?
The wise king Solomon, in his book, the Proverbs says that "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight (Proverbs 15:8)
Who will remind them of the good old days, when every government ministries had 'work department', which provided jobs for all kinds of artisans; carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, bricklayers, painters, grass cutters etc?
Who will remind them of the days when prescribed medications in the government hospitals were free? Who will remind them of the good old days when government hospitals provided free food for patients who were hospitalized?
Who will challenge their conscience to give up their jumbo pay and use the money to do what the governments of the good old days were doing?
The yearly budgets of the Federal government of those good old days was merely in thousands of pounds, not in millions as there was no oil revenue then. Yet they were able to provide free boarding, free food, pocket money, transport allowance, free books and stationaries and uniform to students in the Government run High Schools, talk less of the situation in the Tertiary institutions and Universities.
Today, the budget is in trillions of Naira, with 80% of it said to be used to service only 1% in a population of 180million. 82% of the yearly budget is also said to be used for re-current expenditures.
Is this democracy or colonization by the politicians cum Law makers?
So where is the money to create employments? Where is the money again to provide for health, education, good roads, electricity and water etc?
Even when we were under the colonization of the British who are not our blood, it is not as bad as this. We fare a million better.
So what those who are parading the low and high mountains, ceaseless night vigils and Lagos-Ibadan express way and other camps along the highways in the country are doing, amounts to just sustaining hope, though they may be unaware.
But a time will come when it will happen that hope deferred according to the Bible in the book of Proverbs will make their heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).
But rather than wait till such a time when their hearts will become sick, it is urgent that they immediately change the pattern of their prayer, pray rightly and take the necessary actions, which must be taken under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Members, House of Assembly in the Northern Region government earned 60pounds a month, which was the basic salary of a University graduate. That was just fair enough. Compare it with un estimated amount, which the ones of today carry away in wheel barrows and Ghana must go bags.
Rightful appropriation of our wealth is what all the praying mountains, night vigils upon vigils and the gatherings along Ibadan-Lagos express way and other highways ought to direct their prayers towards.
And this is why God asked me to be organizing Inter-Religious Solemn Assembly in cities, towns and villages round Nigeria because in order to revert to the good old days, both Christians and Moslems must work together because the difficulties, which we are facing excludes no one except the Executives, their surrogates, members of the Legislation and their surrogates and Civil Servants in vantage positions.
And rightful appropriation of our wealth calls for godliness. Godliness is what those praying hills and gatherings along Ibadan-Lagos express way and other highways should emphasize and re-emphasize and pay less attention to miracles.
The Bible has the answer to our heartache and frustration. It says "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34)
It also says "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land" (Isaiah 1:19).
And Prophet Samuel said: "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (ISam. 15:22).
Our prayer focus from today, should change from seeking miracles to obeying God's plan for our prosperity.
I know some people will ask why we should focus only on the government for our prosperity. But is there anything any one can do successively without the input of the government?
The Government has the responsibility to lay the necessary infrastructures on which private enterprises can build on and thrive. With the collapse of infrastructures, big companies, which in the time past used to provide large employments to citizens have either shut down or relocated to other countries.
Does anyone remember how private companies sprawled along Papa Ajao towards Mafoluku in Lagos State in the early 70's? Where are they today? If big companies folded up so quickly, how does one expect individual small scale businesses to be sustained?
How do welders, photographers, printers, laundary houses, radio mechanics, electricians etc operate?
By the grace of God, I will continue next time on this topic "Praying Wrongly, Prayer without understanding"
Let us pray.
Sam Aweda, Pastor, Jesus for the World Revival Mission (Peoples' Church)