Abi Adegboye, PhDSaturday, February 10, 2018
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am praying for miracles in many areas of my life - my finances, weight, relationships, and did I say finances? Specifically, I want my debts to be miraculously cancelled. Miracles are attractive for many reasons - instantaneousness, the drama, and awe. Miracles are a cure-all that appear to cost less in time, energy, and resources than conventional methods of getting stuff done. They offer solutions to problems as different as the birth of babies and the death of enemies. Unfortunately, seeking miracles is akin to gambling; sometimes you win, other times, you lose.

Cast in the African tradition of transactional faith, we seek prophets, Alfas, Babalawos, and all manner of self-described miracle workers to invoke miracles for imagined, self-inflicted, environmental, or substantive problems. Unfortunately, this approach is problematic for many reasons:

  • Predisposition to abuse: because of the mystical nature of miracles, both seekers and givers abuse the phenomenon. False prophets gather adherents through a combination of fearmongering and stagecraft in order to mercilessly fleece them. On the other hand, seekers shun honest work in favor of 'waiting on God' for a promised miracle.

  • No accountability: if the miracle one is seeking does not manifest, so-called miracle workers are typically not held to account. If challenged, they could argue the seeker didn't have the faith to combine with theirs to produce the miracle. Like the flick of the die, you get what you get.

  • Vulnerability to exploitation: miracle-seekers are vulnerable to exploitation by charlatans who claim to have the answers. For example, an educated young woman was sent to a Babalawo for etutu before her marriage. He raped her and she was forced to marry him; an association which truncated her socioeconomic mobility.

  • Underestimation of cost: Pursuers of miracles often underestimate the cost of the pursuit - the deprivation, expended energy, money, time, trust, and faith. When you give Prophet A, B, and C 'offerings' in the pursuit of a miracle, are these included in your budget? Do you add up these expenses?

  • Exclusion of alternatives: True, miracles are often pursued when there are no viable alternatives, but they also exclude a review of other remedies. For example, when the doctor requests $100,000 for a surgery, the poor man takes up residence at the prayer camp. What about consultation of other hospitals or specialists?

  • Devastation of letdown: when after going the rounds of miracle workers, the debt is uncancelled, no prospects appear for the spinster, or the illness results in death; there's a major letdown that could result in heartbreak and even, loss of faith.

So, what are the alternatives?

  • Put miracles where they belong: they are occasional happenings which cannot be predicted or induced. God will bless those whom He will bless and wherever He'll bless them. For example, the God who saved the accident victim did not wait till s/he went to some prophet before delivering the miracle!

  • Be leery of miracle peddlers: Before you speak, they tell you all manner of evil they see around you, stir up fear, and promise deliverance that they alone can manifest. While miracles require suspension of thinking, don't forsake it altogether. Don't follow anyone to eat grass.

  • Cash on delivery only: If the miracle does not happen, do not pay! Pledge, but do not pay until you see evidence of the prayers.

  • Work. Hard: There is no substitute for hard work just as there's no miracle weight loss potion. Doors of opportunity may open miraculously, but you've still got to step through.

  • Own your faith: What you can believe, is typically what you get. For example, I can believe for an opportunity to earn $10,000 but not for a gift of the same (feel free to upgrade my faith in this regard); so, I look out for such an opportunity. Similarly, work your own faith, and watch miracles happen for you.