PRAYER IS NOT THE KEY, ITS YOU – BY AUDU MAIKORI

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I read a tweet by my good friend and radical thinker- Ms Sobumi Plumbre a few months back. She said something to the effect that there is a tendency for people to become very religious when they are from poor or developing countries. For instance, when they take electricity in Nigeria today, you hear groans and hisses..but immediately they bring back the power you hear exclamations like “ Thank God!”, “ Praise be to Allah” “ Thank heavens” and so on.

She said that in developed countries, things like power outages so rare, that it is indeed confounding to them how such a thing could happen-they blame nature, windstorms, negligence of the power company but one thing is sure- they don’t call on God to fix the problem.

Now put yourself in God’s position for a second ( I mean this in no blasphemous way) – if you were God and had created an Earth laden with natural resources, strong people with huge brains and also provided ready-made food for them to consume- would you like to be called on for EVERY SINGLE thing that irks the humans you created?

“ Father, we pray that you make NEPA to bring light tomorrow in time for my birthday party” “ Father install a perfect leader who will turn the naira to be at par with the dollar, in fact father make the naira more valuable than the US Dollar sef” or “father , I haven’t read for my exams but I know the grace of God will see me through my exams, and I will pass with a distinction” in other words, God do you work as a miracle father, so I can hang out with my friends all day- as long as I have faith in God- He will see me through”.

I recall an episode that occurred when I was in University of Jos ( seemingly eons ago now) studying for my law degree – there was a Christian prayer group in my class which primarily spent a good chunk of their time in prayer groups and sessions… perennially.

I on the hand was brought up in a strict Christian family. We prayed together as a family twice a day, every single day of the week. We had two prayer sessions daily – first thing in the morning and at night- so prayer groups weren’t new to me..but here I was in the “Great UNIJOS” and I wanted to soak in the culture, the people and the experiences- I was for sure not going to spend most of my time in prayer sessions. Besides that, we were the “rockers”in school and we were more likely to be at a party than a prayer meeting. On this particular day one of the prayer warrior leaders approached me in class, he sauntered over to where I was seated and sat next to me – after the usual pleasantries. He revealed to me the purpose of this “visit”. “ Brother Audu,  I think you need to be more serious in class. You guys don’t come for every lecture and you do attend our prayer groups. Don’t you know without prayer you won’t pass your exams ?” He continued “ So my mission here is to advise you to spend more time in prayers.. that’s the only way you can make it” and with that, he left.

A few months later, as our exams approached I went to the main-campus around 11 pm to do the customary Night vigil -which basically was the practice where students would read in school overnight to catch up with notes and classes and also prepare for exams.

I was moving from class to class, looking for an empty space where I could study in solitude – you see my formula was simple – I loved social events, parties and putting events together but when it was time for my books – I would always cut out any distractions whatsoever. I would study hard in private because I found group studies boring and confusing – I always studied in seclusion – that was my secret sauce and these exams were no different- besides there was no electricity in my flat, so this was the next best thing. As I continued my search for a vacant or close to empty classroom- I heard shouts and screams, then clapping and some rambling- then I spied with my eye – the same brother that was preaching to me about “being serious” fervently leading the night vigil. Words like “exams’ “victory” “First Class” and the like could be heard. He was obviously praying his way to a first-class…me I was just going to do it the normal way- read for a pass….Lol!

Suffice to say at the end of the year- my guy failed 3 or so exams while I didn’t have any carry overs and actually made decent grades. Since our results were usually published on the notice board- my preacher friend knew that I knew he failed, He knew that I knew that he knew I passed. End of Story.

The point of this long-winded story is this – prayer is Not the key- what you actually do with your hands and mind is the key, prayer is simply the grease in the lock. If religion was the only qualification for success on Earth, then the richest people in the world would be Imams and pastors, notDangote or Bill Gates. If prayer is the only way to succeed materially – then China wouldn’t be the behemoth it is today when barely 50 years ago- China was substantially poorer than Nigeria. Chinese people are known for their industriousness, not their religious piety whether it is Islam, Christianity or Buddhism.

The truth is this- we must stop praying for Nigeria to change-we must work hard to actually find the problem, work out solutions and resolve them when God created the Earth, he put in Work- he did not Pray it into existence.

The second point is putting prayer first obviates the need to do something about a situation- if we have no electricity because PHCN isn’t working – we need to FIX its by hiring the right people who are capable and have the requisite experience- not appoint cronies and loyalists to do a job they aren’t qualified for. And if they fail, we fire them and hire better teams until we get it right- prayer cannot do that!

Thirdly, If you want better leadership for Nigeria, you cannot pray or tweet it into existence- you must go out, register, and come out on election day and vote for the best person you know will help build up your community.

If things are not getting better at work, it is not the devil and his angels tempting you through your boss- maybe you just need to change your work ethic, your manners or how you approach your colleagues. Most times the solution to most problems lie with us, not someone else, so if you need to pray- pray for yourself to see what you need to do to correct things.

As long as we keep asking for natural things which require natural action to fix to be changed supernaturally then we are doomed and defeated. We make a mockery of the grace of God and misunderstand his place in our lives. As a great man once said, “ God is not a doting grandfather sitting benignly on a rocking chair in Heaven, waiting to grant your every wish and desire”.
God is the person who gave you ALL you need to succeed in life and he said it to Adam “ in toil and sweat shall you produce food” and also “ behold the Earth and all its fullness I give to you, Go and take dominion over ALL of it”. This is what developed countries have discovered for years that there is a place or prayer and there is a place for action, don’t substitute one for the other.

Prayer is NOT the key, You are…prayer is the grease the makes the key slip in smoothly when things are rusty..but it should never be the replacement for doing your work as you should.

Finally, why should we expect God to fix Nigeria or Africa, for us when he doesn’t live here, he doesn’t pay taxes, He’s the everlasting light, he needs no NEPA, He is the one the blessed the Earth with riches, so he doesn’t need a job. He is the all-knowing God, he doesn’t need a first class degree or a Ph.D.

Let us hold God in the hallowed reverence and esteem he deserves, let us not involve him in things he clearly has given us the mandate to exercise – this, in my opinion, is actually the most blasphemous act we could possibly do

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