Prayer, being a communication with God – our Maker, should be meditative and with good intensions. I cannot control the manner of your prayer; it is an expression of your emotions. But I can advise on the contents of your prayer, because it is important for your expectations at the end.
Sometimes, we question whether our prayers reach God; or whether He cares about them; or more so, whether He truly exists to hear them. Some societies have even propounded philosophies to negate His existence, saying that the outcomes of our actions are the manifestations of our personal efforts. These philosophies have influenced many and boosted the egos of non-believers. It does not have to confuse you too. After all, the Bible says, ‘what you sow, you shall reap – Gal. 6:7; by the labour of your hands, you shall eat – Psalm 128:2; parable of the talents – Matt. 25:14-30; parable of the sower; etc.’ So, there is nothing new about these philosophies that are not already indicated in the Word of the Lord – the Bible. It is who the credit goes to that matters; is it thanks to your personal efforts or to God, who gave you life, gifts, talents, the world and all that contributed to your success?
First of all, let us examine the contents of our prayers. Jesus said in the Bible [Matt. 5:44] that we should pray for our enemies, and that we should ask in prayer for forgiveness as we forgive others [Matt. 6:12]. Till date, this is not acceptable to those whose hearts writhe in pain for vengeance on the enemy that caused them misfortunes and miseries of all kinds. So, if cursing and condemning your enemies to the same and worse miseries or ‘sending back to sender’ and damning to hell are the contents of your prayers, how do you expect God who cautions you against it to answer it against His Word in the Bible? God loves us all and gives us all the chance to renew our lives to merit the heaven He gave His life for us for. Do you not know that [as it is said many times by the wise] it is a greater vengeance to pray for your enemies because it is when they realize their wrong against you that they are sorrier for them? Desiring that they do not have a chance of repentance to become good is not congruent with true Christianity – following Christ’s examples and obeying His Word. What I advise is that you ask God to reach out to your enemies as He would, being the Author of their lives, to make them realize the wrong of their way and renew them to love Him and to do good to you. And remember, ‘deliver us from all evil’ is a potent Word of God that He told us to always say in Matthew 6:13. We have to believe that His Word is true and the Lord’s prayer is sufficient, especially when we do not know nor are we sure of what to ask in our prayers.
Regarding our confusion towards God’s silence to our prayer, I figured thus and as I have heard it preached by others: sometimes God’s answer is NO, or YES or NOT NOW, and IT DEPENDS. When He seems to say NO, it proposes that the contents of your prayers are not good, as explained above, or are not suitable for you. When it is YES, no doubt, your response is praises. When it is NOT NOW, you require patience because all will come to manifest accordingly in good time; in the time that is most beneficial to you and to more. Remember, all things work for good for those who love God [Roman 8:28]. But when the answer seems to be IT DEPENDS, it proposes Christ’s answer to His disciples when He told them that some miracles require greater efforts of fasting and prayer [Matt. 17:21]. Hence, some of our prayers depend on the content of our character. This is because certain requests we make are typical of natural phenomena. A crop might not grow unless by the effort of planting it; a salary might not be earned unless you carried out the duties of the job; you might not get fire unless you strike a match; you will not harvest unless you sow. Likewise, many things we request require our personal efforts and examples of good character to influence our neighbours and observers; and with the growth of this good character or act among the relevant influencers and authority, our prayers are eventually made possible – what you sow you shall reap [Galatians 6:7].
I am particular about this IT DEPENDS answer because of the growing saying that ‘all we do is pray’; ‘we have said enough prayer, let’s start acting right’; ‘put prayer aside and do the right thing’. As much as I understand the sentiments that engendered these sayings, my fear about them is that it might gradually spread and confuse our faith in God, and lead to embracing those philosophies [contrary to God’s laws] that are propounded in those societies that have adopted all manner of lifestyles that contradict godliness because of their own lack of understanding of GOD in HIMSELF, His WORD and His SPIRIT. Is it not the Bible that tells us that our faith should go with works [James 2:14]? Does Christ not say ‘Seek and you shall find [Matt. 7:7]? So, why do we act as if ‘being less prayerful but taking the necessary actions’ is a new dawn of truth and life?
Indeed, we should work towards the good we pray for, but never eschew prayer in the process. Why? This is because, whether you pray or not, your actions will always generate their appropriate results. The question is, what is the impact of the results on you? Do the results make you a happier person? Many have attained fame for their works, yet they are not happy. Instead, you hear that they are drunks, indulge in orgies, abuse drugs and commit suicide, among others. I feel [or I may be wrong] that these are exhibitions of depression arising from lack of ascribing all good to God. If you ascribe them simply to your efforts, you fail to realize that you did not create yourself or wire yourself of the talent you used to attain fame. ‘If the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is useless’ [Psalm 127:1]. This means that as we work to appropriately acquire the results of good works, we must pray too for God to see us through in accordance to His will, so that we may bare His fruits of joy, peace, love, kindness, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. God alone bares the fruits of true happiness [and not wanton orgies], and we can only attain it when we pray for His guidance and ascribe all the good to Him who created and gifted us with talents and inspirations to live by in the world. If we do not pray or believe in God, He will certainly still use us [in all good works] to achieve His good will for mankind. This is because whether we acknowledge Him or not, He created us for those works. And we will be the ones at a loss if we do not acknowledge His Hand in the good works that He makes true, through us. And so, Nigerians should not go about saying that we have done enough prayers – prayers can never be enough but always be our instrument in all, because we need to be in constant relation with our God to see us through everything. Rather, let us say that we should match our prayers with good actions, with good character and righteousness, so that we may harvest good times with answered prayers.
When we pray for good government, start with yourself because you are part of government. Be a good example and teach good morals to your children, wards, neighbours, colleagues and wherever you find yourself – be the lead. This will create much positive impact because those who are influenced by you will further spread the good morals; and what you think might take a life time to see the result of your prayers would eventually seem to take a twinkle of an eye. Let us pray thus for our country, that God may deliver us from bad leadership and corruption, renew our leaders and people in His holy way, truth, righteousness and love, so that we may make a holy nation and happy people of the bountiful blessings He has endowed us. Through Christ. Amen.
Sometimes, our prayers are marred with distractions in our thoughts and outer events. We must endeavor to gradually and completely isolate ourselves from these distractions in order to meditate in our communication with God. We must desire to truly love God so He may influence the contents of our prayers to reflect His loving intensions for us.
A meditative communication with God is an elevation into enlightenment that reveals much to us of the meaning of the events of our lives, the Presence and intensions of God in all things; it is an ongoing renewal of self into virtuousness, righteousness and charity; it is a revelation of the Person of our God and the desire to please Him and be like Him; it reforms the contents of our prayer and forms our character in the presentation of ourselves before God in prayer, and before our fellow men in relations; in short, it is a reaching to God, and not to an emptiness, and sets us up on a quest to knowing God better.
But to achieve this meditation, you must also pray for God’s help. This is why I love the movie – WAR ROOM directed by Alex Kendrick 2015, which teaches us that attaining meditation in prayer is gradual and effective in reforming our lives even in a world of chaos, and our reformed character also influence others positively. Our reformation becomes a symbiotic working cooperation with God to achieve answers to our prayers. In the movie, the wife’s prayer began to come true when her reformation causes her to relate better with her inconsiderate husband. And this got him thinking as Providence also interfered in the personal events of his life. His character also changed as he sought for God and reconciled with his wife.
Let us adopt a meditative heart in our communication with God; let the content of our prayers reflect His good intensions for us; let us work with God in righteousness so that with Him our prayers may be answered. Let us do these in our prayers for the renewal of our leaders and people, so that together we may put an end to our wickedness towards one another in the acts of ‘fantastic corruption’, political leaders’ self-serving government, stealing, killing, and other crimes against humanity.
So, whether we open your mouth to pray, or say our prayers inwardly to God who hears us clearly in silence, our prayers must be meditative to reach Him; their contents must reflect the will of the One whom we pray to. God will no longer destroy His creation [to ease your pain] – Genesis 9:11, Isaiah 65:8 – having died for all of us, even in our sinful state; do not worry, the wicked destroy themselves – Psalm 35:8. We do not have to eschew prayer because of the unanswered ones, rather, let us lead a prayerful life and make out time from it to also do good [God’s] work in honesty and righteousness. Parenting, missionary, teaching, social working, political leadership, office working, policing, court of justice, legislating, science and technology, art, music and every legal work are God’s work given us to live by for the good of one another, society and the glory of God – who made us for Himself. Hallowed be Your Name, oh Lord, our God. And may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Through Christ. Amen.
Written by IfeanyiChukwu Oluwafemi Chukwudi, November 15, 2019