Headline: Stay With Us Lord

Posted on: 2015-02-05

Come reason it out

The publication, The Economist, once wrote that Nigeria has become a country where the best is impossible and the worst never happens. Many Nigerians would perhaps agree with that description which anyhow shows a bit how convoluted things have become as we grope for solutions to our country's challenges. In such a situation some analysts make huge sense while others sound downright ridiculous. I watched with wonder when recently a guest on a Nigerian television programme derided the role of prayer in changing Nigeria. The individual specifically condemned the "Prayer for Nigeria in Distress" composed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), which has been widely used for years now within and beyond Nigeria. He proposed a better path which, for him, would be to concentrate on action as he claimed his Bible recommended. In that way, he said, we can stop all pretense and save time on prayers. No doubt, sustained frustration can interfere with human appreciation of the dynamics of prayer as an effective transforming activity. How this man thought that prayer directly excludes constructive action still beats my understanding.

Work and Pray

Christians can never downgrade prayer in anything they do. Does the Bible itself not teach that "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain? (Ps. 127:1). "Lord teach us to pray as John taught his disciples" (Lk. 11:1), "...we walk by faith not by sight",(2Cor. 5:7), do not mean that we veil over our eyes, pray and stop acting. They simply remind us that our intellect, vision and action are comprehensively insufficient to see us through life without prayer. Christendom has always cherished connecting human effort with divine power and will. That is why Saint Benedict's rule of life, "work and pray", has become the rule for millions of all confessions in the world. People of faith especially must resist post-modern attempts to exclude God and spirituality from human life and work if society would not become the Biblical house built on sand (Matt. 7: 26-27). Western civilization, in spite of astounding intellectual scientific and technical prowess, is showing tragic evidence of such a crumbling house.

Praying still for Nigeria

Nigeria, at the moment, needs a lot of prayers. While we do all we can to salvage it from chaos, there is no better time than these period of the general elections to insist on prayers that petition God for mercy and arouse human conscience to change because prayer itself is also propaganda. You have to wonder why anyone could object to such prayer. I gladly re-propose these prayers to every Nigerian of goodwill:

For Nigeria in distress

All powerful and merciful Father, you are the God of justice, love and peace. You rule over all the nations of the earth, power and might are in your hands and no one can withstand you. We present our country Nigeria before you, we praise and thank you, for you are the source of all we have and are. We are sorry for the sins we have committed, and for all the good deeds we have failed to do. In your loving forgiveness, keep us safe from the punishment we deserve. Lord, we are weighed down, not only by uncertainties but also by moral, economic and political problems. Listen to the cries of your people who confidently turn to you. God of infinite goodness, our strength in adversity, our health in weakness, our comfort in sorrow. Be merciful to us, your people, spare this nation Nigeria from chaos, anarchy and doom. Bless us with your kingdom of justice, love and peace. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.  

Against bribery and corruption

Father in heaven, you always provide for all your creatures, so that all may live as you have willed. You have blessed our country Nigeria with rich human and natural resources, to be used to your honor and glory and for the well being of every Nigerian. We are deeply sorry for the wrong use of these your gifts and blessings, through acts of injustice, bribery and corruption, as a result of which many of our people are hungry, sick, ignorant and defenseless. Father, you alone can heal us and our nation of this sickness. We beg you, touch our lives and the lives of our leaders and people, so that we may all realize the evil of bribery and corruption, and work hard to eliminate it. Raise up for us God-fearing people and leaders who care for us and who will lead us in the path of peace, prosperity and progress. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

A Year For The Consecrated Life

2015 falls within the period declared by Pope Francis as a "Year of the Consecrated Life" Consecrated Life in Catholic tradition refers to those who, by a religious vow or profession, dedicate their lives completely to God in chastity, poverty and obedience for mankind in prayer and service. Who among us has not encountered Catholic Reverend Sisters working in our schools, hospitals or walking on our streets? They are the consecrated people who through their work and prayer, seek only to create a better world and attain eternity with God. The Pope said that such persons are specially called to follow Christ and "to awaken the world" by their example and commitment. Consecrated people are a constant reminder that it is possible to happily live for others and that each of us too must become light, wherever there is darkness. We must exploit this period to appreciate, celebrate and encourage such selfless people in our society as a counterweight to the selfish and corrupt individuals who dominate our world. Happy celebration to all Consecrated Persons!