As a preamble, let me state without equivocation that I believe in prayer, only as a spiritual act of communing with God, and not as a religious ritual to express some form of piety. True prayer essentially, has to do with your spirit communicating with the spirit of God, to receive divine instructions and guidance for daily effective living. Effective living in this context is a life driven by purpose, not a life driven by vanities and carnal indulgence.
Conversely, the religious version of prayer that many of us are used to, has taught us erroneously, that prayer is an exercise to inundate God with endless request for self-comfort.
When the disciples of Jesus came to him and made a humble entreaty, saying “Master teach us how to pray’. It was a subtle disapproval of the genre of prayer practiced by the religious Jews. Christ’s response also showed his disdain for pious prayers,
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words”-Matthew 6:7
““When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for. they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the. corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men”- Matthew 6:7
To rectify the anomalies of traditional religious supplication, He introduced a new paradigm of prayer that is popularly called ‘Our Lord’s Prayer’. He taught them saying:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.[
Note the opening two words of Christ model of prayer, ‘Our Father’, which Introduces God as a Father, presupposes that God being our Father needs a relationship with us, His sons and daughter. God being our father also knows our needs and He is able and willing to make adequate provision for us. And this consciousness that God is a loving father should imbue us with the confidence that we can always trust on Him for our sustenance, just like an earthly son would innocently live without care for his daily needs, knowing that his father would always provide for him.
Another very important aspect of Our Lord’s Prayer is, “…. Let thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”( This sounds like God’s own need). This part of Our Lord's prayer comes before ‘’….give us this day our daily bread (our personal needs)’ This precedence of ‘God’s need’ over our ‘personal needs’ shows an order of priority or importance that ought to define the way we pray. So when we pray, God wants us to be more sensitive to His needs, and to receive instructions and guidance on how to meet his needs, rather than ceaselessly asking for our ‘daily bread’
What many of us do not do even realize is that your life is only a provision for God, to meet His needs here on earth
Matthew 6:33 succinctly captures this truth when it states:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.
The will of God for us individually, is to live a purposeful life here on earth; the will of God for us, is to live in love with one another, promote the cause and the culture of his kingdom here on earth.
But it is sad to note that the ideals of Our Lord’s Prayers enunciated by Christ have not only been twisted and perverted to mere pagan rituals, but have callously been elevated to a grand deception, especially by most Christian Pentecostal adherents, who lay arrogant claim as authentic followers of His teachings and the mandate of the Gospel.
Prayer has now become a tool to cleverly evade the simple obligation of our humanity- to show unconditional love and kindness to a fellow human being who is in need.
Many people in church today, are very generous with prayers. (religious prayer is cheap, anyway). They are quick to ‘dish’ out prayers to you, when you come to them with a problem that could be resolved with simple empathy and love.
James 2:15-16 says:
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
This is the hypocrisy and deception that is breeding the proliferation of ‘Prayer houses’ in Nigeria, and Africa today, And these ‘Prayer Houses’ have become a big industry, where prayers for ‘instant miracles’ are ‘manufactured ‘ and sold to gullible Nigerians, while the Pastorpreneurs smile to bank.. The 'prayer industry' has grown so big that, it has even taken over all the factory facilities previously occupied by moribund manufacturing companies that have seen relocated to Ghana.
Prayer in Nigeria, is not just restricted to religious enclave alone, it has evolved into a 'national culture' Nigerians now believe that 'only prayer' is the magic wand needed to effectively resolve the myriads of problems bedeviling our country.. Often times, you hear, “ lets pray for Nigeria” in our churches and Mosques. Most events organized by government officials are never complete without the usual mantra, “let a pastor and Imam lead us in an opening prayer”.
Ask an average Nigeria on the street, what he thinks should be done to save Nigeria. Ninety-five percent of the response you get would be, “Only God can save Nigeria” “ God will give us good leaders someday” blah blah blah…. But please, don’t get me wrong, I believe in prayers, but my point is this, beyond the rituals of praying for Nigeria, we all need to take individual responsibility to create a better society, through moral character and diligence. Work must not be sacrifice on the altar of pious prayers. Developed Nations worked to build their society. Enough of this prayer charade! .
Nowadays, it seems everybody is actively engaged in the prayer sham. The advent of the social media space has even exacerbated this travesty. You could wake up in the morning to discover that the battery of your smart phone has run out:. Reason: Your whatsapp messenger had received an overdose of prayer messages, that ‘killed’ the battery over night. Now, when you even manage to power the battery, delete the messages to give some sanity to your phone, other prayer messages would be waiting for your ‘Amen’ on your SMS inbox. What the hell!
Okay,when you now switch on to Facebook or other social media platforms, to fraternize with friends, the ‘prayer warriors’ will also locate you there, by sending direct messages of ‘powerful prayers’ to change your pathetic condition only with just an ‘Amen’ from you.. Some religious con men have even leveraged on this trend to craft some ‘strong prayerful messages’ which they post frequently to attract thousands of ‘likes’ and ‘Amen’ from their unsuspecting gullible followers.
Finally, this is my puzzle: if every one of us is busy praying for each other, who, then will God use to answer those prayers? Answer me now. ‘Mr.Prayer warrior’.. You are very magnanimous in sending loads of prayer messages to people every day, but when the opportunity comes to express your humanity and show some kindness to people in need, you become stingy with your material resources, and shut your heart of compassion.
Have many times have you given money to beggars on the street or offer a free ride to a total stranger. Every day you walk on the street, you see people who are needy, have you ever stopped to offer a helping hand? Don’t you know that your hand is God’s hand to those who are need around you? Why are you using the ‘alibi’ of prayers to cover up for your selfish lifestyle?
Every post of a story of somebody you see on the social media, requesting for public help, to pay for a medical bill, to stay alive, is a ‘scam’ to you, This is the ‘clever’ excuse you usually give because you are not ready to help anybody. The annoying part of this culture of deception is that, many people would rather make ‘powerful prayer’ comments on that same post than to give their money to save a life that is dying. What an absurdity!
You know what? God does not want you to disturb Him with your empty prayers any more. Don’t pray for others, when you are supposed to help them. You are a deceiver! God does not want you to bother him about the needs of somebody else, He created them, so he knows their needs more than you. Save your prayers!
Go and do the needful: “ love your neighbor as yourself” . The help your offer to somebody in need, is a prayer answered, for that person.
Azemobor Gregory, The International Coordinator of Voice of Divine Truth International Outreach is a Messenger of Truth and Apostle of Humanity
Follow him on Instagram: @gazemobor