The social media gods are boiling. They have every reason to boil. A respected Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, just vomited what many described as an unjust and ungodly prayer.
This has unsettled the internet. Netizens are calling Pastor Adeboye out. Even those who might have said amen to the prayers unwittingly must have joined in condemning the prayer.
What is the prayer?
Before this time next year, your colleagues will be coming to you for food. They will be coming to you for refreshment. I decree that in your family, you will be the go-to person in Jesus’ name.
Pray, is that not a prayer? It is. Prayer is a wish. Whether the wish comes to pass or not is another issue entirely.
What is wrong with the prayer?
The second question; what is wrong with the prayer? Don’t we desire to be the go-to person?
The average black man has the go-to mentality. We want to be the ones calling the shots. We want to control the purse. We want people to do rankadede to us.
Have you ever wondered why people steal so much money in the government coffers and turn around to do charity? They want to be in control. They want to be the ones giving out the cash so people can pay them homage. Nigerians don’t mind thieves who distribute their loot.
It is that same mentality and cultural orientation that has been brought into the church. That perhaps informed the Adeboye prayer.
The shock response
The first shock for me is the shock of the internet response. This is not the first time prayer in such direction is said by Pastor Adeboye and indeed from many pastors. The Nigerian church has a cultural issue. What obtains in our culture tends to rub off on the church.
If you put the prayers on our pulpit under spiritual binoculars, only about 20 percent of them will pass the Christian test.
We are only entertaining ourselves by some of our prayers and it’s really good we wake up from this spiritual slumber.
But let’s come back to Pastor Adeboye’s prayer. As I said earlier, it is common to hear such prayers from the mouths of many church leaders. A bishop was so agitated by another of such prayers. The prayer was: Those who say you will not see tomorrow will die a sudden death.
He was fuming while telling me about the unscriptural nature of such prayer. He tried to show me the link to the prayer. I laughed and said, but that has been the norm on many of our altars. Are you just waking up?
Several years ago, some pastors, all males gathered at a prayer mountain to pray and there was this strange prayer point. If you want your wife to die raise your hands. And a lot of the men in that congregation raised their hands. And prayers were said in that direction. The pastor who narrated the story was in the meeting. He was shocked and confused.
This is how we roll. Our prayers are self-seeking and in many cases have no root in the Bible. Such prayers are endless. Our Thanksgiving points are as horrible as our prayers. A pastor comes to the pulpit and tells the congregation, many are deaf and dumb, thank God you’re not deaf and dumb. Pray, are the deaf and dumb not also thanking God?
Many of us are guilty of this self-centered prayer. The question is how do you say prayers without impugning on the psychology of another person? I recommend that you just do your prayer and give your thanks without comparison. You have no business with those who have died. Thank God for the gift of life. Leave those who have died, they have finished their race, and it is no crime that they have passed on.
Some people pray: Many people are in the hospital, thank God I am not in the hospital. Your business with those in the hospital is to pray for them. Thank God for your health and pray for those who are in the hospital. Making a comparison of your condition in the name of giving thanks is awful.
When you pray: I thank you I am not like Mr. A who does not have a place to sleep you have only acted like the Pharisees whom Jesus reprimanded. He went to the temple and prayed, Lord I thank you I am not like this publican, I pay my tithe…
Head not tail
And then we have the famous mantra mostly by the evangelicals and Pentecostals, I am the head and not the tail.
This prayer is particularly drawn from the scripture where God told the children of Israel in Deut 28v13: The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
We mouth this confession. But we all fail to look at its context. God gave them that promise in the context of their status as a nation. God was setting the children of Israel up as a prototype for the human race and indeed an example of his salvation plan. And there is a condition.
But we know that the children of Israel fell short of that promise as they were often thrown into exile and enslaved by people of other lands.
The average Pentecostal however quotes this scripture with relish. What is often implied is that he will always be the leader anywhere. Meanwhile, Jesus came and said, that those who want to lead should be servants.
The ministry of Jesus is about service to humanity and not Lordship. By the way, we will be creating a monster society if everybody is head. Every part of the body is useful.
Parroting prayers without living the life that will make them work is like trying to force a table to play the role of a chair.
The result won’t be palatable. It also shows our lack of understanding of the New Covenant in the sense that we do not understand what Jesus came to do by His death and resurrection.
Read also: Many older generation of Pentecostal Pastors have issues but…Pastor Adeboye: https://churchtimesnigeria.net/older-generation-pentecostals-adeboye/
The Old and New Covenant
The Old Covenant is essentially physical and has to do with mundane things. That is why we see expression of wealth in physical terms and we see war conquest as victories.
But after the death of Jesus and His resurrection, the expression of wealth is spiritual. We have been blessed with all spiritual blessings. Our blessing in the New Covenant has nothing to do with material blessings. Even though there is nothing wrong with that.
The point is that we no longer judge our blessings by the things we possess. That is why Jesus said, the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of the things that he has.
Every believer has to be guided by the kind of prayers we extract from the Bible and be sure that we are being led by the spirit of God. That a prayer is in the Bible does not make it of God. All kinds of people pray in the Bible and those prayers were documented for our learning and admonition.
We need to rely more on the leading of the holy spirit to guide us through. Some Psalms are not prayers the believer should pray. Jesus is the standard we are to follow not the Psalmist. David indeed exhibited some of the traits of the New Testament but some of his prayers are wild and fall short of Jesus’ instruction. We are asked to bless and not to curse.
David had an understanding of the mercy and love of God. But then, he did not experience salvation in the context of the New Covenant because Jesus had not died when he lived. So we can’t judge his predilections.
The Adeboye prayer
At the risk of not trying to x-ray a revered man of God who has laboured faithfully for many years in the body of Christ, praying that colleagues will come to us for food is a demonstration of his love for the Old Covenant kind of prayer.
What if Pastor Adeboye had prayed: By this time next year your colleagues will come to you to hear God’s word. Or that you will be the go-to person when it comes to the truth of the Bible. What about that? Why must it be about food that will perish with those who eat it?
We are no longer in that era where physical things determine our faith. We are in an era where a man’s life does not consist in the things that he has.
The post pulled down
The good thing is that RCCG has reportedly pulled down the post. It is worrisome however that it’s a video clip that cannot be wished away. People have copied it and it has assumed a celebrity status of a sort.
The caution is however not about Pastor Adeboye, it’s about many servants of God who make prayers that pander to the flesh.
Pastors want to play to the gallery. They want to excite their audience. There is a microphone anointing that makes some church leaders spew inanities.
There is something the crowd does to the message of a man of God. Preachers have to watch out. There are things they won’t say where two or three are gathered. But they will unknowingly say in the presence of thousands. It is the motivation that comes from the crowd.
Adeboye, not what Netizens think
Ironically, Pastor Adeboye is not what Netizens think he is. He is not the type that would not wish for a good country where everybody will be comfortable. And I don’t think he meant to paurperise some people through the prayers.
Anybody who cares to know more about the theology of Pastor Adeboye would do well to read the Open Heaven devotional and the Sunday school manual of the RCCG.
The devotional of today, January 21 in the Open Heaven contradicts the controversial prayers. It reads:
Many people want to be one of God’s best friends so that whenever they ask Him for something, He will do it for them immediately.This is surely one of the benefits of being one of God’s best friends, however, those who really become such care more about Him than they care about themselves.The priorities of a man are known from his prayer points.
If your prayers are always selfish, God will not make you one of His best friends. In fact, He will not answer your prayers when they are born out of your lusts (James 4:3).Those who will be one of God’s best friends are people who pray God’s prayers and want to partner with Him to establish His will on earth.
They are people who say regularly, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When such people go to pray, they don t go with preconceived prayer points at all times.They make a habit of going into His presence with a burden to hear from Him about what He wants to be done on earth and to pray those things into existence.Every now and then, God needs someone to stand in the gap for His people, He needs someone to pray about a particular situation so that He can have the legal right to step into that situation.
If you are an intercessor, always willing to pray God’s will into existence, He will draw you closer to Himself.He will tell you things that He usually doesn’t tell others and show you sides of Himself that others don’t see – He will even reveal His burdens to you!Only those willing to share in God’s burdens can become one of His best friends.
What went wrong?
If you place this side by side with some of Pastor Adeboye’s prayers on the pulpit, there is practically no correlation.
Perhaps, his messages and prayers for the pulpit are different from the messages and prayers in the devotionals and books.
Whichever way, the anger online is not misplaced. It is a call to all church leaders to begin to examine the kind of prayers they utter on the pulpit. Our prayers should be about God’s will not our selfish desire.
By Gbenga Osinaike