“Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.” E.M. Bounds
One of the greatest evils bedeviling the Body of Christ today is self-centeredness and by extension church-centeredness. We are so consumed with ourselves and our churches that nothing else matters to us. We are self motivated in the things we do, the places we go, the things we spend money on and sadly our prayers.
The self spirit is reflected in the songs we sing and the kind of people we relate with. It is the message of the modern age. I have heard preachers tell their congregation not to interact with people that will not add value to them. I share in this line of thought too. But what about adding value to people. Why must somebody always add value to us? Why must somebody always give us? Why are we not at the giving end? These questions can go on and on.
If self is at the centre of your action you are likely to be at variance with God. Have you ever paused to ask yourself and examine the content of your prayers from Monday to Sunday from prayer meetings to vigils from conferences to retreats? What is the content of your prayers? Why do we pray in the first place?
Prayer is the life of the Christian. Through prayers we bring God to act in the situation of man. Unfortunately we have failed to bring the hand of God down to the situations around us because our prayers are self motivated.
We can complain about everything and pray about nothing except praying for our selves. We fail to realize that prayer rules the universe. God will not act on the situations that surround us until we pray. Unfortunately there are churches that have run through the years without breathing a word of prayers for the community they are located. We turn blind eye to the challenges around us and we concentrate more on our own thing.
I was discussing with a pastor friend and he shared with me how he organised days of prayers for the police. As God would have it, it was not long after the prayer sessions that the police were barred from harassing motorists. If you observe the incidence of police harassment on the road has greatly reduced.
But many of us worry about the police, but have never raised prayer support for them? We worry about bad infrastructure and corrupt government but do we constantly and regularly pray for those in government? Many of the prayers we raise for government are done so we can satisfy our conscience and not because we have a passion to see a change.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy is that first, prayers should be made for all men and then for leaders and those in authority so we can live a peaceable and quiet life. We are in trouble today in Nigeria not because Christians don’t pray but because our prayers and petitions to God are all about ourselves. Our voices go up more when we are asked to pray against our so called enemy or pray for a form of breakthrough.
The questions we must keep asking is: If we have the good life where are we going to live the life? God can bless us with all the material things we want, but if the society where we live is not in peace and if there is so much poverty around us, those blessings will make no meaning.
There is a strong tendency especially among the elite Christian to build a fence around themselves and pretend that all is well. But in the real sense all is not well. The Christian life without compassion for sinners and those who are facing one challenge or the other is a miserable Christianity. We may have the biggest sanctuary, drive the biggest car and parade ourselves as being blessed of the Lord, if our heart does not go to the less-privileged, we are denying the basis of the Christian faith.
Jesus took the form of man and died for humanity. He laid an example for us. God has called us to lay our lives for the brethren. This may sound esoteric but the truth is that a child of God who does have compassion for the lost world around him is perhaps yet to understand the mandate God has given him.
It is unfortunate that when issues like these are raised, the first thing that comes to mind is money. But we don’t need all the money to do good. The first thing the Lord requires from us is a willing heart and a compassionate heart that will take the problem of the people to God in prayers. John Knox who prayed that heart rending prayer that “God give me Scotland or I die” did not spend money before revival broke out in Scotland . Paul was so passionate about his Jewish brothers that he prayed that he wished that he were accursed for the sake of his brothers. Moses interceded to the Israelites to the point that he asked God to blot his name out of His book for their sake.
But for us, we have this, “I’m saved going to heaven mentality” that we don’t even think of others in our long list of prayers. How many times have we travailed for souls to be saved? We complain that our churches are not growing but the vigils we hold and the prayer conferences are about our own breakthrough and breakout.
The average prayer meetings in churches today are about attaining destiny and the recovery of glory. There are times I wonder what other destiny we are looking for other than our destiny in Christ. It will be great if there are churches that pray and intercede regularly for the community they are located. The reality is that the church is fast slipping into the abyss. We are gradually moving away from our core values. We are gradually taking on the garb of the world and doing things just the way the world would do it and perhaps in a more distressing way.
There are two ways to know a church if it is God-centred or self-centred. Check what they pray on and check their anchor theme for the year. Surprisingly, the year theme of some churches that you think are not doing it right is Christ centred while that of many others that we so much have regard for are self and church-centred. They are usually about blessing, promotion and increase. It’s rare to see themes that are kingdom centred like “my year of soul winning”.
We hardly talk about the kingdom and our prayers don’t reflect a concern for the kingdom. Jesus did not lay such precedence. He taught his disciples to pray that His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. It is the will of God that we prosper and be in good health. He wants his children to live long and live well too. The point however has to be made that God is more concerned about the expansion of his kingdom and that the people of the world will live the God kind of life. And this can only be birthed through our preaching, prayers and intercessions.
If all we go to do at vigils is to claim and receive then we are parading the gospel of self. It is essential we pray for ourselves. If we don’t, nobody will pray for us. But what portion of our prayers do we devote to the kingdom of God ? A preacher once made a remark that in the whole of the Lord’s prayer only one line talks about our need, which is “give us this day our daily bread” the others are about Christian living and the kingdom.
You probably have bought DVD or CDs which is solely prayers. What do you get from such medium? It is all about self and self alone. There is usually somebody who pretends to be praying but in actual fact he is cursing and raining curses on one perceived enemy or the other. May God break the yoke of self centredness in us and bring us to a place of intercession and compassion for a failing world.