PRAYER IS NOT THE ANSWER

My friend, Pastor Dele Olawanle authored a book by the above controversial title. Controversial for a Pentecostal Pastor because of what prayer means to us as Christians and more so the tongue talking bunch. In his characteristic bold, blunt and practical approach to teaching and writing, he argues that prayer is not a one size fit all solution to all problems. The book is available on Amazon.com and has a Kindle edition too.

You need to understand that the author has a very rich background in prayer as he was mentored spiritually and ministerially by the late Dr Timothy Obadare who was a church planter, evangelist and revivalist. Based in the Christ Apostolic Church of Nigeria with branches all over the country and beyond, World Soul Winning Ministry founded by Obadare is known for unusual emphasis on prayer and the prophetic ministry. I gave you this background to let you know the author was raised in prayer and continues to be a man of fervent prayer till this day. However, he observed an interesting development which I have also made in over 35 years of Pentecostal Christianity and that is the tendency to see prayer as the solution to all problems regardless of their nature. Spiritual, marital, mental, physical, financial, social, political and economic problems are all to be solved by prayer and that is absurd to say the least.

The above position is the reason why some Christians will tithe their income to church, give offerings at every opportunity, pray fervently for financial breakthroughs but add no extra skills to their current skill sets, keep doing business the same way, stay on the same poorly paid jobs with no concrete plans to enlarge their capacities, continue to manage resources the same way and expect financial breakthroughs. Marital problems are confronted with fervent prayer without any deliberate effort to improve conduct, spend more quality time with the spouse, find ways to make the other party happier but expect a transfiguration of the marriage into a bed of roses. Singles desirous of marriage hop from mountain to mountain, prophet to prophet, rather than develop more attractive personalities, widen their social circles and develop peaceful character traits that can maintain relationships. Nigeria and other nations are supposed to change by divine intervention and yet the same church praying for change compromise on values; with some pastors displaying obscene wealth and materialism, celebrating fraudsters and dubious politicians on their pulpits and only preaching prosperity in the face of declining morals. And yet, they expect national transformation through fervent prayer.

Prayer will always remain fundamental to every life and to every nation. In the words of the late Dr Myles Munroe, it is ‘earthly license for heavenly intervention’. Prayer demonstrates human dependence on the almighty God and will therefore always be indispensable for our personal and societal wellbeing. However, what I have come to describe as the ‘wisdom gap’ is most often the chasm between our dreams and reality, confusion and peace, poverty and prosperity, failure and success, frustration and joy. Visiting Dr David Oyedepo many years ago, he made a statement that remains etched in my memory in his typical sarcastic humor, when he said ‘prayer warriors are worried’. They are supposed to hold the key to every solution through their passionate supplications, but are at a loss for the seeming failure and paralysis of the old faithful weapon of prayer in the face of declining status, unchanging circumstances and degenerating fortunes.

Divine intervention should improve the quality of our results even as we continue to live CHRIST-centered and purpose-driven lives. However, there is a reason that without Christ, there are many business successes, happy marriages, economic growth, politically stable nations, progressive careers and peaceful lives. Like Dr Mike Murdock says, there are many who live by the principles of Christ who do not know the person nor the power of Christ. People around the world conduct their lives, businesses, endeavors and national life with sound principles, effective structures and systems based upon time tested values with amazing results that seem out of reach for many of God’s children.

I believe prayer is fundamental to problem-solving but it should be primarily directed to asking God for wisdom(James 1.5). With faith that God is answering our prayers, we should then seek for wisdom by revelation as we dive into bible study, formal and informal education, also seeking guidance from mentors and counselors. The application of knowledge gathered will start yielding results. Most of what we want to accomplish have been accomplished by many others and their wisdom is chronicled in books. Some that we have access to will be willing to sit down with us and tell us. A heart that is hungry for the knowledge of wisdom will find it and one willing to put in the hard work of application will be rewarded(1 TIMOTHY 4.12). My conclusion is that we should pray as much as we can but find out all we need to do about what we are praying for and do them.

I know from first-hand experience that we live in a clime where lots of witchcraft attacks and magic spells abound against people’s progress. To now generalize that as the only reason why potentials are not realized is simply a deception. Moreover, as God’s children, bought by the blood of Jesus and endowed with the name of Jesus, we have no business subjecting ourselves to the whims and caprices of demons and witches. Let us pray where we need prayer and move on with God’s help to close the wisdom gap because for many of us, prayer is not the answer to our predicaments.

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