OPINION: Let Us Pray | Dele Olaitan 


“Suffering and Smiling” is a situation of being uncannily and ceaselessly hopeful in contrast to a stark reality of hopelessness. Being born in a land seemingly “flowing with milk and honey” but forced into living an ironic life of unbearable misery and hardship is the lot of Nigerian masses. Yet they bear this man imposed burden with uncommon confidence and annoying courage. This very deceitful, demeaning and depreciative lifestyle precariously hinged on an equally deceitful “All is well” mien is fast becoming a culture. And with it, Nigeria is perpetuating the cyclical ‘Hope raised, Hope dashed, Hope renewed’ movement. The events at this year’s Durba and Ojude Oba festivals across the nation recently explicitly affirm this “All is well” phenomenon. Can anything be more royal and majestic than a royalty telling political leaders nothing but the truth? But holding Durbar and Ojude Oba with more grandeur than ever before gravely belies the true situation of Nigeria today.



How can Nigerians be having a very big river at their backyard and be washing their hands with spittle? This cannot be acceptable and is not. How can Nigeria said to be world headquarters of prayers where citizens pray ceaselessly have almost nothing to show for it? Two living ironies in Nigeria – miserable existence in the midst of plenty and praying steadfastly but with little results.



Actually, Nigeria and Nigerians are noted for their unceasing prayers and devotion to worshipping their creator unlike any other. But if this diligent devotion to prayers and worship is not yielding desired results, is something very fundamental not wrong? Does it not come to reason that we change the form, style and theme of our prayers? Our approach and methods must essentially change dynamically if we really want change in results to the unceasing prayers in the land. The problem is not from or of God’s for He answers prayers still. We are our own problems.



All believers and religious faithfuls worldwide know the importance of prayers. They not only acknowledge the powerful role prayers play, but do accept that religious adherents and worshippers connect and interrelate with their objects of worship through prayers. While Christianity admonishes adherents for unceasing prayers to ensure constant “walking with God”, Islam made praying five times daily at appointed times a compulsory affair. Other religions also do emphasize prayers as most effective and easiest means of seeking intervention of the supernatural. After prayers comes offerings, sacrifices or rituals.



Prayer is not necessarily only in times of hardships, misery, uncertainty and turbulence. It is equally very useful for seeking guidance and sustenance even in times of prosperity and affluence. Oftentimes however, prayers are offered to request that a bad situation becomes better. It is also offered for a better result to become far better or possibly turn into the best form there could be. But then, faith matters most and is very essential for efficacy, efficiency and potency of prayers. After faith comes the attitude of the person praying. In the heels of attitude follows personal conduct. In essence; faith, attitude and conduct of the person praying all combine to determine the end result or outcome. Prayer is most often a humble request or supplication of a being addressed to another being considered more powerfully endowed and capable of granting favorable action.



Since request is bound on the mood of the benefactor, it may be granted or it may not. This is why the three afore mentioned factors of faith, attitude and conduct of the person making the request are very crucial. So when a child goes with a request before his parents whom he strongly believed are capable of answering him positively, how well he fared on those three indices of assessment would determine his result. This is why not all requests are granted. This is also why certain requests are treated with dispatch and granted speedily while certain others are given “keep in view” (KIV) treatment. Thus even with prayers, it is quite instructive to note that “Heavens help those who help themselves” and that “What you sow is what you reap” or that “As you lay your bed, so you lie on it”.




There is neither cheating nor shortchanging or even short cut with prayers. Though the holy books say God is a very merciful being and the bible categorically affirmed that “He will show mercy for those He wills…”; faith, attitude and conduct largely still remain the cornerstone upon which such benevolence or magnanimity stands. I doubt if there is any instance in either the Holy bible or Koran where God showed mercy unconditionally. It is impossible for one to eat his cake and have it.



This is exactly the biggest and major problem Nigeria and Nigerians have. We most often want to eat our cake and have it. It looks like prayers of Nigerians about Nigeria and for Nigeria are hanging and remain unanswered. There are churches, mosques and other religious worship centers more than anywhere else. Yet, results to our prayers are not reflective of this numbers. Prayers for Nigeria to be as flourishing and peaceful as other nations (with far less religiosity) seems to be hitting the brick walls. Prayers to have good leaders that are humane, benevolent and god fearing is stagnated from conception. So also do supplications for a better nation and prosperous people is given the KIV treatment. Can we claim not to know what is responsible for this state of affairs?



Let us rekindle our prayers with new attitude, new codes of conduct and renewed faith. God answers prayers still. In this direction, may I humbly propose three prayer points for us all to intensify our request. First is in the context of our attitude and behavior as a people. If it is a given that one cannot harvest yam when and where anything else is planted, let us accept that we cannot have a nation like others when we don’t do like them. Our positive attitude is required if we are to have anything better even without necessarily praying. So, let’s first pray that may God visit all those with negative attitudes that affect and influence Nigeria negatively with calamities and unrelenting vicissitudes, amen. Righteousness exalts a nation and we cannot be living in sin and expect grace to be bountiful. He who seeks equity must go with clean hands. The masses cannot be maltreating one another, stealing from themselves, be awaiting the very rare opportunity of becoming leaders so as to steal with impunity and yet expect God to answer their prayers of intervention and deliverance against bad leadership. If we can deceive ourselves, can we also deceive God?




Secondly, let’s pray that may we all have the fear of God which is said to be the beginning of wisdom and is indeed. Our obsession with vanities and worldly possessions which is at the gravitational center of our evil and inhumane interactions with one another is for lack of this wisdom. Were our leaders (political, religious etc) and majority of Nigerians to have the fear of God, they would be more humane, benevolent and considerate. Consciousness of death as the ultimate end of man who is nothing but mere dust and of the Day of Judgment as a reckonable reality should serve as constant reminders regulating human relations. But how could those who do not even genuinely believe that there is God accept that there is such a Day? It is only the consciousness of an existing supreme auditor that makes people conscious of their affairs and conducts on earth. It is thus quite necessary to pray that we have the fear of God in order that we rein in ourselves in accordance with acceptable norms and humane interactions.



Thirdly, let’s pray that God should guide our leaders right to lead us with righteousness and that the followership too should not mislead the leaders by becoming too lax, inactive and passive or too submissive. When the followership indulge and excuse or explain away the shortcomings of the leadership, there is every tendency for complacency and compounded compromise inbuilt. It is this compounded compromise that leaders often use to safeguard themselves in their maladministration and kleptomaniac ruler ship. They feel secure so long the followership are timid from guilt and do not have the moral grounds to challenge or question their actions.




Furthermore however, let us adopt new directions and methods in our approach to prayers. Let us all that are so qualified pray to God Almighty that may Ogun Lakaaye the god of iron speedily intercede on behalf of the victims when and where miscarriage of justice, inequity, unwarranted suppression and oppression occurs. This is very necessary for in Nigeria of today, what is common and quite fashionable is man’s inhumanity to man in our pursuit of worldly possessions. If Ogun is it that shall make us to be and constantly remain our brothers’ keeper, so shall it be.



God is all knowing, all powerful and knows what our problems are as a people. So dear compatriots and fellow citizens, let us finally pray that He uses OGUN LAKAAYE OSHIMOLE to intervene swiftly in all areas that are problematic in our public lives and take redemptive charge with immediate effect, isee.



Major Dele Olaitan (rtd) lives in Shao near Ilorin.