It is a known fact that Nigeria is peopled with highly ‘religious’ adherents, who somewhat become bigotry and fanatical; marked by excessive enthusiasm and intense devotion. In every region of Nigeria, people competitively devout their time, energy and resources in advancing the cause of their religion. Gigantic places of worship are built with sophisticated architectural designs and finishing. In some localities, more funds are spent in erecting religious edifices than on basic amenities (including schools, electricity, potable municipal water supply and hospitals) for public good.
As good as our personal relationship with God is, manifesting the fruits of such intimacy with God supersedes. Every tree is known by its fruits and not by the leaves it bears. Our religiosity without good works, supposedly to be produced by it amounts to idolatry, hypocrisy and pretense.
A new report recently published by the Pew Research Centre revealed the prayer frequency of all countries of the world. The prayer survey was a compilation between 2008 to 2017. Nigeria emerged as the most prayerful nation of the world, with 95% of its people praying daily. Furthermore, Nigeria was closely followed by India, with 75%.
Nevertheless, highly industrialized, developed and economically buoyant nations including China, United Kingdom, Germany and France had the least percentage of 1, 6, 9 and 10 respectively.
The report went a little further to determine the commitment level of Christians the world over. Ethiopian Christians were reportedly the most committed, with 98% praying more frequently and regularly attending religious services. Honduras (South America), Philippines (southeast Asia), Ghana and Nigeria (West Africa) had 94, 91, 89 and 82% of their Christians been more committed.
It is highly paradoxical, illogical and disheartening for the most prayerful nation to also be the most miserable country, one of the most hunger-stricken, with the least life expectancy rate the world over.
Truth be told, we as a nation have long abandoned the core pillars of our religion, which are genuine fear of God and love for humanity. We have long strayed away in pursuit of worldly and selfish gains that only last for a while.
How can we as a nation that lays claim to religion and prayer as our national pride still wallows in severe, dreadful and life-threatening insecurity as never heard of in a once descend nation. Killings everywhere; blood-flows abound. The new business and occupation reigning in Nigeria after the oil sector is kidnapping as recently stated by the president.
Our morality has seriously degraded with very little or no value left. Human lives are not respected and valued anymore. Sanity, decency and decorum are gradually eluding us. Unprecedented fraud reigns at all levels. Evils are invented and practiced daily in Nigeria. The entire country is becoming wild, untamed and feral, like lost sheep in disarray without a shepherd. Libya, Somalia and Syria may be child’s play if nothing urgently is done about our present state.
Prayers are made for good fortunes, prosperity and growth. A prayerful nation should undoubtedly be a prosperous nation, where the fear of God, peace, unity and love reign. Conversely, developed nations that pay less attention to religion and prayers are blossoming in prosperity, wealth and health. The irony of our backwardness amidst our religiosity beats my imagination.
And the trend seems to be the same. Poor, starving, unsafe and underdeveloped countries of the world are the most religious with high level of corruption, mismanagement of commonwealth, political treachery, educational backwardness, disease burdened, wars, terrorisms and insurgencies.
As the most prayerful nation, yet practically struggling on all fronts, one is bound to ask so many questions. What are the motives behind our prayers? How do we pray? To whom are our prayers offered? What do we really pray for? For selfish gain? Or as occupation with handsome pay? Are our prayers with enticing words for mere competition and/or debate?
A prayerful nation that lives in disunity and hatred within its ranks cannot prosper. A prayerful nation that ignores the plight of the helpless and poor masses will in no way progress. A prayerful nation that celebrate injustice will be bound to fail. A prayerful nation that celebrates and elevates failure, mediocracy and trivialize weightier matters bordering its growth and prosperity cannot stand.
In every of our official events, it is a common practice for adherents of the two major religions in Nigeria to both open and close such events with prayer. In fact, in 2012, the Federal Executive Council adopted the second stanza of the National Anthem as the official prayer at public functions. Severally, president Buhari asked Nigerian to pray for him and also the challenges bedeviling the nation. The opposition parties (as expected) chided the president for requesting for prayer and not rising to work.
So long as prayer is good, we as a nation also have a role to play to better our lot. Scripture says “faith without work is dead”. We are to rise up for godliness, love, justice, peace and truth. We must be holy and sincere in all our dealings. For he who trust in God MUST purity himself. We are to work out our unity progress and prosperity with much love and mutual respect for one another.
Nigeria, lets rise up; for we are ABLE!
Reuben Rine – firstname.lastname@example.org