Give to Caesar: Nigerians should find the fine balance between prayer and work

By Bamidele Salako

We like to deceive ourselves in Nigeria. But God is not mocked. If there’s a problem Nigeria has, it is certainly not a prayer problem.

We pray. Whether we pray aright or amiss is another kettle of fish. But people pray.

In some of the places I worked in Nigeria, morning devotion or brief prayers on Mondays were a sine qua non. You dare not miss devotion.

Chances are you have gone past marketplaces on environmental sanitation Thursdays in Lagos and heard loud speakers blaring with the voice of a praying pastor or praise-singing traders.

In Nigeria, almost every business transaction or pledge to attend a future event is concluded by the popular refrains “By God’s grace” or “God willing”.

In spite, bosses delay or owe salaries, businessmen and traders swindle, government officials embezzle, employees do personal business on company time, many underhanded activities go on in regulatory agencies, contractors inflate contract fees and deliver awful jobs – systemic dysfunctions that culminate in all the ugly events we witness with alarming regularity in Nigeria.

Yet some still think the call is for people not to pray. No, you’re wrong sirs. This is not a prayer problem. We pray and yes we cannot pray enough.

Ours is the case of a man who walks barefooted on hot coals and expects not to be burned because his father is a coal miner. Or a man who goes to bed in a troubled neighbourhood with his doors unlocked because he has prayed to God for protection.

We don’t leave the success of our academic endeavours or business concerns to prayer. We work hard, we study hard, we attend business schools to gain cutting-edge knowledge and skills even when we have prayed. Why are we suddenly up in arms that Nigeria will become a developed nation through prayers when clearly folks who don’t pray are doing way better on the development stakes than us?

Were the natural principles being adhered to for success in those godless nations not set in motion by God? Were the natural and mineral resources being harnessed for development not put in place by God? Are the brains being maximised for innovation not created by God?

The herdsmen killings, the Boko Haram bombings, the endless needless accidents and massacres, the poor quality of healthcare and fallen education standards, the bad leadership and followership are all in spite of decades of prayers “For Nigeria.” If those ills were meant to be corrected by prayers, then those prayers have not worked.

Let’s stop mixing things up. If anyone is undermining prayer or the power thereof, it is those who view prayer an an escape from responsibility.

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