For prayer to be effective, it must be driven by passion

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Mrs Rachel Ruto and Chief Justice David Maraga during the National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park Hotel. [Rebecca Nduku]
The nation once again stopped last Thursday to look up to God in prayer. The 2019 National Prayer Breakfast brought together the top leadership from various sectors of society for a time of supplication and thanksgiving to God. Though not unique to Kenya, the prayer breakfast has become a special occasion when Kenyans set aside their differences and in united faith, invoke God’s divine benevolence upon the land. In times past, we have seen great acts of God derive from these meetings.

Unfortunately, as time goes by, some are beginning to question the benefit of this national event. Such cynicism derives from the fact that in spite of this annual fete, nothing seems to be changing for the better. Corruption continues unabated, drought and famine are annual phenomena, and the angel of death seems to be sweeping across the land with mysterious murders and suicides. Hence the question: should our leaders continue to shut down the nation in order to engage in an exercise in futility?

There is something in the human body known as adrenalin. This is a hormone that is automatically generated inside the body when one is angry, nervous, or excited. Once formed, adrenalin causes the heart to beat faster and gives a person more and unusual energy. People gripped by fear have been known to jump over high fences, even run on thorns. Adrenalin is therefore God’s physiological turbo-charge for our body systems to help us escape from danger.

In spiritual terms, we know that with prayer, we can achieve the impossible. But for prayer to be effective, it must be driven by passion and fervency – it requires spiritual adrenalin. The Bible says in James 5:16 that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Like a person functioning under adrenalin, the person praying with passion will find that they can do things that they would not ordinarily accomplish.

Throughout the scriptures, men and women who turned to God in desperation saw God do amazing things before their very eyes. When Moses and the Israelites found themselves in inescapable danger – with Pharaoh pursuing them from behind and the Red Sea in front of them – he cried out to God with high spiritual adrenalin. And God parted the waters. King Jehoshaphat once found himself under siege, with a grand coalition of armies marching against him. The King cried out with holy desperation: “O our God, we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” God caused the raiding armies to fight among themselves until all were destroyed.

In the days of Nehemiah, the city of Jerusalem lay in utter desolation after external attacks. Nehemiah was among those taken to exile but found himself working in the palace. When he heard about the state of his hometown, he sat down and wept; but he also fasted and prayed, acknowledging the unfaithfulness of his people and confessed their sin. God heard Nehemiah’s prayer and helped him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days.

Back in 1984, when Kenya was ravaged by a serious and extremely prolonged drought, President Moi called for a national week of prayer and fasting, culminating in a national day of prayer observed in all churches that Sunday. To everybody’s surprise, the rains came down so heavy that Sunday that even the presidential motorcade was caught up in the floods in Nakuru. The truth is that whenever we come to the place of prayer, our spirit and attitude betray the desperateness of our situation. Fervency is what distinguishes between praying and saying prayers. Thus, just like adrenalin does not flow in ordinary circumstances, so also spiritual fervency will not manifest unless we recognise the gravity of our need.

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Sad to say, but for many of us, the ills in our nation have become normal. Like men and women living in Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s days, we have got so used to our broken walls that though we gather in the place of prayer, there lacks spiritual adrenalin that would inject fervency into our prayers. Thus, our prayer meetings at times become mere displays of external piety without internal fervency. Yet, we must not give up on prayer. Instead, we must congratulate those who faithfully organise these annual prayer breakfasts. What we need is spiritual adrenalin to give the meetings a divine oomph. There is no doubt that prayer remains our only hope.

The writer is the presiding bishop of Christ is the Answer Ministries. [email protected]

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