Lenten Season: Let’s Use This Period To Ask God To Heal Our Land
This year’s Lenten season in the Christian calendar started last Wednesday, after churches, especially the Orthodox ones observed Ash Wednesday. With this, Christians have commenced the season with intensive fasting and prayers, abstinence from food and fleshly desires, coupled with almsgiving. They are expected to do this for a period of 40 days and thereafter, mark the celebration of Easter, when Christ was crucified and on the third day rose triumphantly from the grave. The period is so critical in Nigeria, especially as it coincides with the election period in the land. So, what does this portend for Christians and the country in general? What should be the conduct of Christians during this period of fasting and prayer for the country? Would it impact on the campaigns, as well as make people to fear God? Some clerics gave their views, as reported by CHRIS IREKAMBA.
Christians Should Intensify Prayers For God’s Mercy And
Intervention In The Country’
(Most Rev. Emmanuel Egbunu, Archbishop/Bishop of Lokoja Province, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
I THINK it is providential that lent is falling within this time, when the country, as it were, is hanging in suspense. So, it calls us to intensify prayers for our country, because going by all that we are hearing from prominent people, one can say we are hearing the drums of war. But Lent makes us feel that we can still have this hope of God’s intervention, as we pray.
So, I will urge Christians to intensify prayers for God’s mercy and intervention in our country. And there are many parts of the Bible really, which encourage this kind of thing.
For example, in Amos chapter 7:1-5, God showed Amos a vision of impending doom and Amos cried to God in prayer and He said it shall not happen. So, God changed His mind because Amos prayed.
In Jonah chapter 3: Jonah allowed judgment against the sinful city of Nineveh and when the people repented God changed His mind. So, I feel that Christians should see this, as an opportunity to ask God to change whatever disaster is ahead. I believe He will hear us.
On the impact that this would have, we cannot predict how people will behave. But surely, for all politicians who are church going people and who listen to the word of God, this is a time of sober reflection. It’s a time for moderation, and a time to really take heed of ourselves.
So, I expect that it would impact positively on those who take the blessings of this time seriously. If people are fasting, which is meaningful when accompanied with charity and charitable acts. In that sense, therefore, I expect it should moderate excesses.
People can decide not to respond to the prompting of God’s Spirit, but as I said, this time should definitely impact on anybody who takes this time seriously and anybody who is a Christian. For that reason, if they have any evil intention or intend to incite people to do things that are not for the good of the country, they should avoid it. That is what we hope it would do and it’s also a time for both religious leaders and all well-meaning Nigerians to impress on the political class that this country is bigger than any individual. This country is the creation of God and He is determined to preserve it and no one should, therefore, take sides with the enemy to destroy what God is building.
‘It’s A Time To Reconcile And Amend Ways’
(His Eminence Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN)
IN the book of Joel 2:1-17, it says, ‘this period is a period of solemn assembly, it’s a time for serious prayer, it’s a time for fasting, it’s a time for self-disciplining, it’s a time of avoiding sin, and being very close to God and it’s a time to engage in prevailing prayer for the whole nation. It’s a time to reconcile and amend ways, then mend fences with our neighbours and it’s a time for holy living and we cannot depend on ourselves, because to live a holy life, we must depend on God.
Nigeria belongs to all of us. It is not an exclusive preserve of some politicians. Nigerians are the ones that give mandate for leadership. Therefore, if we love Nigeria, our civic obligations include ensuring that we obtain our PVCs, especially those who have not done so. And then, we should ensure that we vote according to our consciences and never allow ourselves to be influenced by money, which is a tool that can be used or misused. It can be used correctly for the advancement of civility, as well as the advancement of peace and stability, but it can also be used as an agent of destruction. So, we shouldn’t love money to our detriment.
Nobody should shoot himself or herself on the leg, because our country needs redemption from hawks; it needs redemption from devourers and forces. So, we should ensure that we protect our country. We cannot afford to leave our country in the hands of plunderers and devourers. We must invite God to take care of this nation and appoints for us whoever is good to rule it, because He knows the best candidate. We look unto Him to give us the best and nothing but the best.
A Christian should be very mindful of what he says because sin can come through any of these three aspects: you can sin in thoughts, in words and in deeds. So, our thoughts should be direct and accurate. Our speeches should be seasoned with salt and our actions should glorify God. And so, when we have these in mind, I don’t think it will be easy to sin. Our aim should be to revere God and honour men. Honouring men means we should uphold the sanctity of life, because life is sacred and it should not be messed up.
‘We Should Think Of Our Brothers, Sisters And Neighbours’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
IN the first instance, we must realise that the Lenten season is essentially a season as Prophet Joel said, ‘returning to God and making peace with Him in all areas of our lives that we may have fallen short.’ So, it’s a time for us to reflect on our lives and identify where we have gone astray and go back to God, seek for reconciliation and forgiveness.
That means, therefore, that we should pray fervently, fast and do the acts of almsgiving. We are to demonstrate our readiness to come back to God and reconcile with Him. Such that during this period of time, we should also think of our neighbours, brothers and sisters and reconcile with them, wherever things may have gone wrong in our relationships.
But with regards to our country Nigeria, it’s a time to pray perhaps more fervently than ever before. Because part of what is required during the season of Lent is prayer, apart from almsgiving and fasting. Prayer is also another requirement and so, we should pray for our country more than ever before, knowing fully well that the country is at a very critical stage.
We are passing through many trials, temptations and tensions everywhere. Therefore, we must lift up our country in prayers. But of course, it also means that we must take steps as human beings to remedy the conditions, as we have it now.
For me, that means that people should ensure that they work for peace, speak words of peace and try to make peace among themselves. Such that our country would experience the kind of peace that we really do expect of it at this point in time. So, basically, we are to pray for peace and work for the peace of the country.
‘Disciplining Ourselves This Season Is Very Essential’
(Pastor Paul Obadare, General Overseer of World Soul Winning Evangelical Mission (WOSEM)
CHRISTIANS, especially at this Lenten period, should focus on disciplining themselves. We should supplicate to God because He rules in the affairs of men and when we pray, then we are rest assured that He will give us victory.
And because now we are fasting and praying, the impact will be tremendous. This is a period to lift our communities and the country up by praying to God so that whatever is happening — be it political or otherwise — God who rules in the affairs of all men will help us to stabilise the nation and install whoever is capable of moving this nation to another level.
This notwithstanding, the political situation in the country and the stability of our nation will be our focus during our prayer meetings.
However, it’s erroneous to think that 40 days are enough to make somebody fear God. I believe Lent is a time for those who already fear God to improve their lives spiritually and physically. Fasting and prayer cannot change someone, who has not been saved before just like that. This period serves as an assessment of the past and asking God for the grace to do much more than we have been doing before. It’s the heart that is already changed that would continue to engage in this type of exercise for improvement and not for any miraculous change.
Hopefully by God’s grace, we will learn to improve on what God has done for us and use this time to fellowship with our Father in Heaven so that we can improve on our characters. Then, after the 40 days, we will be able to do much more and be empowered to be more faithful and holy. We need sanctification, holiness and the fear of God in this nation. The fear of God is what we are looking for, especially among Christians and not even the politicians. It is true that some of these politicians are Christians, but we don’t see them conducting themselves in an exemplary manner.
If you are looking for a good politician, then I will show you a good example in the Bible and that is Daniel. Daniel’s character was excellent in every aspect of his life. Christianity is living righteously and demonstrating exemplary virtues and not just talking. Christian politicians should be able to make a difference in their constituencies and their communities. But this is not so.
We should discipline ourselves and then commit the stability of our country into the Hands of God, including political issues such as the tension and insecurity.
As Christians, we don’t have to entertain fear like unbelievers. If we have confidence in the God that we serve, we should have the confidence to go before Him and table before Him our desires and requests concerning the forthcoming elections.
‘The Season Is A time To Ask God For Forgiveness’
(Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Peter Ogunmuyiwa, Director of Ecumenism in the African Church/ CAN’s Coordinator on National Issues For Southwest)
ORDINARILY, when you say you are a Christian, your life should be fashioned after that of Christ. Fasting period is one that calls for sober reflection. The book of Joel 2:15 talks about “calling for a solemn fast.” It is a universal fasting, which unites all churches in the whole world together. It is a period for Christians to reflect on their past lives and have a quiet time with God. It’s a time of repentance, a time of spiritual renewal, a time that you abandon sin and of course, it is a time you need to examine yourself and ask, ‘what have I done wrong?’ What have I done to offend God and my neighbour? And so as a Christian, your life is supposed to be in that pattern, especially now that we are in the Lenten season.
Christians are expected to be more sober. Those in government are expected to look at their lives and see whether they are living in conformity with God’s standard. And if you have fallen short of that standard, this is the time to cry unto the Lord and ask Him for forgiveness. He will visit you with favour and mercy. Then you are renewed.
We also call on Christian politicians to use this opportunity to have a rethink about their lives. This world is not forever, it’s a place you visit briefly and then go back. If this is so, why then would anyone amass wealth? Why are people so greedy to the extent of appropriating what belongs to the public? This is the season for genuine repentance and reconciliation with God. Go back to Jesus Christ and you will have a renewed life.
Psalm 61:10 says, ‘create in me o Lord, a right spirit, renew a right spirit within me.” This is the period we need to ask God to reform and break us and then remould us because the opportunity might not come again. Jesus Christ can come today or tomorrow; we don’t know when He is coming. If you make use of this Lenten season and rapture takes place tomorrow, then you will be rapturable.
People shouldn’t just live as if there is no tomorrow. Even Jesus Christ asked His disciples, ‘what do people say I am?’ By that, He examined Himself before His disciples and the same way we should examine ourselves daily.
I believe that God does not do anything by accident. When the election was postponed, some people said it was not a good development. But you can see that God wanted us to have a spiritual rejuvenation so that we can eventually have the best of our politicians emerging at all levels.
I think the Lenten season coinciding with a period like this, when we are preparing for election, is a very good thing. And we should take advantage of that to believe that God Himself wants to purge us of all our inadequacies so that we can begin to live a new life. Every Christian politician should take advantage of this period to purge himself or herself.
In the Biblical days, for instance, the children of God never experienced victory, unless they first went through fire, temptations and some sort of purging and by the time they get the victory, it was always permanent. I think that is what God has for us at this time and which is why our election and preparation are coinciding with a period of repentance and sober reflection. I think it’s a blessing to Nigeria and with this, God is going to reform and reshape Nigeria and the next election is going to bring a great transformation to the life of this nation.
‘God Will Uphold This Nation’
(Ven. Uzodi Obialo, Archdeacon, All Saints Christ Army Church of Nigeria, Ajangbadi Ojo L.G.A)
IN Christ Army Church, we have not received any prophecy from God concerning our great country, Nigeria and the forthcoming elections. Whatever message we release to the public is always very authentic. All those saying negative things about the country and the forthcoming elections are on their own. God has not shown us that there will be war, during or after the elections.
In fact, a member of our church in Mgbidi, Imo State called to know whether there would be war in the land. Because she had been fed with lies that there would be war in the country, she was panicking. And many Nigerians are in that kind of state now, but the God that we serve and call upon everyday has not told us there will be war.
So, I want every child of God to go in that strength, believe God and His prophets and they shall be established. In Nigeria, we have false prophets who go about saying what God has not said.
My advice to people is that they should go about their normal businesses. The election will hold and there will be no war. There may be clashes here and there, but God Who holds the world in His hands will uphold this nation. As Christians, we should intensify our prayers and fast for this nation, particularly, as this Lenten period is coinciding with the general elections. The Christian’s key to success is prayer. And I urge Christians to pray fervently, especially at this period that the country is going through thick and thin. God will answer us. That I believe.
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