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Lent: Prayer for God’s intervention is required for Nigeria to overcome challenges

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Adegbite

Nigerian Christians have joined their Christian counterparts globally to observe this year’s 40 days of prayer and fasting, which is expected to end on the eve of Easter Sunday. What should the faithful do to maximise the benefit of the period? How can the occasion be used positively, especially in the face of all the challenges the nation is going through? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.

‘Nigeria’s Problems Will End In Praise, As We Fast, Pray’
(Bishop Stephen Adegbite, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos Chapter)

FOR us as Christians, we believe in the efficacy of prayer and fasting. In Mark 9:29, it is clearly stated that this will not go except by prayer and fasting. And because we believe that our God is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord our healer, Who said to us in Matthew 7:7, that when we knock, the door will be open; when we ask, we will receive and whatever we are looking for we will definitely find. God is always with us and fasting is the church’s tradition. After baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting. And afterwards, He came out and started His ministry.

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So, when we fast and wait upon the Lord like Isaiah 30:31 says, ‘when we wait upon Lord, He will renew our strength…’ Everything about this nation Nigeria, the Lord is going to renew them. A time like this is a period of penitence, sober reflection and humility. God will certainly hear our prayer. For instance, when the Israelites fasted, a miracle followed. When Esther fasted for three days, she went to see the king and requested for the unusual and the king granted her request. So, we believe that God is able to deliver us from the current pandemic and any other situation the country is facing. God is able to resolve the issue of insurgency, be it Boko Haram, banditry and herdsmen menace in the land. God says in 2 Chronicle 7:14: ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways He will hear their cry and heal their land…’ Our God will definitely heal our land and it shall be well with us.

Our focus at this time, first and foremost, God is looking for genuine repentance from our sins, our repentance must lead us to faith, our faith must lead us to repentance, faith without repentance is dead and we should discard that. We have faith and we should tenaciously hold on to it at this time. Our God is not wicked. His ears are not too heavy; neither are His eyes shut. He says we should call upon Him and He will be there for us.

My advice to Christians is that we should humble ourselves before God, walk with Him and be kind to one another. We should give to people who are in need, and they don’t have to come to us. We know them and when we do this, God will definitely fight our battles for us. He will lead us aright and it shall be well with us.

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This fasting and prayer couldn’t have come at a better time. God is faithful to renew the strength of His people. He is going to do the same for everyone that will diligently fast and pray for Nigeria, pray for the church, pray for the community and ourselves. As you put something before God and journey with Him spiritually, He will definitely hearken to your cry and grant your heart desire. And you will know that, indeed, God is on our side. He is very near to us. This year is a year of deliverance, a year of moving forward and a year of victory. It’s going to end in praise and that is why we believe God is answering our prayers in Nigeria and in Africa.

‘Lenten Season Enables Christians To Consolidate Their Faith In God’
(Most Rev. Isaac Nwaobia, Archbishop of Aba Ecclesiastical Province/Bishop, Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South (Anglican Communion)

THIS season is a season of sober reflection and showing gratitude to the Lord for His great love for us. Lenten season is a period in which we embark on 40-day fasting and prayer. It is a period of penance, when Christians give and receive forgiveness from God and fellowman. The season enables Christians and indeed believers all over the world to concretise their faith in God through the love and sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour. During Lenten season, churches hold retreats, revivals and crusades, meetings, seminars and other acts of charity and social responsibility. The Lenten season is a period of introspection and sober reflection on various challenges facing us as individuals and as a nation. It is also a period of seeking God’s face and solution for the second wave of COVID-19, insurgency occasioned by Boko Haram, herdsmen and kidnappers in our country. The season affords Christians the opportunity to ask God for the forgiveness of our sins and repent from our wicked ways. And God, Who is full of mercy, promised in 2 Chronicle 7:14 to purge the sins of penitent sinners and heal our land. The period also affords us the opportunity to study, meditate, internalise and practicalise God’s word. It is a time and season to develop the spirit man and put the flesh under, knowing that it is the spirit that quickeneth but that the flesh profits nothing (John 6:63).

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Above all, the Bible provides answers to all human needs and I want to encourage Christians to still observe COVID-19 protocols by washing their hands, observe social distancing and cover their mouth by wearing a face mask regularly to avoid contact with those who have it. Finally, we are to use this opportunity to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service (Rom12: 1-2).

‘Season Affords Us Opportunity To See How Much We Weight In God’s Sight’
(His Grace Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos) 

LENT is a season for fasting and praying, first of all, in repentance of all our sins. It is also a season for making a pledge to God that we shall change for the better. As Christians, we take this seriously because when we fast, we truly plead with God for our sins and make a pledge to God that we shall change for the better as we go into the future. But then, fasting and praying is also supposed to be us a challenge to do something better than we have done in the past.

For example, we use the occasion to make our own personal situations to be better and also others’ situation, particularly the poor in our midst. So, our fasting and prayer should, therefore, be to ask God to change us for the better, and also change people’s circumstances for the better. What this means, therefore, at this point in time, is that when we fast and pray for our own sins, we will also be fasting and praying for the forgiveness of sins of our nation as a corporate entity, because whether we like it or not, individuals that make up the nation have sinned. We have been unfaithful to God in very many ways and our sins and omissions and commissions are responsible for some of the problems we have in our country today. So, when we fast and pray at this time, let it be that we use it to ask God to turn around our situations in the country, forgive us the guilt of our sins. Having said that, we also recognise the fact that we are having security challenges in this country. So, when we pray, it must be that God will speak to the hearts of those who have the responsibility for securing our nation. God will speak to their hearts so that they will do the right thing. Take the right decisions and implement decisions that will help our country to become better in terms of security. We have the problem of banditry and we heard there are people who are behind this banditry and Boko Haram. Part of our prayers, therefore, should be that God would change these people and replace their hard hearts with the heart of flesh so that these issues will come to an end.

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This is one of the most important times of the year for Christians to sit down more than any other time to re-examine our relationship with God and our fellow men and see whether we are truly obeying God’s commandment on love with all our hearts, soul and mind. So, this time, therefore, has that extremely important value of seeing how much we weigh in the sight of God concerning that, which is most important, such as the law of love. We also have the time to make amends by asking God and receiving His forgiveness, which is more available at this time that we call the season of grace.

‘It’s A Season For Christians To Ask God For Mercy, Renounce Evil’
(Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Peter Ogunmuyiwa, Bishop, Diocese of Abuja and the North of The African Church/Coordinating Chaplain, National Ecumenical Centre, CAN headquarters, Abuja)

AT this time, Christians are expected to live above aboard no matter the situation they found themselves. Lenten season is a season set aside for Christians all over the world to seek the face of God through fasting and praying; asking for God’s mercy and to renounce evil ways. This season commemorates the 40 days and 40 nights that our Lord Jesus Christ fasted before He started His ministry. A Christian’s life is not limited to the period of Lent. A Christian must always live sacrificial life even to non-Christians and his community. They are expected to live a life that is worthy of emulation by others. We are called Christians because we fashioned our lives after our Saviour Jesus Christ, and that has to be on daily basis. Our Christian life is not seasonal; rather, it is something that has to be done every day. So, goodness is expected of every Christian, especially in this COVID-19 era.

I think the lesson this COVID-19 is teaching us is that death can come at any time, and we must live our lives as a living sacrifice to God as if we will not see tomorrow. So, this COVID-19 is here to remind both Christians and non-Christians that we need to remember that a day is coming, when you will give an account of all that you have done. So, whether there’s COVID-19 or not, Christians are expected to live a life that is worthy of heaven. This Lenten period is giving us the opportunity to pray for Nigeria so that peace will reign. You can see killings here and there, insurgency, insecurity and this is the season that we need to seek God’s intervention over the situation in Nigeria. We need to cry to the Lord. There was also a period of pandemic and calamity in the Bible, and what the children of God did was to seek God’s face by crying to Him through fasting and prayer. In fact, in Joel, a national fast was called even in Jonah’s story a national fast was also called so that God can repent of His action and bring about peace in the land. So, it’s a season that we need to collectively tell all Christians to pray and ask God to intervene and bring Nigeria back to a period of peace and stop all hatred and divisions going on in the country. All this criminality that is going on needs God attention and intervention. So, this is the best time all of us can come together to pray, and God will turn things around for Nigeria.

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