The Church in Zambia has just concluded the three-day prayer and fasting programme meant to end the gassing incidences happening across the country. This might sound like weird news to someone who is a stranger to the country, but we are talking about a nation that prays to improve the exchange rate of the local currency; a country that prays for the reduction of prices for staple food; a country that prays to end electricity load shedding.
Really, some prayers we conduct as a country are very surprising. And we must be blunt here by reminding our political prayer warriors that what they do is a sheer waste of production time because God doesn’t have time for hypocritical prayers.
Yes! There are some prayers that God hates, strange as that may seem, and true Christians know this. In fact, our very prayers can even “become sin”. We are not speaking from without, this is what the Bible says in the book of Proverbs 28 verse 9. It says when one who has deliberately “turned away his ear” from the word of God (preferring his own way to God’s revealed will as found in His Word) attempts to ask God for blessing or direction, his prayer becomes an abomination.
We are told that God hates such sinful prayers, and those who pray them should not be surprised when He does not give them their request. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you that he will not hear.” That is made clear in the book of Isaiah 59 verse 1 and 2.
What is happening in Zambia among our political leaders is a typical example of a regime that has turned its back on the word of God. They pretend to be righteous in order to hoodwink the masses, yet their hearts are filled with hate, greed, vengeance and criminal intent. Such people have no moral right to stand on the podium and preach about Christian values because their prayers are considered a sin. The book of Psalm 109 verse 8 adds: “Let the days of such a person who prays sinful prayers be few and let another person take his office.”
Prayer with a wrong motive cannot be effective. We learn this from James 4:3, which reminds us how often we pray selfishly! If we know of the sin in our lives, prayer cannot be effective, so says the Bible. And we learn this from Psalm 66:18. An unforgiving spirit will hinder prayer. We learn this from Mark 11:25-26. An unwillingness to be reconciled with opponents prevents prayer from being effective. We learn this from Matthew 5:23-24. So, it is of little use to pray, worship, go to meetings or engage in God’s service and to expect His blessing if we are unwilling to first confess our sins and be reconciled with one another.
Mark 12 verse 40 warns that great sorrow and distress is upon you Pharisees and hypocrites! For you oppress the weak and defraud poor widows of their property and then pretend to make long prayers in public: therefore, you shall receive the greatest damnation.
Political prayer warriors must be called for who they are – self serving crooks! In Zambia, prayer makes our leaders think they have some control over a situation that is out of their hands. It is a last resort when they run out of ideas, and the first resort when they don’t even want to think about how they could actually fix the problem at hand.
Our political prayer warriors need to be told bluntly that there is a very real downside to such kind of praying. We cannot solve all our social-economic problems through prayer because prayer lulls these politicians into a false sense of accomplishment. Fighting corruption in government cannot be solved through fasting, but by action. The Church teaches us that prayer is useless without action.
To be more brutally honest, hands that work hard are far better than lips that make long prayers. Some people need to be reminded that when citizens go to the ballot, they look for visionary, problem-solving leaders not prayer warriors.