Prayer, always a top priority of the Church, is clearly a priority of the Church of Nigeria, which has just undertaken a "Prayer Convocation." The purpose of this Convocation is to deal with "The raging controversy in the Anglican Communion where the devil is making deliberate attempt to diminish the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and to hinder His work; but Anglican faithfuls in Nigeria are gathering to pray and to stand up against such moves that bring the name God to contempt.”... "the prayer convocation is being organized specifically for all concerned Anglicans in the Church to make intensive intercessions in total obedience to the Word of God,for the Nation and the Communion."
Preludium is always interested in the life of prayer, indeed Preludium's scribe has been known to pray with great fervor. But no matter, the Prayer Convocation has raised the stakes considerably.
Under the title: "CHURCH OF NIGERIA WAILS FOR ANGLICAN COMMUNION" the Church of Nigeria website reported that the Prayer Convocation took to heart the need to pray, indeed to wail. The article reports, "Bishop Kwashi speaking in a sermon at the service admonished the intercessors not to relent in their prayers for the Primate and the Leadership of the Church of Nigeria as they champion the opposition to all unbiblical acts in the world and the move into large missionary enterprise in Africa."
"In a burdened and agonizing prayer led by the missionary bishop of Pankshin diocese, the Rt. Revd Olumunyiwa Ajayi, the prayer warriors who knelt with tears flowing, prayed that God will heal the torn-fabrics of the Anglican Communion and restore holiness and righteousness in His Church... The ministers also yearned for God to raise more intercessors who will engage their strength intensely in praying for the Nigerian Church to affect her prophetic and apostolic mandate in Africa and the Anglican Communion globally."
In a few short paragraphs the nature of the wailing becomes apparent:
First there are the prayers supporting "opposition to all unbiblical acts in the world" and presumably for "large missionary enterprise in Africa." One hopes the "unbiblical acts might be about genocidal warfare, disregard of the poor, use of torture, etc. But the suspicion is that this is about gay people and their actions. As to the "missionary enterprise in Africa" recall that Nigeria has missionaries in the Congo and its Primate has been providing leadership in the Global South Primates group, made mostly of African Provinces. Perhaps there is something else they are praying for here.
Second: there was weeping and wailing and (one assumes) gnashing of teeth over the hope that "God will heal the torn-fabrics of the Anglican Communion and restore holiness and righteousness in His Church." So the prayers become more clearly focused on the wounded Anglican Communion.
Third: in case we missed the point, the prayers are poured out "for the Nigerian Church to affect her prophetic and apostolic mandate in Africa and the Anglican Communion globally." Now the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has a divine mandate to do what it is doing, one that needs prayers for its success.
As part of the Prayer Convocation Bishop Orama, noted for the misquotes ascribed to him, gave a presentation that was referenced at length by the Church of Nigeria in an article titled, "Immoral Scandals not for the Church, says Bishop." The summary of his words are worth reading, if for no other reason then that they can be seen to affirm pretty much what the reporter suggested - that the bishop is on a rant against the terrors of homosexuals in the church.
The report reads as follows: "The bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Uyo, the Rt. Revd Isaac Orama has decried the spate of immoral scandals rocking the Church and called on all believers in Christ to work towards restoring holiness and righteousness in the Church of God...Bishop Orama said immorality at highest order in the Church poses ‘a great hindrance for God to make His name great among Nations’." The cleric ...reiterated that God cannot make His name great through an unbeliever but through His Church which according to him ‘occupies an important place of integrity, influence and power that causes inflow of people into it.
"Bishop Orama gave an in-depth background on the theme of the event “My Name shall be Great among the Nations” chosen from the book of Malachi 1:11. He said God had to make this statement when He could no longer find His place of honour among the priests who offered “polluted bread” on the altar and unashamedly indulged in contemptible deeds.
He berated Church leaders who secretly engage in all forms of wicked acts only to come out to deceive and to intimidate their church members by quoting selective scriptures just to cover their sins. He stated that these untoward behaviours in the ordained order should be a great concern to the Church and must not go unchecked."
Bishop Orama might well have been speaking of other "wicked acts," some more locally famous, but in the contest of the whole Prayer Convocation it is hard to believe that he was not in fact at a prayer rally against the sinfulness of those churches that have allowed gay and lesbian persons a place in the leadership of the church. Of course he might have been primarily involved in criticism of his own clergy and their particular "untoward behaviours," but chances are he was contributing to the pious wailing against the sins of others, namely the Episcopal Church, and extolling the prophetic and apostolic virtues of the Church of Nigeria.
Some how I don't feel prayed over, I feel prayed at.
Thanks, but perhaps there is a better way.