11/13/2007

Nigeria Prays: Wailing Now, Weeping to Follow.

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.

14 comments:

  1. Some how I don't feel prayed over, I feel prayed at.

    This post is the most curious of them all! Either you really have a strange theology of prayer or fearful of others being correct or something.

    I don't care if you want to pray for me, I'd welcome it. I know your prayers are not a magical incantation but a request to truly just God, so whatever you ask that which is not true or in line with His will is not going to happen. In fact it could be used to pour out blessing as in Numbers 22.

    I've had co-workers make requests about me to my boss, even though his sins are many, he's a just man, generally nothing happened -- except my coworker was silly enough to share she must have tried to back-stab me. She told me a compliment my boss gave - one of his shortcoming is compliments are rare unless in defense of someone. No, this did not effect our relationship much, I could laugh it off because of my surety. She eventually left when she discovered she could not manipulate any of her circumstances.

    An odd post and I wonder why you seemed affected by it, hey they're praying for America. So I do find it reveals more about Rev. Mark Harris than about Nigeria, what I'm not sure, but this a curious post.

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  2. If they SO believe that gay people are bringing all of this mayhem to the Church, then they shouldn't be so coward and call themselves for what they are: homophobic.

    That way, even Rowan will fall from bed and realize that it is not so much his bum what hurts but the aching bodies and minds of prosecuted, taunted, tortured and murdered gay people.

    I don't expect smarts from people like Orama. Nor did I use to expect cowardice. Well,now I do.

    Leonel

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  3. Funny thing, God has a way of giving people EXACTLY what they pray for... even if they start protesting "I didn't mean it LIKE THAT! I didn't mean *ME*! I meant those sinners over there!"

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  4. Funny, God has a way of giving people exactly what they prayed for, even if they start protesting, "I didn't mean it LIKE THAT! I didn't mean *ME*! I meant those sinners over there!"

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  5. Let us pray that our Lord hears these prayers and that /God's/ will be done.

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  6. Ok, let me get this straight. They can say they're being prophetic when they try to force us into their form of Anglicanism and advocate jailing of gays and lesbians and their allies, but when we say we're being prophetic when we try to clean our own house of injustice, we're decried as arrogant Americans willfully disobeying God's commands and essentially spitting in His face. Riiiight.

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  7. In the Nigerian context, while there are plenty of local scandals to bewail, it's all about homosexuality. That's what Akinola and his bishops, including Orama, have staked their claim on, and there's no going back.

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  8. The words "I will pray for you" can be a kind, loving response to a painful part of a person's life, or an insult. When my fundamentalist brother-in-law says them he means that he will pray that God will show me that the entire Episcopal experience back to Cranmer is not the true faith. When our rector says them, he means something a lot nicer.

    I am also struck by the language of violence in the report. These are prayer "warriors" who wont "relent." Not the language of loving concern!

    I wonder rather what God thinks when those petitions come to him. I am reminded of Jesus's comment "You say you believe in one God. You do well. The demons do also, and tremble." Might we consider, "You say you believe in prayer. You do well....."

    FWIW
    jimB

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  9. No, Kevin (at top). These prayers will fall on deaf divine ears for two reasons: 1) they are inherently dishonest and self-righteous, and 2) what they are praying for is an utter farce. Kevin M summarized it pretty well. If anything, maybe those prayers will be reflected back by a divine mirror and at least some of them convicted by the Holy Spirit that they need to repent of their arrogance and hardness of heart, and return to the Lord.

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  10. Well, Marc, so basically you disagreed with me to make the whole point of my anecdote about my boss. You're acting very strange!

    To your second point -- how do you think that happens?????

    In my life I've found prayer changes the one praying more than it does the one prayed over, I've had cause to pray for my enemies and noted that it's hard to remain bitter when praying for someone.

    As I said, it this reveals more about folks' theology of prayer than it does about the fact the Nigerians are praying. It's an interesting mirror to see people's conception of prayer.

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  11. Kevin...the Prayer Convocation will have its moments of prayer and they can pray about anything they choose, obviously. And praying for the Episcopal Church, America, or whatever strikes them as useful is fine.

    The article, however, is not about such prayer. It is about prayer as propaganda. It is announcing to the world their righteousness and our unrighteousness.

    Perhaps this is a time when the recommendation that one pray in private is in order. That way it is not about self righteousness but about prayer. Jesus had something to say on the subject.

    When you pray in private for me, a sinner, and let me know that you are praying for me, fine.

    When you pray about me a sinner in public and let the world know, not so good. It is then time to make sure I am protected against the mob to come, zeal in their hearts and stones in their hands.

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  12. Mark,

    Their Church demonstrates voracity, devotion, and recognition that evil assails us.
    In YOUR picture you appear to be studious and yet somewhat at distance, even comfortable in your surroundings. THEIR picture shows involvement and perserverance.

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  13. allen...what? I should send you pictures of my preaching? Maybe it would be better if my picture on the blog was of me standing in the line against this miserable war. Nahh....nothing will help your already formed opinion of me. Oh well.

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  14. Mark,

    It's safe to comment as you do. You oppose the war while relying on the protection of others to secure your lifestyle. You lament the ill-informed prayer life of Nigeria, yet at best revisionist prayers want to convince others to join their viewpoint (and blame it on the Spirit or Kingdom in the process). How is your motivation different than that which you accuse Nigerians of?
    In one way: they confirm the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by testing their motives and petitions against the WIDER World Church's prophetic revelation. You narrowly focus your test to those who have your own views.

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