The Kenyan General Election is around the corner, just 42 days away, and I am curious, when did you last pray for your country? If you did, what did you say in that prayer? Did you pray for any specific political leader? What did you say to God about President Uhuru Kenyatta? Did you pray for him to win? To lose? Did you pray for him to act on the rampant corruption in Kenya and were you specific about what he ought to do?
What about opposition leader Raila Odinga? Did you pray for his victory in the coming election or did you pray for his defeat? If you live in Nairobi, what did you tell God about Senator Mike Sonko? What about Governor Kidero? Did you pray against them or for them?
Prayer can be a touchy subject in the public square, especially where politics is concerned. An increasing number of people believe that Kenya does not need our prayers but our actions. Many Christians have been accused of being “too heavenly minded that they are of no earthly use.” When a Christian suggests prayer as one of the solutions to the problems facing our country, he or she is more often dismissed or ridiculed into submission.
Kenya is steadily becoming a secularised nation. Religion is becoming more and more unpopular among the intellectual and economic elites of this nation. Even when political leaders crowd churches with their entourage every Sunday, the act is received with great skepticism (and rightly so, more often than not).
We all know that they are showing up to church for “pragmatic” reasons, right? They are not really that spiritual or religious, right? Because how then do we explain the surge of politicians in churches in the weeks and leads leading up to the election only to be followed by their disappearance from churches to focus on “building the nation”?
It is therefore not surprising that many Kenyans think it both foolish and futile to pray for the nation today. Even some of the Kenyans who are believers in Jesus Christ and who pray regularly seldom pray for Kenya. They feel the country is “too far gone” for God to do anything about it. A growing sense of apathy has gradually scraped away politics from their prayer lists.
Christians have received too much bashing after their insistence on prayer that they have retreated to their caves. Some have been told that Kenya needs practical solutions and not impractical prayers. Many have therefore abandoned prayer rallies and joined lobby groups and other political activist causes in the name of being “more practical citizens.” Others became disillusioned by unanswered prayer that they resorted to prayer-less action rather than the cognitive dissonance of believing in a prayer-answering God who doesn’t actually answer any prayers.
It is easy to understand why anyone would quit bothering to pray for Kenya. It seems too foolish, too out of touch with reality, too impractical. And so, many have reasonably and rationally stopped praying for this country. Yet here I am, urging us to get back down on our knees and plead with God for the reformation of this country.
Here I am calling on all Christians to lift our leaders up to God in prayer, to pray for their decisions, their actions, an most fundamentally, their hearts. I am calling on all faithful Christ followers to pray for Kenyan leaders to do what is good for the citizens, to put country before self and, if it pleases the Lord, to save their souls.
I do not believe that the only way God can get Kenya out of the depths of corruption and hatred into shallower waters of the same is through the salvation of its leaders. Our leaders don’t ned to become Christ-followers for Kenya to get better than it is today. The God I serve has been known to cause great public choices even in those who curse his name in private. I pray for the former, even while I pray against the latter.
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7
Looking at my country through the secular, modernistic, liberal lens that is in the telescope of many Kenyans today, praying for Kenya is indeed a foolish action. It seems counterintuitive. It defies all the apparent laws of logic and reason that rule the day. To steal from the words of Apostle Paul, praying for Kenya and its leaders is “foolishness to the Gentiles.” They don’t get it (and can’t get it), and that is why they will always ridicule and dismiss it.
But we, who are called by the name of Jesus Christ, know better. Or to be politically correct, we know different. We know that prayer is not the sole call of a Christian, but the fuel behind all of the practical callings of a Christian. Prayer is not an alternative to action, but the path to actions that are both faithful to the truth of God’s word and the reality of God’s world. Prayer is not a call to inaction but a call to right action, or rather, a call to actions that are not guided by the myopic needs of the flesh but the ultimate glory of God.
So yes, prayer is indeed foolish to those who do not know God. When the Bible says “the fool says in his heart there is no God,” those words sting the hearts of atheists. Those words are offensive to them because they think themselves very wise and their knowledge quite superior in a world without God. In the same way, Christians will feel offended when called “foolish” for believing in God, but we shouldn’t, because we know
Christians should not be surprised when those who revile religion speak against prayer. Christians will always be misunderstood by non-Christians. The Bible has already said this. The nature and purpose and power of prayer will always be misrepresented by non-Christians. As Jude once said,
“These people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct–as irrational animals do–will destroy them.” Jude 10
So take heart, dear Christian, for your Father in Heaven saw this coming. Take to your knees, dear Christian, for only your Father in Heaven knows where your nation is headed. Don’t let the devil take away the only weapon guaranteed to bring real and lasting change to this country and, yes, this world.