By Debbie Olujobi
Does every body pray? Sounds like a stupid question and most people will answer “but of course”. Or perhaps the question should be are we expecting our prayers to be answered? I listened to a sage (Dr Christopher Kolade) a while back and he asked a question that was inspirational and faith building. He said “I know you believe in God but do you believe him?” Its a question that calls to the deep and he had me musing for quite a while.
I believe in God, but that’s hardly any work or stretch or faith. Most people believe in God, we have been conditioned to do so by our parents, our experiences and environment but believing God requires a spiritual, emotional and physical transformation. I am prayerfully in the process of transformation, trying to build up a deep reservoir of faith that would help me believe God, believe his integrity, his truth, his divine nature and His unshakeable and unrepentant love. If and when I fully believe God then I would pray, I would believe and finally receive.
Believing God is the greatest act of faith, its stepping off the edge of a cliff without any safe guards. Its a calm acceptance of anything and everything; its the stillness in every storm, peace in war, strength in weakness, no worries, no anxiety, no cares! A situation unfolded that had me awe struck by the greatness and absolute sovereignty of God. We all mouth religious platitudes; God is awesome, God is great, God is powerful but when these traits of God manifest, words are lost.
There are no words to capture the very essence of God. Let me share with you an experience of the miraculous and provoke you to transform into believing God and living in the realm of possibilities. Prison ministry is something I am really passionate about. I like spending time sharing the word with hearts that are genuinely thirsty for living water. I also like giving my time to the rehabilitation and even recreation of prisoners. I recognise that the difference between them and us is just grace.
To quote the greatest sage that ever lived, King Solomon “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Time and chance determine where we end up; some have ended up in palaces, some in the grave, some in prison.
So back to my experience. I am not intimidated by prison. I don’t think that all disciples are called to the limelight or to lead large congregations. Some of us work deep in the trenches showing Christ’s love to those the world despise or even resent. There is no applause or gratification but it’s so very worthwhile. It’s not for every one and some people are genuinely appalled by prison but to each his own. I didn’t expect to get as attached to the inmates as I have become and praying for and with them is an experience.
A few weeks ago I wrote about an inmate who was sentenced to death. I had been in awe of her faith. This lady embodied faith and believed God for her freedom. I prayed about her freedom especially as her case was before the supreme court but I can’t say that my faith was anywhere near hers. Truth be told, her faith encouraged me. I asked every person around me to pray and we had a prayer chain that stretched across the globe.
Vivian, the lady in question had entered prison at 24 and she was now 36. This was a total of 12 years, most of it on death row. In prison she continued her education and was not dismayed by her condemnation; she began her postgraduate (masters’) programme and continued with life like she was preparing for it to begin when she left prison, not if.
Her faith in my view showed what it is to not just believe in God but to believe Him. She left reality of condemnation to live in the realm of possibilities of deliverance and freedom. I daresay many prisoners would have laughed at her position, even friends and family; reality was not looking good. Her belief was justified and come Friday, the 12th of July, 2013, 12 years and 12 days after her incarceration began, she was set free, discharged and acquitted of all charges by the Supreme Court of the land. On the 16th of July, she walked out a free woman, a most emotional sight! I watched her roll on the floor as she began to give thanks to the God of possibilities and we all began to sing. It was an awesome experience.
It is human to try and explain the miraculous with logic but God can’t be explained. This act of release was undoubtedly a miracle. I believe it to be a Nebuchadnezzar type experience and still expect even greater things for Vivian. So back to my question; what do you expect when you pray? Are you praying out of desperation or frustration? Such prayers are forgotten and never backed by faith. Do you think God is a sugar daddy or magician who does instant tricks?
Do you think you can receive without waiting for as long as it takes for God to move? It took Vivian 12 years to get her answer and she stayed rooted in faith, believing God all that while. Knowing her and being just a little part of her journey has been a blessing. It validates my convictions and I believe God more for it. I am choosing to be transformed day after day, to live above reality and live in the realm of possibilities. I dare to pray, to believe God, to accept that with God, nothing shall be impossible.