1. Should I Close my Eyes to Pray?
One appeal before you start: read this through to pray. I wish the epistle were shorter. You could miss the meat in this message if you merely taste the starter-lines and rise to run. I do not know how soon before it comes, but be yourself the judge of the ‘bottom-pot’ calls to prayers. It is your constitutional right – nay, your scriptural right, to judge the prophets (if you are one) and/or the spirits (1 Corinthians 14:29; 1 John 4:1). Check in which line your treasure lies.
When from the altar of agony in Gethsemane Jesus called upon the Church to “watch and pray” (Mark 13:33),He was suggesting that there are some prayers that cannot be prayed by those who do not watch, and that watching is crucial to some prayers; He was suggesting that watching, which involves the use of the physical eyes, which means having one’s eyes open to see as well as using the intellect to judge what one sees, is importantly connected to praying some prayers, especially decisive territorial and destiny-securing Gethsemane-type prayers.
If what is see-able with the physical eyes is not important to the spiritual activity of prayers, if all we need to do is close our eyes and ears to pray, then the call to “watch and pray” will have been unnecessary; but we know that our God does not waste words. Occasions there were in the Bible when the call was simply to pray, but from the prayer garden of Gethsemane in that critical night before the cross when the Master had to win a crucial battle over darkness (Luke 22:53), the call was to much more than praying. The call in that night from that Intercessor per excellence, to whom the disciples were compelled to apply for practical lessons in the school of prayer (Luke 11:1), was not merely to pray, it was to watch and pray. That was one of His last lectures on intercession from the practical prayer laboratory of Gethsemane, and last words are not usually light words.
Has anyone ever wondered why the prophetic intercessor is called a watcher (Daniel 4:13) or a watchman on the tower (Isaiah 21:11-12; Ezekiel 3:17; 33:2-7)? He is not called a visionary, who must be moved by a vision or voice from the skies or a trance, before he might pray. Even though he be a seer, he is called a watcher (Isaiah 21:6).With due respect to the irreducible importance of discernment, if we didn’t need our physical eyes and ears during spiritual activities, if we needed only the ears of the spirit as we entered His presence, God should have been blocking those faculties out each time the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies.
The divine voice that Samuel heard was not in his spiritual ear; it was in his physical ears (1 Samuel 3:4-11). That it sounded like the voice of Eli did not mean that it was not the voice of God. How else will some developing ears hear and run to God unless He speaks to them in the voice of the men they hear? Those who must pray with their eyes and ears shut, who think that it is unspiritual to be guided into prayers except solely by revelations from above rather than also by revelations from below probably do not have Nehemiah in their Bible (Nehemiah 1:2-4).
God does not only speak through the supernatural voice, He also speaks through the natural voice. Ask little Samuel (1 Samuel 3:4-11). Those who look out only for the spectacular, or who often mistake the spectacular for the supernatural, sometimes miss the supernatural, because something could be supernatural without being spectacular. Saul’s encounter on the highway to Damascus was spectacular and supernatural (Acts 9:1-20; 10:1-8); on the contrary, the events that led Nehemiah into his destiny as Governor of Judah were not so spectacular but no less divine.The routine domestic errands that positioned little David before the mighty Goliath who shot him into destiny limelight were far from spectacular yet very divine. There were no fires falling from the sky or heralding earthquakes crumbling mountains, but God was there. I dare quickly add to balance the equation, however, that every mighty rushing wind does not mean Pentecost, and every noise is not anointing (1 Kings 19:11-13; 1 Samuel 4:5-6; Acts 2:1-4). That it is spectacular might not always mean that it is divine; that it is supernatural does not mean that it is God. Remember King Saul at the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7-20; Chronicles 10:13).
Thinking again of Jesus’ call, I see a problem: the Gethsemane prayers were at night; the call to “watch and pray” had come to the disciples in that cold night of convergent darknesses– physical and spiritual darknesses (Luke 22:53). How does one watch in darkness, and so after a very tiring day when the eyes themselves are conspired against wakefulness? How does one watch in darkness so thick physically and spiritually? Maybe watching is usually more imperative when watching seems most difficult and unthinkable (Matthew 26:41).
2. Prayer Points
In concluding a recent post, “Sudden Destruction,” I promised to follow up with another post conveying prayer points. Here it comes, with voices both spectacular and natural, necessitated also by such responses as were received to the subsequent post, “The Sword of the Lord.” A pastor, for example, wrote back to say very touchingly, “Sir, send us guidelines to pray! No, I will not laugh at this!” And another, “We need to continue to cry to our God for mercy. The signals and events around us are not palatable. I believe that if the Lord finds some faithful ones, He will show mercy.” I agree.
I got two concerned telephone calls today. The first was from one of the simple women who watch with us at our weekly payers for Nigeria and beyond. She was alone in her kitchen early in the morning two days ago when she heard a voice behind her. Her husband had gone to his job and her kids were in bed. It was as if the speaker had been standing at the door leading from the kitchen to the dinning. She turned to see, but there was nobody. As she wondered what the message might mean, it re-echoed to her, offering a little more clarification. She left the kitchen with her food to pray in her room, asking God for the meaning of the voice that she had heard. The voice came a third time, repeating the same words. She hurried off to her classes at the Bible school. During the break, she went up anxiously to one of the pastor-instructors to narrate her experience. His response was, “Ah, so you have not heard?” What hadn’t she heard?
What did she hear in her kitchen? A male voice, which sounded somewhat like her husband’s and like her pastor’s, said, “Another strategy: bringing a senior military officer to stand in while he goes on leave.” She did not understand. A while later, the voice repeated, “Bringing a senior military office to stand in while he goes on leave: another Islamic strategy.” She still did not understand. Their community had been without electricity for days and she had been out of touch with the news, which compounded her anxiety. The interpretation came to her from her pastor at the Bible school who wondered if she had not heard the widespread rumours, and thought also that her unawareness of the rumour was a significant stress on the message.
Pharaoh had a dream that had to be doubled for a reason (Genesis 41:32); she heard a voice that was tripled; for what reason (Ecclesiastes 4:12)?
It is being rumoured sufficiently in Nigeria (online and offline, with discussions on the public platform of some radio stations), although without official denial or confirmation yet, that the newly declared president of Nigeria has indicated intention to go on a three-month leave (some say, six) barely six months after assuming office, and that (on grounds likely explainable in terms of the “war against” Boko Haram) he would be handing over to the Chief of Army Staff, which position is at the moment occupied by Lt.-Gen. Yusuf Buratai whose father, Alhaji Yusuf Buratai, also used to be a soldier. Somebody wonders, Could one have truly been preparing so many years in previous consecutive failed episodes for the Olympic marathon yet run out of steam even before the start of the race? Or had they rather been rehearsing for a countergame, and the call to the track had taken them by surprise? Some have confronted us with what they call evidence.
The rumour seems at once and commonsensically dismissible in the context of the present democracy and a national Constitution which clearly specifies that, in such an event, the onus is on the Vice President to step in. However, should it be true now or in some future in ways not now known, will there have been found loopholes in the constitution exploitable by those who have been studying it for the purpose? (Refer to the post: “Sudden Destruction.”) Some worry that there have already been clever but audacious rapes of the constitution indicating a tendency for worse.
Again, should the ‘rumour’ be substantive and the mystery kitchen-voice be divine; should it truly be “another strategy” of the Islamization agenda, then we still might be contending with the Spirit of Sudan intent on the balkanization and Islamization of Nigeria. Let us assume that the Spirit of Sudan pushes a man to attempt such an audacious option; a state of such affairs would provoke civil protests which will be gladly exploited by those who have been seeking to foment the opportunity of such a scenario as cover for their agenda; then the bombs long waiting at strategic locations would begin to go off across the country in the ‘name’ of the civil protest, warranting a wide-scope state of emergency providing grounds for a military ‘intervention’ further justifying the military status quo red-carpeting the ultimate agenda. Then there will be no more Constitution, for a soldier is not guided by a constitution. It will have been called a compassionate coup, ‘popularly’ welcomed by all that are still in expectation for change… a different change…
The second caller today was a respectable senior bank officer whose dreamer-wife had had a worrisome dream, adding to his own lingering burdens for the nation. He wondered what it could mean, but he ventured an interpretation. In her dream, she had seen two black horses that fell from the sky and began galloping through the streets of Nigeria, causing pandemonium among the scampering population. He wondered if it meant judgment. I agreed, but whose judgment? That’s a sermon for another day.
God does not warn so as to leave without alternative; God does not warn merely to turn around and destroy. Remember Jonah versus Nineveh. He warns so as to bring about repentance so as to avert imminent judgment. The enemy has a game plan, but God also has an Esther waiting to manifest against Haman securely night-patrolling the corridors of Ahasuerus (Esther 4-6).
This is already a longer than convenient epistle, so I shall presently pause and leave the rest for another day, but not before I have said again to Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta States of Nigeria: the enemy is intent on inciting provocations that should result in widespread bloody crises that should warrant the declaration of a state of emergency that should open the door for ‘stepping in’(in Rivers State) with an alternative ruler that within the opportunity of time should advance The Agenda still awaiting The Command.
Against sentimental opinions, I dare warn, too, that Biafra is merely the other side of the Boko Haram coin as far as the agenda against Nigeria is concerned. At a recent prayer meeting, I have also raised the need to pray for Pastor VP. I see 2 years and 6 months – to minus the pastor through an ‘accident’ that should clear the coast for another choice, the de facto VP, the younger in Kaduna that is being groomed for the place that the older has promised to vacate after a single season.
My sister recently taught me a prayer: “Herodias had a quarrel against” John the Baptist “and would have killed him; but she could not” (Mark 6:19), so she awaited “a convenient day,” which came in the form of Herod’s birthday (Mark 6:21). On that“convenient day,”John the Baptist lost his anointed head. May they wait in vain that seek “a convenient day” to waste your life or destroy the nation. Like Haman’s Day that became Esther’s Day, may that date rather turn against them that wait for it (Esther 8:10-12; 3:13; 9:1). Amen.
See you at the next post.
From The Preacher’s diary,
November 23, 2015.