I share a testimony on how God answered my prayers immediately when I prayed against the rains in Abia, Ogun and Bayelsa States. Some of them requested for prayers and we are doing that. God has answered one of such prayer requests. There is no doubt that He answers when His children pray in faith. He will meet all these people at their various prayer needs.
May we, however, not have the impression that God has answered all my prayers in the manner I expected Him. Fasting when the need arises as well as living a fasting life, are all good and recommended but none is a guarantee that He will answer the prayer in the way we want Him. He is God, my loving Father, Who knows what suits me best.
We had an Easter Camp about 33 years ago at Agege, Lagos, when I was the Area Chairman, Scripture Union, Lagos. I invited Dr. Okey Onuzo, a medical doctor, and a man who loves God passionately, as our guest speaker. I also invited Rev. (now Bishop) Ralph Okafor, as our guest speaker for Easter Party. When I was introducing it, which we were holding on Easter Sundays, it was strange to some people, how a party could be held in SU Camp and at such a solemn time. With time, it gained prominence and became a source of attraction for the Easter retreats.
My rationalization was that, since as Lagosians, we love partying, it would be good to do so during the retreat. We printed special invitation cards for it. I copied the Deeper Life Bible Church in running free camps all my years in leadership and we appealed for free donation for the party during the registration. Brethren, especially ministers of God, who were busy in their various churches during the Easter weekend, were free and delighted to attend. We invited choristers from various churches to minister. The response to our appeal for donation was always beyond our budget, enabling us to eat sumptuously. In appreciation, a sister told me that because of the party, she was sure to eat goat meat at least once in the year. With time, without requesting, people were bringing things to us.
We were holding the ceremony outside the auditorium, for space and beauty. That year, as brethren had gathered in their large numbers, looking good, a band was on the stage doing us good. Trust me, I would encourage everybody to appear in his or her best. Rev. Ralph Okafor, who was the General Secretary of the Scripture Union, Nigeria, known for his excellence in expositions of the Kingdom of God, was at his best that evening. The atmosphere was ripe for dancing but who would do what was a taboo in Christian circles at that time. Nodding of the head was even regarded as carnality! What was acceptable was to stand akimbo like the police. And so we were as the band was leading us to temptation!
Soon, the expected time had come. You could not guess wrongly what was in the offing, even without the programme. Good things are difficult to hide. If you could not see it, you would smell it – the simmering pepper soup, the delicious rice and the delicacies! As we were adjusting, not only our seats but also our mouths for munching, NEPA, though not invited, alerted us of her presence, exhibiting the habit that distinguishes her! In my error, we did not consider it important to rent a generator, even ‘I pass my neighbour’!
With confidence, I left my seat and engaged my brethren in warfare, calling the ‘God, Who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were’. Nothing happened. Recalling that ‘the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds’, we did that. Nothing happened. We had to ‘cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God’. No show. We ‘brought into captivity’, especially darkness and ‘every thought to the obedience of Christ’. Nothing still happened. We did binding and loosening. The story was the same.
We ate in utter darkness. Thank God that nobody complained to me that he or she missed his or her mouth and thus put the food into the nose or eyes. As we were eating, I was still praying silently. I guessed my brethren were doing the same. Throughout that night, NEPA remained NEPA, wearing the same coat until when we left the next day. Chai!
Was God unfair to us? No. It was my fault, for not planning well. Loving God is to accept His sovereignty in all situations, even when His will runs counter to ours. No matter how a toddler vents his anger, the mother still denies him the use of a razor blade. He may not understand, especially when his elderly ones are obliged. Trusting God is to appreciate that He knows what is good for us.
When the toddler becomes an adult, he will then know that it was love that made his mother to deny him the use of the razor blade. Apostle Paul prayed three times and God told him, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee’. May we also not think that God does not answer prayers in Lagos State. As a guest speaker in Youth For Christ International in 1979, during their Holiday Special, in Yaba, Lagos, the rain wanted to mess us up when I was called to the podium to minister, I rebuked it and it left.
God, for sure, answers prayers. But His answer may be at variance from what we prayed for. It can be ‘No’ or He may keep quiet. It is still an answer for our own good, waiting for the appropriate time. The peace we have when His response differs from our expectation is based on Romans 8:28 – ‘All things work together for good to them that love God’. All things, whether I understand them or not. All things, positive and negative, gains and pains, work for our own good.
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