Okay, I have a confession to make. I live in Nigeria. Most Nigerians are very religious. I am not religious.
But that’s not my confession.
Most times, people I know and sometimes, those I don’t know often invite me to pray with them. But I always feel the urge to decline whenever this happens.
Well, thing is, I don’t pray that much. I don’t often pray as much as you would have imagined or wished or loved to see me do. To tell you the truth, it’s been a very very long long time since I last prayed.
Wait, that’s a lie. Actually, I do pray all the time and I always have the courtesy to join anyone who invites me to pray with them but the truth is just that sometimes, I might as well be going through the motions and pretending I am praying (with you) whereas my mind is onto something else—and you wouldn’t even know this.
That’s my confession.
But before you run off with the wrong impression, please take a moment and listen to me.
It’s not like I don’t like to pray. It’s not like I don’t believe in prayers either. It’s just that there are certain types of prayers you won’t find me saying with you because they always turn me off.
I call them bad prayers. I’m still looking for a better term to describe such types of prayers but I guess by the time I’m through with my illustrations, you’d get the idea of what I’m actually trying to imply.
Unfortunately for me, some of these bad prayers are now the norm. It’s now everywhere! It’s now the mainstream. You even hear them in our popular songs these days. And worse still, some people expect you to join is saying them or be damned.
If I could, I would put a stop to such types of prayers but I guess I couldn’t so naturally, I do the easiest part that is still within my powers, which is to simply absent myself from participating in such prayers or even better still, say my prayers all alone.
So without wasting any much of your time, let me now describe for you some of those types of prayers I consider bad prayers.
Thanksgiving prayers at another person’s expense
For example, it’s the New Year and everyone is happy and joyous because they survived another day.
Okay. Sorry, I goofed. My bad.
Agreed, it’s not just another day. It a New Year! And it’s going to offer lots and lots of people a new beginning and a new chance to right their wrongs, and so on…
But it doesn’t go down well with me when I hear people saying or thanking God for keeping them alive to ‘see’ another new year and then they go further by mentioning that so many people started the year with them but so many of them were not able to make it to the new year.
And I’m like: and so what? So that’s an achievement now, huh? Come to think of it, okay now you tell me, what makes you so special to have achieved that feat, if I should call it that? I mean, what’s the point in rejoicing over another person’s misfortune?
Alright, I know you are not actually gloating over another person’s misfortune because you would never see it that way or do something horibble like that but rather you are just expressing your gratitude to God but by making such statements of comparison, sorry, but I also think you are just saying a bad prayer.
Don’t believe me? Okay, just think about it now…
Have you ever really considered it? Now, you tell me, what makes you think you are different from that ‘righteous’ Pharisee in the Bible who was saying a bad prayer by thanking God that he’s not like this disgusting sinner of a tax collector?
For me, if you want (me to join you) to thank God for blessing you immensely, for protecting or saving you from a bad experience or something, just thank Him for blessing saving or protecting you—without having to mention or implying you were chosen because you are better or more righteous than the others who didn’t make it—or weren’t so favored.
It’s as simple as that.
You wouldn’t know it but it guts me, really, when I hear such bad prayers.
Wish or Calling for your enemies’ downfall
What exactly are you trying to say? I mean, what's wrong in wishing that all our enemies suffer or die? To me, the way I see it, this is not necessarily a bad practice, is it? Oh yes, they should die! Right now! All of them that do not want to see my progress in the future!
Truly, I don’t see anything bad in that, or do you? It is what it is. So why would someone in his right senses have a problem with this type prayer?
Well, that’s you and I perfectly understand where you are coming from if you are reasoning like that but I still maintain it’s a bad prayer.
Well, you see, the reason might not be far-fetched. In my own little understanding, this type of prayer is a bad prayer because it connotes a complete disconnect with what most true religious practices teach or stand for.
Using Christianity for example, I know that Christ advocates his followers to ‘turn the other cheek’, to ‘show love to one another’, to ‘never judge so that you won’t be judged’, and most importantly to ‘forgive them for they know not what they are doing’
So why is your own case now different? What is it with all these calling down of ‘Holy Ghost fire’ to come down and consume your so-called enemies? What’s up with all these endless chants of ‘Back to Sender”?
Please take a chill pill, okay?
Why is it so easy for us to see our enemies as outside there? Have you ever considered the fact that the greatest enemies we might have is actually ourselves?
Get me right, I’m not in any way trying to denounce the fact that you might not have real external enemies plotting your downfall out there. And likewise, I’m not also denying the fact or saying that these enemies might not actually be trying to use voodoo or witchcraft against you to shoot you down!
It’s a fact of life that no matter what you do or say, try as much as you like, it’s not everybody that is going to like you. Some people just hate your guts. They don’t want to see you smile. Some people will not just like to see you progress in life. They’d rather glorify or revel in your stagnation. Some people, even friends at times, might just wish that you remain where you are without changing for the better and they may even covertly or overtly resent you for aspiring for such.
Yes, these people may be considered as your enemies but what can you do about that?
You can only act upon yourself. You can’t change their opinions. In other words, you can only be the best you can be because if only you realize it, no man can stop you from attaining your own height of success.
Yes, take it or leave it, the only person standing between you and your success is you!
In other words, your so-called enemies are completely powerless in your affairs but the truth is that you can change all that and make them become so powerful and thus gain a lot of control and power (over you) when you actually grant them that recognition—most especially, with that type of bad prayer.
So you better watch it—with all that paranoia because, most times, that’s usually what it is—because you might as well be unknowingly opening yourself to so many forms of financial, spiritual and sometimes, even sexual manipulation and exploitation from so many gurus, cold readers, fake prophets and charlatans who might present themselves as a solution to your often imagined insurmountable problems.
On a flip side, praying for your enemies’ downfall may be counterproductive, if it happens that you are actually your own enemy!
So bear it in mind when next you are praying for your enemies’ death or wishing for them to come to harm.
Because that Holy Ghost fire might just come down as you have fervently prayed and then burn you down to ashes!
Ha ha ha… you know it’s very possible!
Praying for miracles—all the time
Again, there’s nothing wrong in praying for miracles because that’s what everybody wants, right?
I have observed some disheartening trend with some people who say or believe in this type of prayer and they are the ones I want to address.
They simply believe that their saying this type of prayer is all that there is in helping them towards achieving their goals in life.
They erroneously fail to understand that success is actually one part prayers (i.e. wishes or dreaming or planning) and one part action.
Oh yes. Even the Bible stated that faith without work is dead.
Actually, praying for miracles like asking God to shower his endless blessing in your prayers all the time is good because it is written, ask and you shall receive.
So no problems ‘cause you are on the right track but please while you are there, can you just remember to also ask God to give you the means to carry out your lofty goals…?
And when you eventually receive such inspiration you’ve asked for, can you just get ready to sit down and work on your plan rather than solely hoping that you shall receive all the blessings in this world and all the solutions to your earthly problems once you ask and keep on asking without doing as much as lifting a finger to tackle your own problems?
That’s complete hopelessness and totally delusional if you ask me. So please, if you are part of those I am addressing here, please kindly stop perpetuating this distorted mentality with your bad prayers.
I always have a problem with this type of prayer. Sadly, I have noticed this to be a growing and stylish trend most especially among our Pentescostal faithful.
I cringe whenever people refer to God as God of …
A neighbor who was telling me about a great miracle that God did for some member of her church unknowingly made the mistake of referring to this same God as ‘God of Winners’!
I didn’t give her any second chance to continue with her recount. I simply excused myself and took my leave.
A similar thing has happened in so many different situations to me and it seems I just can’t sit well with this idea that some people have appropriated God upon and unto themselves and themselves alone.
I know I’m not in the position to judge them but it always hits me as glaringly shambolic that these same people have failed to understand that they are unanimously reigniting that divisive, segregative, as well as corrosive aspect of religion with such simple and ‘harmless’ statements which they often use in their prayers too.
My point is that if you are in the habit of appropriating God in your prayers, fine, I’m okay with it, but please don’t invite me because I’m not okay with it so please don’t ever go ‘God of Winners’ or ‘God of Chosen’ or God of anything, as a matter of fact, when I am praying with you.
Speaking in tongues in general
Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing. Maybe it’s not but the truth is that I try as much as possible to stay away from all types of prayers where someone might just start speaking in tongues.
I have my reasons for this but of late, top on my list is that I don’t want to suddenly burst into laughter as a result of your comical theatricals when others are seriously engaged in fervor meditation.
That’s being immature, right?
Again, I don’t want you to see me reaching for my cellphone in search of something more interesting to read while you are communing with God in a strange cryptic tongue.
Of course, I don’t want you to see me as an unbeliever.
But since I just can’t help it, methinks it’s always better I just stay away from such type of prayers.
Don’t blame me. You see, I hate noise so much as I wouldn’t like to do anything that will make me to call you a noise maker whereas you were only in the spirit and wholly communing with God with your newly found speech abilities.
I know that you might have been brought up with the mentality that words speaks louder than actions.
But I’m not. It’s the other way round for me. So please take note.
And the last but not the least of them all…
Extremely long prayers
O yes. Please if you want me to join you in your prayers, can you kindly keep it simple and straightforward and short?
Okay, that’s good. Thanks for your understanding.
It's not my fault. I get so bored easily and effortlessly and repeating the same mantra over and over is a sure way to send me to look for something else more interesting to distract myself with.
I won’t forget in haste the day one man in a bus I was travelling in sang praises and prayed continuously for more than one hour! I couldn’t do anything to stop him—or them, because clearly I was outnumbered.
I just endured the torture in silence but it was an unforgettable experience.
Which is why I have decided never to embark on any long journey again in my life without my headphones just to tell you how serious it is!
So there you have it. Now, I have told you what constitutes a bad prayer in my own opinion.
So what about you?
Are there any type of prayers that you don’t just like to hear or participate in?