The Art Of Praying Long & Praying Hard: Devotion By Koki Oyuke
In my younger years when growing up, the Olympic games were a fiesta in our home. It’s the only time when my father would skip the news. And why not? More often than not, if a Kenyan was participating in the 10,000 metre race, it was almost always a sure win. And boy do we love to win.
I can’t say the same today though. Our national love and appreciation for our Olympic medalists who helped put Kenya on the map has waxed and waned moving the majority of us to the next best thing – rugby, such a fantastic sport that is our national sports jewel. I wonder sometimes, if this same fire will die down in the coming years and be replaced with the next thing.
This fixation with that which is dazzling has left our Kenyan sports sector deeply fragmented. We’ve been unable to create a culture where we build and improve the burgeoning sports of our time to make it thrive and I can understand why. It’s easy to move on to the next thing than to do the deep work that is needed to grow the sports jewel of our decade. We’ve forgotten how to stay as a nation. We don’t know how to remain or as that famous quote goes, we don’t know how to bloom where we’re planted so we don’t stay rooted to begin with.
I find this to be somewhat true of us as believers. Allow me to explain. Kenya is at a very interesting time in history. The rot and underbelly of our nation has been exposed. People’s hearts have been exposed. In the church, there are blurred lines and different opinions as to what God’s opinion is regarding the state of our nation when yet God isn’t divided within Himself. Guys, we’ve all been hit by the spotlight. We’ve all been exposed.
The idolatry we’ve cultured in our hearts is apparent. In the past years, some of us may have gotten away with preferring, nay, overtly supporting a particular candidate over another because we believed they were the answer this nation needed but God isn’t having any of that anymore. In fact, He was never for it to begin with but He allowed our folly to get us to this time in history.
Why? So we can truly see that our hope lies not in flesh and blood but in Him. We’ve really lost it and what’s worse is that believers have been caught in this muddled mix.
Only God is our certainty regarding this nation. Men pass away. Men have their own interests and change their mind but God is one with Himself, constant and unchanging. Aligning ourselves with Him is the only way this nation will ever get to be all that He has purposed it to be. This remains so even in the coming years when we have better and perhaps God fearing leaders as a nation. Oh that we don’t fall back into old habits and lift up a person more than we do God.
As believers, what I have observed even of myself is that it’s been difficult to know how to pray for the nation with each passing day. This is not necessarily because of the sideshows that happen everyday but mostly because of the time in which our prayers have taken to manifest. You pray and pray and pray and you’re still praying and things seem not to be changing as quick as you hoped. I mean, God never sleeps so He’s seeing and hearing our prayers. Surely, He says that He’s ever watching over us so He’s not sleeping on our prayers. Are His eyes really open to what is going on in our nation? These are the lingering questions we’ve been carrying with each passing day.
We want our prayers to be effective and to work quickly so that things can return to normal but it’s obvious by now: there’s no normal to return to. We’ve been broken a long time as a nation and we can’t pretend for another 5 years that we don’t need healing otherwise we’ll be doomed to repeat.
1. We Need To Pray Long And Pray Hard
During this time that we’ve been living with a few questions about the state of the nation, I believe God is showing us that we need to pray long and pray hard. There’s no other way to access and secure the destiny of this nation.
In the past after 2007, we may have gotten away with deeply praying for the nation two to three months before the elections but the truth is, we are living in the harvest of our brief prayers today and it’s not pretty. I wonder how it would have been if believers all over the nation always mounted a garrison for this nation everyday regardless of whether the elections were close.
To bring it home, just as I mentioned earlier about the need to develop roots in our sports sector, we need to be rooted in prayer for this nation. Playing sports (like running a marathon, 10,000 metre race, playing football or rugby) requires training, discipline and strategy.
For marathoners, because the race is long, they have to run 1 quick mile for every 10 slow miles logged. This is so as to not expend too much energy trying to get ahead that you end up burned out long before the race is over. As believers, we need to adopt a marathon running strategy to pray consistently for the nation, aligning things in the spirit, long before the elections. More than the watchmen watch and wait, we are to watch and pray over this nation. More than we complain and express concern over the state of affairs, we are to pray. The slow miles we log in through the 4 years and the strides we make are to prepare us to pray effectively, with a clear mind and heaven sight when it’s an election year so we are rooted and not tossed about with every wind of opinion.
We truly have power in prayer, so in the moments we sleep on our assignment awaiting someone to sound the alarm (aka election season), the enemy will have been quietly and faithfully logging his miles and visibly advancing his plan.
2. We Need To Pray God’s Promises Over This Nation Until Manifestation
As you can obviously tell this is long and hard work. A lifetime’s work some would say. This reminds me of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:21-38). Both were very old and lived their lives dedicated to God and holding on to the promise of a Messiah.
Is it possible for someone to spend their whole life dreaming with God, holding on to His promises for a lifetime? Well, clearly it is. Simeon and Anna’s hope of seeing the Messiah was fulfilled in their old age. They prayed and waited on God throughout their lifetime. Now that’s praying long and praying hard.
There are promises over this nation that were seized by men of old and some passed on to us. There are promises over this nation many believers are receiving now. Some may take a short time to manifest. Some may take years. Some may take a lifetime. Whatever the case, we need to be willing to journey with God and partner with Him in seeing His promise fulfilled. If Simeon and Anna could do it, then so can you and I.
3. We Need To Bury Seeds Into The Darkness Of Time And Dare To Believe They Will Grow
Farmers know and appreciate the time it takes between planting and harvesting. They plant seeds with the end hope that they will grow. It’s the same with prayer. We have to pray the unseen and what God’s heart is for our lives and for this nation long before it can be visible but believing that it will.
Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.Psalms 139:12 (NASB)
The darkness of time achieves its purpose in God. Before a child is born, they grow and are nurtured in the womb of a woman. There’s a hiddenness in God’s secret workings in the dark. We don’t visibly see what He’s up to but we know, trust and believe that He’s working in the darkness veiling our present season.
In this time, may we cast seeds of hope and prayer, may we water the growing ones yet to come into full maturity. Though we often don’t know how, God’s still working even now in the dark.
4. We Need To Let Our Praise And Worship Shape Our Longings, Frustrations And Disappointments Into Prayers
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.Philippians 4:6 (MSG)
It’s easy to question and it is normal to doubt in the waiting and in the string of time. As we keep on in the marathon of prayer, our longings, questions, frustrations and disappointments may burrow deep into us but how we pray can turn them into craters of prayer, blessing and answers.
Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings. They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion.Psalms 84:5-7 (AMP)
The thing about praying long and praying hard much like seeds and waiting for sprouting and growing is it that the how can shape your longing into belief and victory or it can be where your hope starts to thin.
When we don’t understand how things are playing out in our lives or the nation, we need only choose to love, praise and worship God because He is good to us, ever watching us and never sleeping on us making sure all things work for our good in the end. He’s always up to something and oftentimes, we understand His plans in hindsight. All the same, may we journey through our lifetime partnering with Him to fulfill His plan on earth and in our nation.
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