Praying for the Government: Introduction

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;   Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. – 1 Timothy 2:1-6

Introduction

In recent days, we have come to witness a number of Christian believers taking leading roles in politics including pastors and other church leaders. This new development in Africa has made many people to question the relationship between the Church and the State and various theories have been advanced as to what is presumably good or bad about church and politics. Some feel that in this age, the Church should influence every sector in the country and having Christians in higher places, will help them influence the world with right policies and principles of good governance that will ensure a nation with great Christian values. However, others are still holding to the idea that the Church should not meddle in political affairs of worldly systems because politics is inherently evil. The Church members do not seem to agree on which view is accurate and hence, some have sought to find a common ground and have thus taught that a Christian’s motive in meddling with politics is what maters only before God.

While it is not my intention to address this topic, I have chosen today to deliberate on some pertinent issues that I have seen arising in our time. Raised in Africa, I am very much aware of the relationship between the African traditional Religions and the government. For example, during the liberation struggles that brought independence from colonial rule, most Africans recounted amazing supernatural deliverance and escape from death through warnings from dreams and spirits. Ancestral spirits are believed to have brought freedom to the continent as spirit mediums gave revelations of enemy’s territories, strategies and escape routes. My father was a liberation war veteran who fought against the British forces in the war that eventually ushered a new era of freedom and independence for Zimbabwe. My mother used to recount stories of how ancestral spirits led him and his team out of danger on several occasions. Our national newspaper almost every Sunday carries stories of the armed struggle and shows the role spirits played towards our freedom which confirms my dad’s experience in the war as a common experience with others. Not only so, they also believe that our country’s leadership was placed there by the spirits and no amount of voting, pen or paper can remove the current government from power because the thing is spiritual. Only the spirits midzimu (ancestral spirits) can do so.

We often hear people say that this country was not won by the prayers of the Christians but by the leadership of the ancestral spirits and some people have castigated the Church as the bringer of bad charm in our country because we have forsaken the way of the elders and gave a deaf ear to the spirits who told the leaders how this country was supposed to be governed. For example, one acclaimed spiritist claimed that the Mbuya Nehanda spirit had told him what should have been done to cleanse the land and to ensure good governance and total independence. The comrade who calls himself homwe ya Nehanda (Nehanda’s medium) claims he receives spiritual revelations from the spirit world through dreams and the national papers took his story in several successive publications in The Sunday Mail newspaper. We have read many such stories and for the Christian, this is something worthy looking at.

However, most believers are quick to dismiss such stores and ignore them. We give a deaf ear and cast a blind eye to the issues that are being raised. We either feel that we have no explanation for these amazing phenomena and quickly dismiss it as the work of evils spirits and demons. We look at the African Traditional Religion and castigate everything labeling it unclean and diabolical. Even one of our own singers dedicated an almost 15 minute song to this castigating the Church for calling ancestral spirits devils and demons and predicted that there will be some serious repercussions of our actions at a future date.[1]

I have listened to many pastors and preachers but very few can stand and address this situation, or at least, the question of how the Church fits into the political atmosphere and landscape of the nation. I have to be the first to admit that some of the accusations levied against the Church are quite noteworthy since the majority of the missionaries who supposedly brought Christianity to Africa were bent on politics than religion and they played a serious role in the colonization of Africa. It is normally said they brought the Bible in the right hand and the gun in the left hand. They exploited the people by misquoting and misapplying the Bible and showed some sought of supremacy and domination over the African races to the extent of calling us black people and everything evil earned the name “black”. As a result of this, when African nations fought for freedom, the churches in America and Europe failed to help or support the Africans who gladly fought and suffered for their right to the God-given land. As a result, most African states were helped by countries who did not recognize Christianity but who looked at religion as a serious evil, a cancer that had to be weeded out of society, a universal malady. Communism and other forms of atheistic thought entered the scene in Africa and the political landscape shifted dramatically. However, this did not eradicate Christianity though in some African states a call was made to ban Christianity, the Church founded on Christ the solid rock did not die, but as history often testifies, the enemies of the Church come, fade and die, but the Church continues to live as the Christ who builds it is alive.  The gates of Hades will not prevail against it!

Moving on to the present situation, we have been reading in the media that the Church is now facing a new enemy in the form of Islamaphobia. The church in Zimbabwe is in a great panic about the Islamic agenda. This happened first when it was announced that the new minister of education is a Moslem and that he was bringing in certain policies in the schools that does not uphold Christian standards but favors African Traditional Religions and Moslems. Pastoral forums, social media platforms and even courts were petitioned against the minister with some organizing marches asking for his relief from office. Heads of Christian denominations met with the minister and tried to get his side of the story and the church’s position. I understand that serious meetings were held and later the pastors began to circulate a better understanding of the new requirements in the educational curricula as well as the controversial National Pledge that was being claimed to be unconstitutional. Some even went on as far as calling it demonic, Islamic and whatever names they felt were befitting.

Then immediately following these events, the political landscape shifted with not only opposition leaders and parties crying for the removal of the president from the State House, pastors and churches joined in. Through the use of social media platforms, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook among others, the #Tajamuka and #Thisflag, etc saw a new horizon of political and civil unrests in the country as these groups chanted anti-government protests, calling people to strikes and mass demonstrations which even led to thefts and vandalism of properties. At the helm of this movement was a pastor who has since found asylum in the United States of America.

These things are happening in our very own eyes and as concerned preachers, what do we have to say to these kind of phenomena. Mostly, many church leaders don’t feel the urge to have their voices heard in the open for fear of being labeled “political” but I feel that it is of paramount importance for the Church to learn from its leaders what God’s will is for them in the face of politics. Most churches don’t teach their people neither do they pray for their governments. I believe this is a serious mistake in that it is not patriotic and neither is it Christian to be silent to social evils and politics when our people are affected. However, we should endeavor to understand our boundaries when it comes to engaging with politics as the Church because the Church is not a political institution but rather, people in the Church are directly or indirectly affected by the decisions their governments takes and policies they implement. It is for this reason that I felt compelled to write and educate my fellow saints on what the Bible has clearly said on praying for our countries and governments.

I understand that many cannot agree with most of my assertions, but I believe that those few that can be helped by this presentation will go a long way in changing the political landscape of their respective countries and governments supernaturally through prayer. In the prayer sessions that I have attended, I have seen that sometimes, people have a passion for doing what is right but a wrong and defective theology can lead them to pray amiss. When the Church prays amiss, God will not hear. But here we are, we stand at the heavenly courts with an invitation to come before the Lord and pry for our countries, peoples and governments because the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to salvation. If we will seriously and earnestly heed the call to prayer, to intercede and supplicate for our governments, we will definitely have peaceful lives but if we ignore the call to prayer, more perilous times will come.

[1] Leonard Karikoga Zhakata sang the song. He is now a pastor with the United Family International Church (UFIC) but he has never recanted his statements but rather claims that he was a believer when he sang that song. Quite ironical!

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