The Gambia recently came out of a political impasse which saw the exit of the former president of 22 years. This was perhaps the most peaceful resolution in the history of Africa to what might have easily been disastrous times for the whole populace and the sub-region at large. To put it simply, God intervened in the Gambia.
Needless to say, people of various faiths and creeds prayed for divine intervention and for peace to prevail. The unifying message was that we needed a peaceful resolution to the tension and stalemate situation that the country was in at the time. Everyone therefore heaved a heavy sigh of relief when it was all over and a new Gambia emerged triumphant, without the loss of a single life.
In the wake of it all, I have heard some recount how that they stayed ‘faithful’ through it all, and prayed for peace and calm to return to our beloved Gambia. As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore a firm believer in the power of prayers, I acknowledge that many prayed (as I did fervently) and sought the face of God, both in and out of the country for His intervention.
On the 25th of March, in the year of our Lord 2017, all Christians in the Gambia gathered to thank God for the nation. It sounded like a rehearsal for heaven, singing and praying with thousands of saints from different denominations, tribes and nationalities. The resounding theme of the day was “Thank You God for intervening in The Gambia; You deserve all the glory”.
However, in practice, there are many who have subtly denied God of the glory and sought to usurp the praise and credit that is due to Him alone. And I speak to fellow believers in this respect.
I have heard some remark how during the heat of the times they fasted and prayed and believed God for a swift and peaceful resolution. The unspoken spin to this kind of boast, either deliberately or unawares is, “God intervened because I prayed” or to put it bluntly, “we now have peace because I (and others) fasted and prayed”. This may sound like a harmless statement, and an acknowledgement of a fact – after all you and I prayed, didn’t we? But why do your prayers or mine deserve mention? Why the need to remind ourselves or others that we prayed, made declarations or believed? Do we really have anything to boast of for the unprecedented resolution to the impasse that we saw or for the peace that we now have?
When we prayed, did we not ask God to intervene? If we could intervene on our own, would we have had need to pray? And when we gathered to say “thank You Lord”, were we not acknowledging that it was He who did it all? Did any believer pray thus, “Lord I thank you and me, that by our combined powers we brought a solution to the situation”? That sounds preposterous doesn’t it? You wouldn’t dare share the glory with God would you? Yet this is the exact same thing we do when we remind God and others that we prayed, and thus brought peace to the nation. Such boasting is not good. The very fact that we pray, as believers, is an acknowledgement that we are powerless, and He is all powerful. And when we go on our knees to say “thank You Lord”, we similarly are acknowledging that if not for Him, we wouldn’t be where we are. We have nothing to boast of, nor to share in the glory!
God intervened, for His own name sake, and for His glory. He did so by Himself, and without any contribution or help from us, and so He alone deserves all the glory. Yes we prayed, and yes, some of us might have fasted, but it was not our fasting and prayers that did anything, He did it all. Let us therefore be careful to give Him all the glory and not take some to ourselves.
Scripture makes us know that our prayers are means by which we surrender our situation and cares to God, and ask Him to step in (1Peter 5:7). They are merely a means God uses, but not an end in and of themselves. Contrary to the popular notion that our prayers “move the hand of God”, we serve a God who is Sovereign who can even do without our prayers, yet He seeks for men to stand in the gap, to trust Him, because that is a sign that we surrender to His will and want to see His glory manifested in our lives. Our prayers are proof positive of the fact that it is all about the glory of God, rather than a manipulative tool to turn His hand as it were.
Further, Scripture makes us know that it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). The human tongue and mouth are His, He created them (Exodus 4:11). The desire to pray and the burden to intercede, are equally His workings in the hearts of His children; and for what purpose? “For His good pleasure” – not ours! His work, His purpose, for His glory, and for His glory alone! Our Lord taught us in His parable of Luke 17:10, ‘So you also, when you have done everything commanded of you, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'”
So as we look back as Church, over what the Lord has done for the Gambia, and for His intervention in our recent political crises, let us be wary of sabotaging His praise and glory, even in the subtlest of forms. Let us, like David, never cease to say, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1).