Karl Marx described religion as the opium of the masses, an illusion of happiness, the soul of a soulless nation and the heart of a heartless people. Perhaps, nothing lends more credibility to this statement than when Africans disobey the Biblical injunction to “Watch and Pray,” (Matthew 26:41) and instead pray and pray, or pray and complain, or just complain.
A watchman is “a person who watches over and protects property, assets, or people.” A watchman is alert, informed, active, strong, able and willing. As Christians in Africa, the “leave everything in the hands of God” mindset ought to be replaced with a careful knowing of what God demands of His children. Before the African Christian prays, she must be careful to watch first in order to know what to pray for, and how to pray. Prayer is an unparalleled spiritual exercise through which the Christian draws strength and guidance from God to be the best of who and what he can ever be. The African Christian is at an advantage because she still recognizes the existence of the spiritual realm, and have not rationalized it away. God is for Africa, and Africans Christian should realize that and leverage his belief in the Most High to his advantage.
Through prayers, Africans must draw strength from God; to forgive other ethnicities that might have wronged their own ethnic groups, to say no to bribery and corruption, to queue up at service centers and create an orderly society, to tap into the Wise One’s store of knowledge to develop indigenous systems and processes that will surpass Western imported models. While the African Christian is praying to God, the Holy One is more or less, calling on the African Christian to arise and build, to stand and think and act based on His Word.
God is love. If the African believer loves God and prays to Him, then he should be like what he prays to. God is a Being of action. In James 1: 22-25 the Bible says that we should be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving” ourselves. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” God is a creator, He created the world and everything in it, and He keeps sustaining it through His mighty works. If the African Christian is made in God’s image and likeness as the Bible says in Genesis, then she too should be a creator.
Creativity and innovation are part of the responsibilities of a watchman; Scripture says to watch first before praying. When the African Christian is concerned, committed and invested enough in a societal challenge, she then goes to God in prayers searching for ways to address such an issue. Through prayers, God’s ways of solving societal challenges will be revealed to her through the Word of God.
The Bible says that when the “righteous prosper, the city rejoices,” in essence, people’s problems are solved when a person of righteousness is in a position of influence. That is because God’s ways of solving problems are ways of “righteousness, peace and joy” not ways of anger, retaliation, enmity, pride or fraud. Therefore, when the righteous is in power the city rejoices because he is a watchman, who uses divine wisdom to strategically implement solutions. Concerning Solomon who was not even under the New Covenant, the Bible says in 1Kings: 4: 29, that God gave him such great “wisdom and great discernment. His insights were as numerous as the sand on the seashore.” Such that he was able to among so many others, write 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He “described trees—everything from cedars[a] that grow in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows on a garden wall. He described animals, birds, reptiles, and fish. 34 People came from everywhere to hear Solomon’s advice. Every king on the earth heard of his wisdom” (33). He was such an creative and innovative leader that when the Queen of Sheba visited, and” saw all the wisdom of Solomon, the palace he had built, the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the service and attire of his attendants and cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he presented at the house of the LORD, it took her breath away…” (I Kings 10:4-5)
Prayers should spur the African Christian into positive action. As true as prayer sessions and spiritual exercise for communities ought to be a constant thing in the life of Africans, so also should strategy sessions and intellectual exercises. When it is time to think, to act, to stand up and say no or yes, then the African should do so. The soldier prays before going to war, he is not on his knees while surrounded by enemies; he draws his sword and fights for his life. Africans are highly spiritual and that should translate to a life of civility, creativity, innovation and discipline.
Trust in God by Africans ought to negate fear of man, and the fear of Europe and America that leads to the present state of dependency on that part of the world. Trust in God means a belief to be fruitful and multiply, to think of ways to be peace-loving, united, reliable, gentle, incorruptible, to create wealth from the environment in which God has placed us. God will use watchful and prayerful Africans who are disciplined, diligent, and innovative in every area of life in order to built just, equitable, peaceful, happy and thriving communities across the continent.