If you are looking for divine inspiration, then this article is not meant for you.
I am not qualified to preach but I may change my mind when the urge to buy a private jet overwhelms me.
I will rely on your M-Pesa (north of a thousand bucks, of course!) in the name of the Lord, at my phantom ‘Church of the Forever Riches’. I hope you will grant me the ‘miracle’ villas and SUVs.
Now back to earth. The president made a proclamation for prayer recently following the outbreak of Covid-19 and asked Kenyans to dedicate Saturday, March 21, as the ‘National Day of Prayer’. The first country to seek divine intervention on coronavirus.
Unlike previous times, when the ruling class prayed at the precincts of five-star hotels, this time round we were asked to pray wherever we were.
Great advice to complement the war on Covid-19. Prayers in Kenya have always intrigued me. You ask?
If we are so prayerful, and indeed we are, we should not have thieves in government. There is not a government session that starts without prayers.
I have been to many a meeting in government offices and, on cue, we would all close our eyes as the most ‘righteous’ one led the prayers.
Lest you didn’t know, I never closed my eyes. I behave like a naughty child and keep them open with one on my bag.
I have been pickpocketed in very interesting and unexpected places. Does our embezzled tax come to mind? That has got to be some smooth pickpocketing style! You now understand my anxiety?
I also find prayers before meetings patronising. They are always held in a Christian format with no regard for other faiths.
I keep my eyes open because I do not believe there is sincerity in such prayers. If, indeed, there was, we won’t have that many public servants dipping their fingers in the public purse.
It’s like those praying are asking God to save them from being caught! I use these prayer sessions to count cattle in Marsabit.
There is so much pressure to behave religiously in Kenya that, if you are independent minded, you stick out like a sore thumb.
The pretentiousness by some of us of being moral and upright just by turning up to a mosque, or church, is one that gets me a little jittery.
If you do not walk around with some religious swag, you get shunted into the devil’s crib by fanatics for being immoral – and it is all too easily done.
But is our moral gauge based on what we wear or how we appear to others than behaving morally regardless of religious prostrations and outwardly appearance?
The poor, who have no money to indulge in expensive burka or a gold crucifix, have the same opportunity to have their prayers heard.
Whether we are praying to Allah, Jesus or a tree in Karura forest, prayers should be less about showing off and more about good intentions that we carry in our hearts, minds and souls.
The ‘wrong prayers for wrong things’ are exemplified well in prosperity churches that have overrun the country.
Like an abusive mother who eats hers and her children’s meals as she watches them starve, the ‘shepherds’ (read pastors) in prosperity churches get richer faster than their ‘flock’ (That word fits the bill!).
Robbing the poor in the name of God has become the norm and prosperity churches are spitting out more millionaires than any other industry.
They have become crafty at benefitting from the poor’s vulnerabilities, as our politicians will them on with phoney tithes called harambee.
If prayers for material wealth were sincere, the preachers and the faithful would be on an even keel wealth-wise as ‘manna’ from God is for all, but alas!
Legally, fake pastors are just as bad as fraudsters; only that the former fool us by hiding behind the scriptures.
I promised not to be preachy but once God is mentioned it is too easily done. Excuse Moi and be glad I haven’t demanded any change from you! (See first para on ‘tithe’).
As we take to prayer to complement the work of our scientists to tackle Covid-19, we may, perhaps, need to ask whether we are praying honestly.
A nation that talks to God earnestly need not find itself topping the league of corrupt countries but should be a shining example of a pious society.
Indeed, faith has been proven to boost our immunity and help to improve some types of mental health issues through meditation, such as anxiety.
Covid-19 has shown us how behavioural changes can bring about safety from viruses.
I believe they can also create an honest society. It is time we started to match those prayers with honest behaviour around public coffers and God’s work.
Ms Guyo is a legal researcher based in Kenya and the United Kingdom; [email protected]