A problem arose when a poor unemployed church-member asked God to give him British Airways.
I was reviewing this article, then titled “Ungodly Prayers,” when the Lord suddenly spoke. He said: “Femi, it is written, ‘my house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but they have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (Matthew 21:13; John 10:10).
Immediately, I understood him. Thieves now attend prayer-meetings where they steal, kill and destroy.
At these prayer-meetings, you are likely to see “ogbologbo” Christians firing “return-to-sender missiles” with great alacrity. They might shout with “holy anger:” “Let my killer begin to kill himself now, in Jesus’ name.” Or they might make a decree: “I command the baptism of madness to fall on my stubborn enemies, in Jesus’ name.”
These thieves pray with passion borne out of pure “sanctified” hatred: “Every lying tongue against me; be destroyed now, in the name of Jesus.” You can get to one meeting and find one thousand thieves chanting “die; die; die” in alarming frenzy. Who do they want consumed suddenly by Holy Ghost fire? “Every enemy of my marriage; every enemy of my destiny; every power planning to wage war against my divine vision; what are you waiting for, die in the name of Jesus.”
Like the biblical Amalekites, these enemies are destroyed with fanfare, only to resurrect again and again.
In January 2008, armed robbers attacked a church on the outskirts of Lagos and raided some banks on the premises. The bishop took offence and cursed them. He directed his church-members to pray that the wrath of God would be visited on the criminals. He also cursed kidnappers operating in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. He asked God to kill them all. He said: “We place curse on their roots wherever they are and we pray that thunders of heaven will strike and the judgment of God will come upon them.”
Is this bishop a follower of Jesus? I seriously doubt it. According to Jesus, those who curse their enemies and pray for their death cannot be sons of God (Matthew 5:45). Sons of God love their enemies and repay evil for good. They don’t swear or curse. They don’t go to prayer-meetings and chant “die; die; die.”
However, the doctrine of sacrifices, whereby people inherit land that is not theirs; kill off the rightful owners, and destroy entire tribes and races, has brought a devious spirit into the heart of Christianity, in spite of Jesus’ warnings (Luke 9:51-56).
I was at a fellowship when someone came up with a strange prayer-request. He had paid someone who promised to show him his WAEC exam papers beforehand. However, the person not only failed to do so, he also refused to refund the money. In distress, this Christian “thief” asked us to pray to God so that he can “possess his possession.” “After all,” he maintained, “I have paid for the exam papers.”
But how can we pray to a God of righteousness to fulfill ungodly petitions? The psalmist asks: “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?” (Psalm 14:4). Christians need to know that God does not attend the prayer-meetings of thieves and robbers. Thus, Asaph pleads: “O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry against the prayer of your people?” (Psalm 80:4).
A friend attended a service where “baba isale” thieves were told to write prayer-requests on pieces of paper which were then given to the pastor. Many allowed their imagination to run riot, asking God to give them what rightfully belonged to others. Some asked for all the properties in Lekki, a high-brow area of Lagos. Others asked for choice local industries and companies.
A major area of interest was the airlines. In this spiritual free for all, many of the local airlines became up for grabs. However, a problem arose when a poor unemployed church-member asked God to give him British Airways lock, stock and barrel. The pastor was not amused. That thief had gone too far. How could he expect God to give him British Airways?
But if God could give others the local Bellview and Albarka Airlines; why not the foreign British Airways? Is anything too difficult for God? Once we encourage covetousness in the name of prayer, how can we then draw arbitrary limitations? If God would give the property of others to us, what stops him from giving others our property?
This is what happens when thieves and robbers pastor churches. We end up by teaching men the tricks of our trade. Jesus says: “All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers” (John 10:8). Those who came after are no better. Indeed, we are worse.