CYBERJOURNAL FOR PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC RESEARCH #26
"'Power Must Change Hands': Militarisation of Prayer and the Quest for Better Life among Nigerian Pentecostals"
By Dr. Benson O. Igboin and Dr. Babatunde Adedibu
The role of prayer, particularly in the Pentecostal tradition in addressing the personal challenges of Nigerians, cannot be over-emphasised. Nevertheless, spirituality and power underscore the complexity of the religious subscriptions of Pentecostals in the militarisation of prayers for personal liberation rather than community or national development. The militarisation of prayer within the personal and organisational continuum raises further concerns with respect to socio-political situation of the country. This article explores the concept of militarisation of prayers through the Pentecostal lens in relation to the various acts of spiritual terrorism by demons, curses, occult and so forth. In reality, there is a demonstration of spiritual competition of forces: the forces of good and evil, God and Satan, thus emphasising the need and urgency that power must change hands. It is argued that power must change hands does not yet affect the socio-political sphere of Nigeria.
Prayer; militarization; power; Pentecostalism; corruption; spiritual; terrorism
In 2007, General Williams challenged Nigerian Christians to produce evidence that their prayers could change the corrupt status of the country. He spoke against the backdrop of the increase in prayer and less social action by Christians, particularly against the evil of pervasive corruption and state failure. In fact, the last three decades in Nigeria can aptly be described as the age of Christian reawakening in the light of the proliferation of churches of different traditions particularly the Pentecostal tradition. Hence, Nigerian Pentecostalism has transformed the church scene with its transposable practices, liturgy, charismata and ritual practices. Indeed, the rising tide of Nigerian Pentecostalism defies the claims of secularisation and the apparent decline of African Traditional Religion in these contexts. Boyd posits that: “The growth of a religiously oriented ... activism in the early years of the twenty-first century points to the expanding importance of spirituality as a mode of social critique in neoliberal Africa.”
The Pentecostal traditions in Nigeria are quite creative and innovative in the use of the scriptures to address various existential challenges. Boyd further observes that almost every aspect of human engagement – faith and reason, religion and politics, etc – is given a spiritual interpretation. The point is, when everything is interpreted as having spiritual causation, little or no room is left for human reason and social action. This is the point Williams is stressing: the place of social action backed by militarised prayer. There seems to be no response to this challenge. Christians have continued to concentrate their prayer more towards self-liberation rather than national liberation. The implication is that even though people are delivered, they are still confronted with the reality of the state, characterised by corruption. Interestingly, the Christian leaders and Christians generally, especially within the Pentecostal fold, believe that there is power that can change situations. But such power has not been extended towards the transformation of the society. This is one challenge this paper seeks to arouse.
The Concept of ‘Power must change hands’ in Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Nigeria
Anyone who is conversant with the activities of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFMM), Nigeria, founded and superintended by Pastor Daniel Kolawole Olukoya since the late 1980s, will not find any problem decoding the spiritual import of power must change hands. The church, which sprang up from a prayer meeting attended by 24 brethren aside Dr. Olukoya on a Wednesday in 1989, commenced service on Sunday April 24, 1994. In July 1995, Olukoya said he had received the directive from the Holy Spirit to commence the ‘Power Must Change Hands’ (PMCH) programme, to be held every first Saturday of the month. According to Olukoya, power must change hands is a concept derived from the belief that Satan has bound many believers and nonbelievers alike and dispossessed them of their rights and entitlements for so long, which has led even to the death of some of them. He argues that many believers’ destinies have been wickedly taken over or suppressed by the devil. The devil, being a powerful and wicked agent of darkness, has not shirked from wielding his powers against his victims and causing them problems. Thus, through violent prayers by determined and purged Christians, he believes that God will intervene to liberate them and restore their battered destinies. This underscores the belief that God has a higher and greater power that can only be activated through the spiritual exercise through fasting and prayer and consistent holy living. The PMCH, therefore, is characterised not only by evolutionary accretions, but also by revolutionary thunderbolts that shatter the stronghold of the enemies thus causing the freedom of the importunate believers. This makes power must change a militarised form of prayer. Simply put, power must change hands means a spiritual coup through which the authority of the devil over a believer is overthrown, and the believer begins to live a life of freedom.
Marshall conceives of militarised prayer as “prescriptive regime” which relates heavily with the intrapersonal and supernatural struggles encountered by many Pentecostal Christians in Nigeria. Most of the Christians hold on to personal salvation and a sense of constant ‘military’ engagement with the ubiquitous presence of the devil, which is ready to wreak havoc at any time. The use of ‘regime’ to conceptualise Pentecostalism is instructive here because it conveys the idea of military engagement and dispensation. It even becomes handier to many Nigerian Pentecostal Christians generally given their experiences from the oppressive military regimes that have presided over the country for a long time. Nigerians have engaged in many struggles: against the colonialists to gain independence, military regimes to return to democracy and the on-going struggles against dictators (who pose as democrats) to access dividends of democracy. Marshall, therefore, suggests that militarised prayer should result in “a radical transformation of individual and collective existence.” This “end” to use her word becomes problematic because of the belief in “the omnipresence of evil” versus what we call ‘the omnipotence of prayer’ channelled to ‘an omnipotent God.’ The belief in pervasive presence of evil has the danger of making believers (even those who were once delivered) live so mechanically that the belief that grace could be obtained by works may be forged. For Olukoya, the enemies are constantly trailing the believers with the primary purpose of stripping them of their divine blessings. This ‘foe-phobic’ consciousness makes the believers to go through the ritual cycle of militarised prayer.
At another level, militarisation of prayer and its present theology and praxis of demonisation and ‘otherisation’ would tend towards absolutism and exclusivism because it seeks to dominate all spheres of human existence, both spiritual and mundane, and bring them under its own space. This Christian Pentecostal absolutism is already being contested by the emergence of what Adogame refers to as “Pentecostal Islam” and Obadare calls “Charismatic Islam” represented by the Nasirul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), which has not only positioned itself on the Ibadan-Lagos Expressway, the hub of Pentecostal sacred spaces as a counter-balance but more importantly as a brand of militarised form of spiritual warfare within the Islamic faith in Nigeria. Within the Pentecostal fold in Nigeria, people have begun to feel that those who do not pray in a certain format advocated by the MFMM are living under some curse. This unease has resulted in members of other denominations, sometimes, stealthily participate in the power must change hands programme.
Boyd notes that an open-air prayer shelter “christened the Pentagon, so named because it was here the church members conducted spiritual warfare by harnessing the force of collective prayer to address spiritual and social problems.” Obviously, the Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the United States’ Defence Department also carries the sense of military prowess and arsenals which can be harnessed to combat opposing forces and in this case, spiritual forces. According to Boyd, deliverance prayer is a special form of prayer different from ordinary prayers. She argues that its specialty has to do with its theology of “spiritual warfare” methodology, where warfare is understood as waging war relentlessly against the forces of darkness. In a warfare scenario, an army must be able to recognise and identify the enemies, their strength and sophistication of their weapons. Knowledge of the extent of the enemies’ prowess and arsenals in spiritual warfare is usually gotten through revelation and the scriptures, which helps the Christian leaders and their victims being delivered to ‘fight’ strategically.
Boyd further argues that “deliverance prayer reinforced the idea that every relationship that a person has in the physical world is mirrored in a spiritual relationship, and that the spiritual relationship has physical effects that may extend into the future indefinitely, even after you have ended your worldly ties to that person.” This idea has some theologically implications when viewed against a believer becoming completely new in Christ, making old things to pass away (2 Cor. 5:17). However, when we observe the position of MFMM, it is not difficult to note that even Christians are sometimes directed to go through deliverance process in order to part with their past ties. Adetula, in an interview, argues that even though a person is born again, he or she still needs deliverance session so that his or her destiny hitherto controlled by the devil would be rescued and restored to the person. This, according to him, is the idea of power must change hands. Spiritual forces do not only harm a person spiritually but also physically and existentially. Because the belief is that the spiritual is more powerful than the physical, the force of militarised prayer is targeted at the spiritual. Such spiritual forces include ancestral curses, witchcraft manipulation, curses from previous existence(s) brought forward, Satanic and malignant forces in the dark world that hold people bound. Through militarised prayer, Nigerian Christians engage “this tension rather than deny it.” This is why “deliverance prayer was often intense, especially if the spiritual ties that were identified proved difficult to break.”
Adogame unpacks the contents of the militarised prayers in different churches. He reports that in Winners’ Chapel presided over by Bishop David Oyedepo, “waging war against the terror of Satan and his cohorts” is a preoccupation. In fact, Oyedepo emphasises the belief that life generally is a battle. According to him, the fact that many people detest the word ‘battle’ does not deny the fact that everyone faces one battle of life and the other, which must be confronted militantly with the power of the Holy Ghost. In the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, also employs military terms in his militarised prayer discourse. He maintains that “every true child of God must be a terror to the devil and his agents.” Being a terror to the devil in this instance connotes that the Christian must be at the offensive instead of being in the defensive. For the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries, the General Overseer, Daniel Olukoya, the proponent of ‘power must change hands,’ militarisation of prayer has a special “epistemology of demons and extensive appropriation of warfare rhetoric,” which stands it out uniquely in the realms of deliverance operation. For Olukoya, since God Himself is a man of war and a consuming fire, “militant prayer must have power and fire in it.” Thus, militant prayer is aggressive and only prayer warriors equipped for it can deploy “spiritual violence,” “military strategy” and spiritual military hardware against demons who do not want the faithful to enjoy the good of life.
Inadvertently, the concept of militarisation of prayer raises the issue of dualism, which many Nigerian Pentecostal Christians would consciously deny. In reality, there is the demonstration of spiritual competition of forces: the forces of good and evil, God and Satan. The locus is the person being arrested by some spiritual forces of evil who now engages in warfare for deliverance. In most Nigerian Christian thought, the ancestors, for instance, are demonised and regarded as wicked spiritual agents who oppress the believers until they go through special deliverance session. Even though they believe that ancestral forces do hold people down, they also hold the belief that the ancestors are powerless who should not be feared or venerated. The best option would therefore be to excise the link between them and their ancestors through spiritual means. Being born again, one is believed to have jettisoned the past that linked one to ancestors and their curses. Through the power of Jesus in contention with the evil forces, one is believed to be delivered and set free. In every militarised session, it is believed that the power of God will definitely overcome the forces of evil through “the performative power of prayer and the agency of supernatural forces.” Marshall elaborates further:
In couching salvation in terms of the necessity of “global spiritual warfare,” through its Manichean division of the world between the “saved” and the “satanic,” it likewise appears to express a politics of exception and exclusion, in which the identification of “satanic” enemies is at the heart of its political onto-theology. However, on closer inspection, it is not certain that either the figure of divine sovereignty or the friend/enemy division that it expresses mirror that of our theologico-political tradition, or even Carl Schmitt’s decisionism pressed into the service of shoring up state power under his apocalyptic vision of the chaos from below.
This imagination and imaging of dualism pitches Satan against God, but that at the end of the contest, God usually prevails, leading to the liberation of the Christians. This can be substantiated by Jesus’ teaching that when the kingdom of God suffers violence, it is only those who are revolutionary in spirit that are capable of taking it by force (Matt.11:12), and not by negotiation. Essentially, those who pray the violent prayers or make use of imprecatory prayers get results. They resolve either to die or to overthrow the devil in order to live worthy lives. The total rejection of the oppression of the devil and his cohorts is believed to be the stimulant to praying until the desired change occurs.
The spiritual warfare commitment could have been built on Ephesians 6:10-18 where the spiritual arsenals provided are only for one’s front while the back is unprotected. In this full armour of God theology, the Christian warrior is protected with the buckle of truth around his or her waist, the chest with the breastplate of righteousness, the feet with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith to thwart the darts of the enemies, the helmet of salvation for the head and the sword of the Spirit on the hand. The warrior’s back is not provided with any protective armour. In this spiritual warfare scenario, anyone that turns back having enlisted in the prayer army could be hit by counter-military forces commanded by the devil and his cohorts. This is the old style of understanding the Armour of God. Valid to an extent but only in the context that the armour language depicts the Gospel and that it is that which clothes the Christian. So, the extrapolation here is exaggerated even though it is functional within the power must change hands context.
Abu-Raiya et al distinguish among the different types of spiritual struggles. According to them, there are supernatural struggles which focus on supernatural agency and agents that are capable of manifesting through divine struggle such as “negative emotion or conflict centred on beliefs about a deity or a perceived relationship with a deity” or demonic struggle as discernible in the belief that “the devil or evil spirits are attacking an individual or causing negative events.” The second is the intrapersonal struggles that concern one’s inward thoughts and actions. It has to do with moral, doubt-related and ultimate meaning-related struggles. Finally, the interpersonal struggles are consequent upon “negative experiences with religious people or institutions or conflict with others around religious issues.” In militarisation of prayer, all of these are stressed: first the individual has to purge his or herself of inward struggles and moral dark recesses; second learn to forgive others and free them from one’s mind, and third engage in violently uncompromising prayer against the demonic forces that are believed to be responsible for the negative occurrences being experienced whether they are spiritual agents or human instruments.
Adogame has thought of the demonic spirits in terms of “spiritual terrorism,” upon which he builds “the epistemology and negotiation of spiritual warfare [that] makes sense in African Pentecostal ritual sensibilities.” He argues that spiritual terrorism shows signs of adaptability of the Christian faith to the existential challenges of Africans. However, we argue that spiritual terrorism does not end with that kind of epistemological conceptualisation only. It extends to methodological praxis for mission expansion or sustainable growth of denominations. Not infrequently, many Pentecostal leaders warn their members who may want to leave their churches of dire spiritual consequences; some even involve in imprecations and fearsome prophecies in order to retain membership. While some may not involve in the foregoing, they however subtly or overtly preach against leaving their churches for others by demonising other churches or representing them as less Christian in doctrine and practice. Since these are all ‘weapons’ they obviously qualify to be categorised as spiritual terrorism.
Be that as it may, there is something positive about the deployment of militarised prayers in Nigerian Pentecostal churches. It is the target of the prayer. We observe that even though Christians believe that they are being oppressed, demonised or arrested by some malignant forces which some of them believe manifest in human forms, they certainly do not take the law into their hands by physically assaulting suspects. We are aware of those who have also resorted to some physical assault in witchcraft deliverance processes and other religious traditions that are physically violent. This does not belong in the militarisation prayer discourse within Pentecostal Christianity. This is why those involved in such practices (such as witchcraft assault) have been condemned and some made to face the wrath of the law. The point being stressed, however, is that considering the magnitude of religious recrudescence being witnessed across Nigeria, physically militant Christians might probably wreck more havoc than other religious faiths involved in violence should they deploy their sense of spiritual-militarised prayer to physical combat. “Rather than taken up arms physically against the Amorites, Jebusites, etc. they perceive them as spiritual forces militating against their lives. So, they pray for deliverance from these wicked powers and principalities. What is suggestive here is that instead of resorting to physical violence, Christians and Muslims, as well as other adherents of various religions should interact with their scriptures from this perspective.” McAlister also argues that militarised prayer animates Christianity and generates positive forces for Christians, particularly the evangelicals, around the globe. She espouses the salient and peculiar historical, ethnic and geo-political factors that stimulate militarism in prayer and how these factors are weaved around theological texts. “They are praying against the spiritual evil of Satan himself, not against people. Physical violence against people or property is anathema to the teaching and practice of spiritual warfare, and practitioners are not connected to terrorism or armed militias in any way.”
Militarised Prayer and the Nigerian Socio-political Context
In militarised prayer discourse, Christian leaders place emphasis on spiritual deliverance, the power must change hands motif. In existential reality, the socio-economic and political opportunities are not readily commensurate with spiritual deliverance obtained. Although free and liberated from the spiritual curses, socio-economic challenges must be confronted in a situation where bad governance seems to be the rule rather than exception. It is this that led to socio-economic liberation or deliverance session which can be properly called brain drain and migration to the West where economic situations are more pleasant. Without undermining the significance of religion as a “survival-security strategy,” the conscious and unconscious refusal to channel the ‘holy anger’ or militarised prayer towards declaring a state of emergency on the economy raises pertinent question. Here again, we employ the dualism metaphor: if the delivered Christians who by their aggressive prayer and fasting got released from the forces of Satan, there remains the fact that there are forces of governance versus forces of bad governance in Nigerian political space, which require heightened spiritual military energy to overthrow in order to live a meaningful life in the homeland.
Evil and its perpetrators, which many Nigerian Christians believe that must be fought through violent prayers include: corruption and corrupt leaders, poverty and unemployment, absence of social amenities brought about by the failure of successive administrations, a situation that is conveniently anchored on corruption. It will be argued that though most Nigerian Christians pray fervently for the nation, it is hard to come by a group of Christians who have devoted themselves to pray against corruption and corrupt leadership in the straightforward manner with which they either pray to God to change hearts of the leaders or to give them their daily bread. We shall also argue that an ‘overdose’ of prayers can hardly bring about the desired change in power, because if the first is answered, those who may be beneficiaries may just not be different from those overcome. And finally, we shall posit that for power to change hands from the present corrupt leadership, the followership must be involved in some form of social action.
Many Christians in Nigeria believe that prayerful intervention has saved Nigeria from collapse. They hold the belief that prayer played critical role in rescuing the country from the military regimes, most especially during the era of late General Sani Abacha (November 17, 1993 – June 8, 1998), and that his sudden death in office, which saved the country from imminent collapse, was an answer to prayer. Williams argues that if this claim of efficacy of prayer is true, Christians ought to have also prayed against grand and petty corruption that has almost grounded the country. The regimes that have brought the country to its parlous state were all corrupt. If prayer saved the country from them, then it should have also removed the cause of the many problems of the country. As he puts it, “to many, it is prayers that have made Nigeria less volatile and violent but then not less corrupt.”
Williams’ challenge to Christians in Nigeria is yet to be taken up. Williams argues that Christians in Nigeria believe so much in the efficacy of prayers. As such, they spend considerable time praying for change in their personal circumstance and better life for the society. He further argues that empirical data do not suggest that Christians pray so much against corruption and corrupt leadership, which are responsible for the adverse social and political situation of the country. One reason they find it difficult to pray against corruption and corrupt leaders could be that many of them either benefit one way or the other from them or they fear them because of their ‘active’ presence in the churches. According to Williams, “it appears to me that most believers believe that monetary corruption is a minor sin that is easily forgiven compared to fornication or adultery, especially if you are generous with stolen wealth.” The implication of this is that, if corruption is thought to be less poisonous to most Christians, they would not pray against it. If corruption is the underlying factor for the present social and political ill of the country, and yet there is no concerted effort to pray against it, those who believe that they have been liberated personally would still find themselves in the cycle of poverty in the country.
Furthermore, Williams argues that most Nigerian Christian leaders are obsessed with external ceremonies. Their target is gathering huge population of socially deprived youth and give them hope, which the social reality they come out of the churches to meet, does not support. They are also involved in developmental projects, such as establishing of universities and other businesses, which most of their members cannot afford. The only benefits most members derive is the emotional attachment to the establishments. He posits that these are external; there are more critical spiritual issues that Christians in Nigeria ought to engage more seriously. In his words, Christians “put greater emphasis on external ceremonial aspects rather than spirituality which is the foundation for the principles of justice, integrity and responsibility.” By not insisting on these principles, he argues that Christians are aiding and abetting corruption, and allowing “selected individuals to use the name of the Supreme Deity to manipulate and control” the people to their advantage. Finally, Williams observes that many Nigerian Pentecostal leaders are more interested in building their own state within the state than using their prophetic position to influence a change in the socio-politics.
In fact, in Nigerian Christian prayer discourse, to pretend about the fundamental challenges raised by Williams above is, therefore, to deny the belief and claim of the potency or efficacy of prayer. If prayer can transform persons, situations and institutions as many Christians have testified, why then will they not purposefully and frontally devote ample time to pray against corruption in the country, and even more pressingly, within the Christian church? If the claim of Christians that prayers have made Nigeria less violent and volatile is true and reproducible, then, prayer can also make the country less corrupt and more developed. While maintaining this assumption, it is equally pertinent to observe, at least, that now that there is an upsurge in violence across the country (for instance, Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen’s spiral attacks on Christians and their farm land, kidnapping and ritualist onslaught, militant attacks, etc.), it would seem that either prayer is no longer said as it used to or now God is not answering the prayers again. We know that the latter assumption would not be acceptable to the generality of Nigerian Christians. Perhaps, Nigeria needs what has been referred to as “sovereign national prayer.” According to Igboin, Nigerian Christians generally have concentrated too much time and energy on bread and butter prayer while the country nose-dives towards a failed state. He, therefore, challenges them to devote considerable time and energy towards national prayer, that is, prayer exclusively organised for national deliverance. The reason is that whatever affects the country affects the church. George Ehusani eloquently presses it home thus:
More Nigerians are calling for fasting and prayer for our country. Churches are organising prayers vigils, individuals and organisations are staging regional or national prayer sessions. Even governments are said to be hiring pastors and imams to organise prayers for Nigeria, since only God can save Nigeria.... However, in spite of our belief in the efficacy of prayer and in the truth that only God can save our land, we remain highly suspicious of the ongoing clarion call for prayer for Nigeria.
Ehusani opines that the seeming obsession with prayer at all levels in the country is self-serving. For the people, prayer is used as though it is a magic wand. They do not do what they ought to do as citizens of the country. The leaders use prayer in Marxian way; this means that “religion is being utilised to keep the people quiet while sustaining the status quo of injustice, oppression, human degradation and abuse....” He further states that despite the belief in God’s intervention, such intervention cannot be against the wish of the people. In this sense, the people must do what they must do after praying for God to intervene. In other words, there is the urgent need for the Nigerian Christians to be involved in sustained social action. Ehusani also asserts that:
It is true that only God can save Nigeria. Yet, God will not save Nigeria without Nigerians. The Christian God that we worship does not save human beings against their will. Persons who are beneficiaries of His salvific acts are never treated as helpless objects. They are always seen as participating agents in the process of their own salvation.
Olukoya, the proponent of ‘power must change hands’ does not, of course, conceptualise it beyond the spiritual prayer programme he has put in place for the members of his church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFMM) and others who may be interested to participate in it, for their personal deliverance. The concept of power must change hands literally carries the toga of warfare, a struggle between the forces of God and those of the devil. Here, it is believed that the power to individually prosper and enjoy life to the fullest must have been arrested or taken over by the devil and his agents. Thus, participants must consciously and militantly by faith contend with the devil in order to take the power to prosper. This is clearly depicted in the August 2016 edition of Power Must Change Hand with the theme: “arresting the arresters.”
Most Nigerian Christians believe that within their cosmology, the devil and his agents are capable of derailing or arresting a person’s destiny. In this belief, such a person is incapable of breaking even in life no matter how hard he or she may try physically. Consequent upon the bondage of the devil, such a person is ‘condemned’ to live marginally at best and may even die prematurely. In a community where reincarnation is believed to be a possibility, the death of a person does not necessarily signal the end of the burden and vicissitudes of life. In fact, it is even held strongly that unless rituals are appropriately observed, such a person might reincarnate into a worse existence in the future life. In most cases, however, appeasement or exorcism seems to be most appropriate in securing a person’s destiny from the evil forces, except in a few cases that demand elaborate rituals. According to Adetula, members of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries do not subscribe to the indigenous method of exorcism. They believe that Christ has paid the price for human deliverance and as such, through militant prayer of faith, God would deliver the oppressed. Adetula does not deny the fact that there are malignant spirits that are responsible for poverty, bad luck and hardship that many Christians suffer from. He maintains that because many Christians, though saved, are ignorant of the fact that they need to break curses that are upon them, they still live in sorrow and poverty.
Apparently, power must change hands unconsciously emphasises a sort of karmic belief. Ayegboyin articulates this view. According to him, the curses that “frustrate the people may have their sources in words spoken now or in actions enacted in the past or even in previous generations.” In addition, deliverance ministries generally believe that such indigenous imprecations manifest not only in individuals, families, clans, nations but also continents. Although this belief is pervasive, it cannot be divorced from African indigenous cosmological and religious context in which curses, if not ritually removed, continue to hamper the progress of those upon whom they are justifiably placed. As pointed out earlier, the core of militarised prayer is to completely deliver the cursed. Thus, the MFMM, for example, emphasises that generational curses still hinder its members’ progress. Accordingly, Ayegboyin observes that “the church seems to make much ado with the phenomena of curses, oath of curses, generational curses and deliverance from these curses than any other church in Nigeria.” The difference that exists between the indigenous and Christian militarised methodologies is that while the former exorcises a person as a whole and the community through sacrifices, the latter concentrates on the person almost exclusively.
However, Adetula argues that to succumb to the indigenous religious methodology would be to abandon faith in Christ. The devil, as it is believed, is not to be negotiated with; but to be commanded in the name of Jesus to ‘loose his hold.’ Ogunnaike also argues that MFMM believes that prayers can change every human and cosmic situation if it is done in faith. He adds that almost all human problems have spiritual cause. That is why power must change hands offers an opportunity for Christians to “pray through and constantly maintain their freedom.” Andreescu also argues that prayer positively affects human life in almost all ramifications. According to Tait, Currier and Harris, “prayer might also be helpful in coping with challenges.” According to Tait et al, the ‘if’ and ‘how’ one prays are predicated on one’s image of and relationship with God as well as on whom a prayer is focused: whether God or one’s ego, and the types of prayer one prays. It is not, therefore, difficult to observe that most members of MFMM believe that God is a great Deliverer. But Ogunnaike admits that prayer hardly changes the socio-political context of Nigeria, hence there are many youth, who, though have involved in militarised prayer, yet remain socio-politically disadvantaged. He also informs that the contents of prayers seldom go beyond personal deliverance. Adetula later agrees that though the MFMM prays for the country in times of national danger as usually witnessed towards general elections, the church has not devoted exclusive time to intercede for Nigeria and her problems, especially corruption. He, therefore, suggests that if the church and other denominations concertedly pray against corruption, there is a high probability of its amelioration. Beyond prayer, there is the need for Nigerian Christians to be interested in social action against corruption. This must start, of course, at the personal level within the church too.
We argue that militarised prayer in Nigeria amongst the Pentecostals is concentrated on personal deliverance rather than national deliverance. The concept of power must change hands is narrowly conceptualised because as reality has shown, the personal deliverance from spiritual or cosmic forces believed to be working against a person’s breakthrough does not automatically translate to better life at the level of the socio-politics. The insistence on regular engagement in deliverance session implies among others that a Christian is not fully delivered from Satan. It is also a strategy to create fear in the minds of gullible members to keep them in the church. Because the contents of the prayers hardly extend to address the more pressing social and political situation of the country. Those who believe they have been spiritually delivered are birthed into the corrupt society, which most possibly could have been the cause of their problem.
As Williams has challenged, there seems to be no evidence to suggest that Nigerian Pentecostal leaders and churches have engaged in social action backed by prophetic role against corruption. Although there are occasional interventions where some pastors now involve in politics, the truth is that they have not demonstrated the Christian spirit as expected by most Christians. A consistent social demand for justice, integrity and responsibility can result in national liberation. Of course, this is part of militarised prayer that Nigeria needs in order to create an atmosphere of better life for those who are liberated from spiritual bondage.
 Ishola Williams, “Can Our Culture and Traditions Overcome Corruption?” CBAAC Occasional Monograph No.1, 2007.
Benson O. Igboin, “Secularisation of African Religious Space: From Perspective to Pluriversalism,” Spectrum: Journal of Contemporary Christianity and Society, 2/1 (April 2017): 60-79.
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