SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Livingstone
IN THE days of the bible, the king had a godly mandate to call a nation to prayer when need arose.
In modern day, even the most powerful nation in the world â€“ America â€“ has a history of calling for a national day of prayers.
Examples abound: Senator James Harlan of Lowa introduced a resolution in the Senate on March 2, 1863, asking President Abraham Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. It was adopted on March 3, and signed by Lincoln on March 30, a month before the fast day was observed and just a few months after Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation.
The President designated and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation with the following declaration: â€œAnd whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognise the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord:
â€œAnd, in so much as we know that, by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war may be, but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins?
â€œWe have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!â€
At a time when Zambia is passing through challenging times, President Lungu has demonstrated humility to God by calling the nation to prayer, following the footsteps of Godâ€™s servants and other great leaders.
Surprisingly, the call to national day of repentance, prayer and fasting has been received with mixed feelings.
While some sectors of society see it as an opportunity to unite in seeking intervention in a situation which may be beyond human intellect, others have expressed scepticism.
Despite the scriptural evidence of the decision taken by President Lungu to call for national prayers, certain people have embarked on a vigorous campaign to discourage many from taking part.
However, various men of God who understand the rationale behind the declaration of October 18 as a day of repentance, prayer and fasting have not kept quiet.
Pentecostal Assemblies of God, Worship Expressions branch pastor Michael Zulu dispelled any myths that naysayers have expressed.
â€œSome people are so blinded with their political affiliations and baseless social media statements to an extent that they cannot discern that a presidential declaration for national prayer day was motivated by God as stated in scripture,â€ he said.
He urged all true Christians to base their faith on biblical scriptures, adding that Romans 13:1 states that authority ought to be submitted to.
â€œâ€˜Every Christian must follow the rules of the land as stated in scripture and that even the national prayer day must be embraced by all Christians that leave by biblical standards,â€ he said
Pastor Zulu said the national prayer day would help preserve the country from civil war, turmoil, anarchy and also address the various economic challenges the country is facing.
He said Zambians must not perceive todayâ€™s religious activities as mere declaration by the President but as Godâ€™s will for Zambia.
Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director Pukuta Mwanza said Zambians must know that after the national prayer day, God will answer the prayers.
â€œGod has assured us that if we ask, we shall receive; if we seek, we shall find and if we knock, the door shall be opened,â€ he said
He Zambians should be positive that the countryâ€™s challenges will be history after the national day of repentance, prayer and fasting.
â€œWhen you read the bible in the book of Psalms 133:1-3, God has assured us that if we unite in prayer, He will release His blessings. And this shows that as we unite in prayer today, God will heal mother Zambia,â€ he said.
He further cited the example of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:2-7 which shows that when the king proclaimed a solemn fast for the nation, God answered them for the problems of war, famine and disease or pestilence.
Reverand Mwanza reiterated that when a nation agrees together by praying for Godâ€™s help, the prayer is answered.
And Livingstone Muslim Association (LMA), Imam Shuayb Manda said the presidential declaration of the repentance, prayer and fasting is timely as it marks the end of the many challenges that Zambia has been grappling with.
He alleged that most Zambians have so much hatred for each other and the prayers taking place should mark the beginning of love for one another.
He said Zambians must first realise the sins committed against God, promise the Almighty that they have repented, then fast and pray to God to sort out the many challenges the country is going through.
The book of 2 Chronicles 7:14 states that â€œIf they pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil, they have been doing, then I will hear them in heaven, forgive their sins and make their land prosperous againâ€.
Therefore, this biblical scripture amplifies the importance of the national day of repentance, prayer and fasting.
Majority Zambians are optimistic that the countryâ€™s challenges will be addressed after this important encounter with God and that the country will rise again.
In declaring October 18, 2015 as a national day of repentance, prayer and fasting the President stated that the countryâ€™s founding fathers and, mothers found it fit to commit the nationâ€™s destiny to Godâ€™s providence as evidenced by the placing of the national flag at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on October 25, 1964.
The President stated that the decision was inevitable in view of the many challenges that the country is facing such as disrespect for elders, high unemployment levels and high poverty levels, Kwacha depreciation, including load shedding.
The head of State appealed to all the people of Zambia to assemble at their respective places of worship and spend time in prayer and fasting to seek the face of God.
And Psalms 133:1 sums it this way: â€œHow good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!Â It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaronâ€™s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Livingstone