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Opinions of Thursday, 20 March 2014

Columnist: Adjekum, Odadie Okatakyie Kwasi

Do We Really Need a National Week of Fasting

Do We Really Need a National Week of Fasting and Prayers for ‘Ailing’ Ghana???

A National Week of fasting, prayer and thanksgiving, will begin this year. It will be organised by the Christian community, in collaboration with the government. This was after a breakfast meeting between the presidency and senior clergymen at the Banquet Hall of the Flag-Staff House (Graphic online 03/18/2014). In as much as it is a good call, to fast and pray for Ghana, I believe there are issues that should be put into their proper perspective. I believe that though there may be spiritual manipulation of the affairs of every nation, it takes the human host to implement or actuate the spiritual scheme. Most of the myriad of problems that we face as a country is our own doing and results from sheer stupidity, lack of vision, ineptitude and abysmal leadership. God has given Ghana all that we require in terms of human and material resources to be a prosperous nation. Why is it that in the abundance of all these resources, we still find ourselves in this quagmire of economic scum and leadership void?

For the purposes of this article, I am wearing my cap as a Christian and will attempt to address this issue, from a biblical perspective. God told Solomon in II Chronicles 7:14: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." I think that is what has informed our clergy and the government to call for the fast. However God hates religion without reality, ritual without relationship, ceremony without sincerity. God hates personal piety without social justice. He hates any form of religiosity that is clustered around self, without love for God and for other people. God hates religiosity where people act like angels during national prayer and fasting moments but act more like devils the rest of the time.

In Zechariah 7 the Bible shows how the Jews, who had been fasting, had a question for God. We see God answering their question with a question: “Was it really for me that you fasted? “ (7:5). God says that their religious activity is too self centered and hypocritical. They think more about themselves than about God’s will or the welfare of other people. God tells them, “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor’’. Are Ghanaians and especially our leaders ready to show empathy for suffering masses?? Are we ready to show practical concern for the plight of the marginalised, weak and socially oppressed? Are we ready to eschew greed, nepotism, avarice and corruption? Are we taking advantage and abusing the trust and authority that has been reposed in us by the people? Do we think about our interest and welfare to the detriment of others?

Do we show leadership of integrity and purpose? Are we ready to stand for the truth, even when it will cost us? Are we ready to point out the wrongs and ills perpetrated by our own political patrons? Can we be honest and tell it as it is, without fear? Are our men of God playing their role as spiritual gate keepers and admonishing political leaders/society on the greed, corruption and national mismanagement that has beset Ghana, or by their silence, they have become tacit accomplices? Are our parliamentarians and members of the judiciary up to the task of fighting for the welfare and ensuring social justice for the ‘despondent Ghanaian’?
‘When these people plug their ears and harden their hearts to God’s call for justice, how does the Lord respond?’ “When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty’’ (Zechariah 7:9—13).

Zechariah 7:4-6 actually confirms that God allowed national observances for the Jewish people, but His issues were with the attitude in which they observed such times. God’s concern during this period is our sincerity and motivation during the fasts. It should be a time of prayer and repentance. To fast without any hunger for justice is to be a hypocritical. The Church should be a social justice platform, and Christians should be at the forefront of political action groupings that will galvanize social justice and good governance. Christians should be ready to take up elected office and be the aroma of Christ, through leadership of integrity, empathy and positive activism. Christians must be leaders who will uphold justice and integrity.

We cannot use such national prayers and fasting as a bait to appeal to the religious sensitivities of Ghanaians, when we continue to ‘insult’ God by indulging in bribery, greed, corruption and nepotism. We cannot use such ‘holy’ ceremonies as a ‘’smoke screen’’ for inept leadership and brazen dereliction of assigned duties. God ignores phony fasting. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fast. It means we should fast rightly. When we fast for justice, our own hunger reminds us of the desperate hunger of people in need. We may feel just a tiny sample of what they feel, but it will help us care more about them. If we will just spend a quarter of the energy we expend on our religious activities to be diligent, meticoulous, honest and work assiduously in all our chosen endeavours, I guess Ghana will be transformed positively and the Better Ghana Agenda will see fruition. Praise the Lord, Hallelujah.

Odadie Okatakyie Kwasi Adjekum
kadjekum@yahoo.com