A Different Kind of Tool for the Struggle against Injustice – Tselot
A friend of mine who is a Moslem prays five times a day. I once asked him why he prays so many times. (more…)
A friend of mine who is a Moslem prays five times a day. I once asked him why he prays so many times. His explanation was simple: in addition to being one of the pillars of his faith, he believes it is a petition to the Almighty God to have good health, prosperity and peace in ones life. He goes on to say that prayer is his first line of defense. According to him what is happening in the spiritual world is eventually manifested in the physical. Therefore the only way to fight back the spiritual that manifests itself in the physical is by being spiritual.
Spiritual battle between good and evil is raging in Ethiopia. This is evident from the recent growth in the number of witches and wizards throughout the country. Another friend, who just came back from the country, related to me that an alarming numbers of people visit these witches. According to him, in some rural areas it is customary to use witches as judges to preside over legal matters. It is not unusual, for example, to receive subpoena issued by witches; this is normally a responsibility of the courts. This alone says a great deal about the state of the justice system in Ethiopia. The current rulers of Ethiopia are also known to frequent these places of evil worship. In fact this same friend told me that, Azeb is a well known customer of witchcraft services. It is rumored that she has been told by one of the practitioners that her husband will eventually be eliminated by someone who is very close to him.
These days, true faith believers are attacked by wizardry from the outside but also from religious institutions from the inside. For instance, the Orthodox Christians are constantly harassed by the likes of Abun Paulos and his gang of Mahbere Kidusan (better known as Mahbere Erkusan). These hypocritical spiritual cadres believe and act exactly like what Jesus used to call “the Pharisees” two thousand years ago. They are simply an organization used by the regime to cripple the power of the church.
Some five years ago during the aftermath of the 2005 election in Ethiopia, I called my family to ask them how they are coping with the state violence on the people of Addis. My father at the time told me that it was unbearable even to an old man like himself. And I jokingly asked him to go pray for peace because I know he goes to church everyday. His response was alarming. The church officials have already posted prohibition notices on every church gate in Addis Abeba advising parishioners that praying for peace is not allowed as Woyane believes there is peace in the land. In Ethiopia, a struggle even as peaceful as a prayer is a crime.
If praying is considered as a protest tactic by the current rulers, then it must have some power for Woyane to be fearful enough as to ban it out right. This led me to research the power of prayer in the struggle for justice. Apart from being the most safe form of protesting (prayer is a petition between the believer and the Almighty God, hard to detect and therefore prohibition is difficult to enforce.), the advantages of prayer as a form of protest is threefold.
First, praying for a cause is a form of protest that appeals to believers of all religions.
Secondly, for both believers and non-believers alike, continuous calls for prayer keep reminding the people the struggle for justice is still alive and well and not forgotten. This will lead to internalization of the cause and may even give the people the strength to persevere in the face of hardship and injustice.
Thirdly, probably most importantly, prayer really works. I am a believer in the power of genuine prayer to bring about a desired change. But the question is what kind of prayer works and how does one pray.
Prayer That Works
As part of my research, I asked my local pastor how to pray effectively. According to him an effective prayer is one where the faithful starts by giving praise and glory to the Almighty God. Then he/she acknowledges his/her sinfulness first and seeks forgiveness followed by petitioning divine intervention to obtain a desired outcome. A good prayer always ends by giving thanks to God. In general the prayer has to fall in line with the nature of God and His grand plan for his creatures. One cannot for instance ask the Lord to cover their lies for them or cannot seek divine protection when one is out to rob a bank.
Once the petitioner present his/her prayer in good faith, he/she can rest assured that the wish is already granted. Prayers are answered in one of three ways: The first is that the prayer is answered positively and the petitioner is granted his/her wish. Secondly, the answer is a definite no. and thirdly, the prayer is answered but not exactly as expected. As mentioned before, the positive answer is a result of prayer that is presented in accordance with divine laws. Prayers that contradict God’s laws or grand plan for his creatures will not be positively answered. Where granting the requested wish of the petitioner is not in the best interest of the petitioner, God will respond with what is appropriate under the circumstances. For instance, one can ask for a fast car like a Ferrari but God might give the requester a Hyundai Pony. God may perceive that a fast car may expose the believer to more aggressive driving that could lead to endangerment of his life and other users of the road.
Powerful prayer is one where like-minded individuals get together and present their prayer in tandem. This might pose some logistic problems for Ethiopians are dispersed over 5 continents. Coordinating this might seem staggering. But thanks to technology we can easily coordinate the event to happen at the same time all over the world. We can plan for the event to happen every two weeks. It is especially important to make every effort that the time to be picked is convenient for the Ethiopian people. They are the ones who are faced with tyranny day in and day out.
To begin the prayer campaign, we can set up a paltalk room where we can advertise and even share prayer ideas. Although I am not technologically savvy, I know there are other tools we can use such as Face Book, Twitter, email and other types of user groups as well as cell phone texting. We can also ask the assistance of radio programmers who broadcast to Ethiopia to help us reach possible Ethiopian participants.
The following prayer can be modified if necessary. The prayer has Christian tone and therefore our Moslem brothers can compose something that is appropriate for their faith along the same lines:
Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and loving-kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,
We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Do not remember our iniquities and let Your compassion come quickly to meet us. Forgive us and deliver us for Your name’s sake.
Let the groaning of the prisoners of Ethiopia come before you;
For strange oppressors have risen against the people of Ethiopia
Violent men have sought our lives;
Even the ones ruling over us oppress us;
They trampled upon us all day long;
They have no fear of God in them for evil is in their midst
Look upon our affliction and rescue us, O Lord;
Bring down our oppressors and scatter them;
Do not let the arrogant rule over us and oppress us;
We long for Your salvation O Lord, set us free from the rule of the deceitful;
Destroy the evil in the land and restore to us your peace;
We sing praises to You for You do not forsake those who seek You;
We pray to be free from our oppressors, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen
Alternatively, believers can be asked to pray their own composition.
Initially, I wanted to write in Amharic but I do not have Amharic software and I have not tried typing in Amharic. The Prayer can be improved upon and typed in Amharic to reach the most.
I have heard that religion plays a very important role in Latin America. They have a form of ideology used to fight injustice known as Liberation Theology. Anyone who knows enough about this form of struggle may give us an idea if we can employ it and use it for our cause.