It is in the middle of the night. The neighbourhood is asleep and unconsciously thinking about the next day. However, 26-year-old Martha is still awake. She is not a student, so she is not awake to study to pass examinations. She is not employed, so she is not awake to prepare for the next day’s tasks.
She is just a loafing young woman living in her parents’ home. So why is she still awake at this hour? She is praying. Yes, she is praying to God so that He should solve her unemployment problem.
Martha wants a good job so that she can take care of her parents who are getting old. She wants a well paying job, to drive a posh car like some other well-heeled women in town. She is praying hard to the extent of hitting walls in her bedroom, hence disturbing neighbours who are asleep.
Martha is hopeful that God will answer her prayers and that soon she will live a good life which she yearns for. Some Bible verses give her such hope. For example, she says Mark 11: 24 gives her hope that through prayer, she will get whatever she wants from God. The verse reads: “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Furthermore, Matthew 21:22 says if you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer and Martha also banks her hopes on this verse.
But one fact about Martha is that she is not educated enough to get a well-paying job that can enable her to live a decent life in the city she resides. She is a Form Three drop-out. This means her maximum academic qualification is Junior Certificate of Education (JCE). Even university graduates are struggling to find a good job in Malawi and other countries, so will Martha surpass them and grab a shiny job with her JCE just because she prays for that job?
“The prayer is always powerful. Prayer always brings miracles. God is able to answers all our problems. I tell you, the year 2015 will not end before I get a good job here in Blantyre,” says Martha.
Apart from praying in her bedroom, Martha goes to Ndirande Hill to pray with her three friends. Sometimes she goes alone.
But Pastor Francis Kapheni of Dedza Assemblies of God says it is true that God answers prayers and that people should rely on prayers for their problems. Nevertheless, pastor Kapheni says prayers do not work when there is laziness in a person engaging in such prayers.
Kapheni explains: “The truth is that God answers people’s prayers but not at the expense of laziness or disqualification. If God can put you in an office that you do not qualify for; how will you do that job? God is not God of confusion.”
Kapheni adds that it is important for people to understand that hard work is needed in whatever people are doing.
A devoted Christian from Nkhotakota, Chiyanjano Moyenda, agrees with Kapheni. Moyenda says the misunderstanding that people have about how prayers work makes them lose opportunities in life.
“Some people turn down good offers just because they believe every good thing comes with prayers. For example, during my university days, my friend was struggling with one of the courses during one semester. I offered to help him because I was performing well in that course. Surprisingly, he refused and he said he would just pray hard so that God should help him. Unfortunately, he failed that course and repeated the class,” Moyenda recalls.
But Martha sticks to her position of believing that people who say prayer is not enough do not understand God.
“I repeat that God has all powers. Through prayers I will be able to receive what I ask for from my God. I will find a good job regardless of JCE being my highest academic qualification,” she insists.