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Why Most Prayerful Countries Are Not Most Prosperous

NORMALLY, the most prayerful countries on earth should be the most prosperous. Unfortunately, according to data released recently by the Pew Research Centre, a non-partisan American think-tank based in Washington D.C., that is not the case. In fact, the most prayerful countries in the world are among the poorest!

Result of the Pew survey showing the most prayerful countries in the world in percentage has the following countries on top of the list: Afghanistan, 96 per cent; Nigeria, 95 per cent; Algeria, 88 per cent; Senegal, 88 per cent; Djibouti, 87 per cent; Iran, 87 per cent; Iraq, 87 per cent; Niger, 87 per cent; and Indonesia, 84 per cent. In the same survey conducted between 2008 and 2017, Nigeria had emerged as the most prayerful country in the world.

Interestingly, the least prayerful countries in the survey – China (1 per cent), UK (6 per cent), Switzerland (8per cent), Austria (8 per cent), Czechoslovakia (9 per cent), Germany (9 per cent), Estonia (9 per cent) France (10 per cent) and Denmark (10 per cent) – are among the most economically prosperous nations in the world.

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Note that many of those most prayerful countries in the Pew survey had hit the bottom in the 2023 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index that ranked 142 countries based on their adherence to the rule of law. While Nigeria and Afghanistan came tops on prayerfulness, they kissed the dust on obedience to the rules that govern their countries – rules which they made for themselves but hardly obey.

Another significant observation can be made concerning these most prayerful countries. Besides being among the poverty capitals of the world, these countries are reeling under the dead weight of all manners of armed conflicts and insecurity of lives and property. Their citizens are also among the most corrupt in the world.

If after praying, we go and raid the public Treasury, or murder fellow countrymen and women, our prayer is in vain. In fact, such prayer stokes God’s anger against the misguided prayer-warrior. The only prayer from a thief that is acceptable to God is prayer of genuine repentance. Every other prayer of a sinner is abomination onto God.

Prayer ought to steer us away from stealing, murder, wickedness, treachery, deceit, lies, laziness, irresponsibility and such. Societies that have strong work ethics, abhor the above vices or effectively sanction them through laws, will prosper, whether they pray or not. It is not prayer in itself that brings economic prosperity, although sincere prayer can shape the right mindset and create an atmosphere conducive for wealth generation.

In any case, countries where people subscribe to misguided notions of religion like religious intolerance, fanaticism and bigotry have nothing else to look forward to other than violent conflicts, poverty, diseases and all manners of backwardness.

As we celebrate Christmas and New Year, let us reflect on the teachings of Jesus Christ whose birthday we are celebrating. We must also reassess what religion means to us and how we can use it to advance our society, bring lasting peace, justice and economic prosperity to our people.

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