Lent is a period of sober reflections when Christians engage in fasting, prayers and repentance from sins, to reflect the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, not all Christian churches observe Lent, as it is mostly marked by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and the Eastern Orthodox churches.
However, many observers insist that this year’s Lent aptly presents an ample opportunity for Christians to pray for Nigeria and solicit God’s intervention in efforts to surmount the current challenges facing the country.
In his Lenten message, the Parish Priest of Christ the King Catholic Church, Kubwa, Rev. Fr. Festus Nwadike, said that the Lenten period offered a veritable opportunity for Christians to pray Nigeria out its present tribulations.
He noted that many people underrated the importance and potential of prayers which, in turn, made them vulnerable to all kinds of evil.
Nwadike, however, conceded that insecurity was not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that all the peoples of the world ought to enter into a period of penitence and seek the face of God.
“Nigeria and the rest of the globe are currently in distress. Every day, our ears are filled with news of the needless bloodbath in the north-eastern part of our country.
“Europe is enmeshed in political crisis, Africa is locked in violence and America and its allies are in perpetual economic crisis.These, among others, are the indices which signify that the world is in dire need of our prayers during this season,’’ he said.
Pastor Ibe Michael, of Reigning King Church, Dutse, said that the Lenten period was a time for Nigerians to repent and revive their faith in GodHe said that the current crisis bedevilling the country, especially the Boko Haram insurgence, represented a gauge of Nigerians’ faith in God.
Michael stressed that it was wrong for Nigerians to despair because of the insurgency in the North-East, assuring them that God would fight the battle Himself.
“This is a period to raise our hands up to God, ask for forgiveness and beg for His intervention in stopping the bloodletting.
“A nation that trusts in its guns, tanks and armoury cannot achieve total peace; let us use this period to ask God to take over the fight against Boko Haram because a lot of innocent lives have been wasted,’’ he said.
On his part, the Senate President, Sen. David Mark, called for true dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation in efforts to tackle the current security challenges facing the country.
“I will not relent in my call that violence must be stamped out of our society. I strongly condemn the senseless killings of our people, especially innocent children and women, by violent groups.
“I find it extremely difficult to understand why these violent groups would invade schools and open fire on innocent and defenseless students. This is unpardonable and clearly unacceptable,’’ Mark said.
The senate president urged Nigerians to eschew the politics of bitterness in the lead-up to the 2015 polls, adding that they should use the period to fast and pray for peace to return to the country.
On its part, the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), the supreme body of all Islamic organisations in Nigeria, said that fasting was a crucial tool in efforts to seek the face of God.In a letter to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the NSCIA urged all Nigerian Christians to use the Lent to pray for the country.
In the letter, signed by NSCIA’s Secretary General, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, the council described fasting as a basic religious duty in Christianity and Islam.
“A period like this offers us another ample opportunity to make supplications to God and seek His divine blessings afresh for ourselves and our country.
“We pray that Almighty Allah accept the religious duty that will be observed during the period and make its impact manifest positively in the lives of Nigerians in general,” it said.
The NSCIA implored Nigerian Christians to use the Lenten period to strengthen the tenets of peaceful co-existence, as both religions promoted harmonious society.
Mr. Sixtus Ede, a civil servant, said that self-denial and discipline were needed to observe the fasting and prayers associated with the Lenten period.
“Naturally, we Christians tend to relax in our prayers except when we are faced with dire situations but that didn’t start today.
“In the Biblical times, the Israelites always ignored God until a calamity befell them or if an enemy nation was confronting them. However, God always forgave their sins and answered their prayers when they approached Him through fasting and prayers.
“The Nigeria of today seems to have abandoned God through many sinful acts. The continued bloodletting in the North-East is like a thorn in our flesh, which can only be removed by divine intervention.