Naija Christians, please PRAY don’t YELL at God – Viola Okolie

Naija Christians, please PRAY don’t YELL at God – Viola Okolie

My friend, who is not a lawyer, thinks she can have a highly successful career as a magistrate.

Her qualifications?

Four kids.

When you walk into her house sometimes when the kids are in their element, you want to take a minute to conduct a headcount just to make sure that there are indeed just four of the kids there, not like one billion.


She is always judging cases, mediating in matters, advocating in yet some others and sentencing offenders to some form of punishment or the other. She has one rule though in trying to ensure she maintains law and order, they must speak one after the other. No riotous shouting out of arbitrary and random facts that may or may not have any bearing whatsoever on the case at hand; no interruptions and definitely no yelling.

“I need to hear myself think or else, I will just punish all of you at once,” she would scream.

None of her kids wants to serve a punishment intended for the other and so more often than not, they have to stay quiet and take their turns. Kind of like in a real court.

Whenever I am in her house, I like the “no yelling” bit the most. Usually, she pays them absolutely no attention whatsoever while they are yelling and will only speak up to ask them to shut up and carry that noise away from there or else… or else is not a good thing, so more often than not, they shut it!

And these are children.

Which is why I sometimes wonder why adults find the need to congregate in one place and yell, making angry sounds, hopping up and down and contorting their bodies like they are on fire – and call that “praying”.


Which of us who wanted something from their earthly father would walk up to him, call his attention by singing and clapping loudly and banging all sorts of musical instruments, then proceed to yell at him at the tops of our voices? I doubt that if anyone had tried that in their early years, they would have lived long enough to be reading this article. If I know my African fathers well enough, all you need is just that one attempt at foolishness.

You will not yell at your earthly father to get his attention, but you will yell at God.

Is your God deaf?

You encounter misfortunes, maybe an inexplicable death in the family or a loss of a means of livelihood. Maybe an unexpected break up, or just any one of the gazillion and one curve balls life may choose to send your way once in a while, just to check you are still alive and breathing.

Then what do you do? You rush off to church, gather a whole lot of like-minded people like you, and you proceed to shout at God.

It is almost like a mischievous child breaking your best china set and rather than yelling his ears off, you turn to the kind and benevolent godfather you hope will replace those precious pieces for you and begin to shout at him.

For what? Shouldn’t you be shouting at the devil instead? Sometimes, I get the vibe that we respect the devil more than we respect God.

Seriously, why are Christians so noisy?

Why do we feel this need to constantly yell at God, upbraid and reprimand him?

If your boss in the office walks in, everyone tries to maintain a reasonable level of decorum. Except you are ready to lose your job, you do not raise your voice at the boss. That is almost like the singular, most important and unspoken rule of office engagements. For some women, if they need to discuss pressing issues with their husbands, they put on nice clothes, try to look and smell fresh and then wear their sexiest voices. You can hardly make out their voices above a whisper. If your children try to speak all at once in very loud voices, the tendency is that, like my friend, you would yell out at them “can you all just shut up and speak one after the other? I can’t even hear myself think.”

But you gather and shout at God as if you are shouting at your nwa boy. Do you think He can hear Himself think at those points in time how much less the gaggle from the babel screaming and shrieking at Him?

You lay down the rules for Him – you want that brand new car and you want it now now now now now.

You send Him off on silly spite errands to go and “crush your enemy into powder”. For real? He is at your beck and call? And when your enemies don’t die as quickly as you expect, you point fingers in His face and upbraid Him for some unknown angst?

I think that for all we Christians speak about ‘fear” of God, we do not fear Him one little, chinkini bit. I doubt that in the history of religion, there is any God that has been as disrespected as the Christian God has been, yet we want Him to help us judge those who refuse to join us in disrespecting Him.

Nigerian Christians, especially those of the Pentecostal extraction, please find the volume button when you go to worship God and turn all that noise down. Really, really down. Tone it down and speak to Him with all the reverence and awe you reserve in speaking to an earthly father, boss, elder or benefactor.

I remember this “sister” in the university once that would choose 12 midnight for her “quiet time” which was spent yelling and screeching like someone had poked a hot rod up her arse. Why? O gini di?

I also once had the privilege to listen to one of my sister’s friends pray. I had gone visiting my sister in Lagos and her friend who is a missionary was there with her. When I got up to leave, my sister asked her friend to please pray. Now, I am someone who thinks a fifteen minute prayer is 14 minutes too long. This lady took fifteen minutes to pray and in those fifteen minutes, I saw an intimacy that was almost impossible to imagine.

In a very low, quiet voice, she spoke to God like He was sitting right there beside us and she was tabling some issues before Him that she’d like Him to reason with her on. It was so intimate that at a point, I felt I was looking in on a cozy father-daughter moment – uninvited. I felt I was intruding. I have never seen such honest, heartfelt and respectful conduct in talking to God as I had seen on that day.

Sometimes I think I know why Christians belabor the same point over and over again, they scream and yell and approach God with so much disdain and disrespect that He’ll be like:

“Motor ba? Na hin you dey ask me for wey you shape your mouth dey talk like say I be your agemate? You give me motor keep for you? Eejort pikin. No be your fault, na the home training wey you no get nah in dey cause am. Come carry the motor na. Eejort”.

Seriously, reduce all the noise. If God cannot hear Himself think around you especially when you all gather together in one place and spend plenty man hours ranting at Him, He will keep ignoring you.

Don’t just listen for the still, small voice. You can sometimes BE the still, small voice.

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