And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. (Jonah 3:5)
As the world continues to look for a vaccine for Covid-19, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has realised the importance of spiritual warfare so as to conquer the global pandemic.
On Monday, the whole country came together to pray and fast for the nation. Zimbabwe is among countries such as United States of America, Brazil, South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania that have set dates for prayers against the contagious disease that has claimed millions of lives across the globe.
Zimbabwe is a religious nation that has large followings in Christianity, African Tradition and Islam.
The National Day of Prayer and Fasting was well represented as witnessed by the presence of leaders of faith from various religions at the State House in Harare.
Leading the nation on the Presidential National Day of Prayer and Fasting, which was attended by senior Government and church officials, President Mnangagwa said praying for the nation is now the New Dispensation’s life blood.
“The issue of prayer is not really new. When the New Dispensation came into office, we introduced prayers before and after Cabinet meetings, so we are used to prayer.
“We are mindful that the Bible encourages use to pray without ceasing for this is the will of our heavenly Father (1 Thessalonians 5 v 17),” said President Mnangagwa.
The Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, led the prayers in the province.
The National Day of Prayer and Fasting was inspired by the Bible, specifically 2 Chronicles 7 v 13-15, which urges the nation to humble itself and call upon the Lord to save it from pestilence.
Said the President: “Today we came boldly before the heavenly throne of grace, standing on His Word.
“We are therefore gathered in prayer in the total belief that the Word of God is true, for heaven and earth shall pass away but His Word shall remain, as written in Matthew 24 v 25.”
In his prayer, the President pleaded with God for forgiveness for the nation. He asked for mercy, good health, healing and wisdom in the face of the Covid-19.
Speaking at the same event, Master of Ceremony Reverend Andrew Wutawunashe said, “In my 40 years as a preacher, I have never heard of a Head of State who stands on the Scriptures. We are grateful to have a President who stands on the Scriptures, one who calls on us to pray in these trying times,” said Reverend Wutawunashe.
The holy call was widely welcomed throughout the country as various church denominations, families, community leaders and other civil societies joined the Head of State and Government in prayer.
Chief Donald Ngani Mutambara of Mutambara village in Chimanimani described national prayer as noble and crucial.
“This is a noble initiative, I believe God is going to answer our prayers. When we pray against this disease which has brought suffering to the nation, the Almighty hears us.
“We also thank the President for allowing churches to resume with all the precautionary measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. Due to a closure of the churches, there had been an increase in domestic violence and theft. People of weaker faith had been affected spiritually,” said Chief Mutambara.
He went on to challenge people to shun politicising the National Day of Prayer and Fasting.
“I urge people to join hands and continue praying for the nation. They should put political issues aside. We need to pray for the development of the country,” Chief Mutambara said.
A Chimanimani villager, Save Mutore, also welcomed the President’s call for prayer and the resumption of church services.
“I’m very happy. I believe the prayers will save the nation from Covid-19. As a Christian community, we are happy to have a President who knows God. We will continue to join him to pray for our country,” she said.
While most churches have been streaming services online, it has been difficult for churches in rural areas to do that as most congregates cannot afford to buy data.
Reverend Benny Mhlanga of the Apostolic Faith Church (Mugodhi) in Mutambara village highlighted the importance of fasting and praying. He also described the President as the biblical King of Nineveh.
“The President gave us the chance to pray for our country. When Jonah was sent with a message that Nineveh was going to be destroyed, the spiritual leader of Nineveh humbled himself, just like what the President did, by calling on all the people to pray and fast. They prayed so that God could save them from destruction.
“The President has shown spiritual leadership by humbling himself and acknowledged that above all, God is great and should be worshipped by the nation. He should continue proclaiming these national prayer days,” Reverend Mhlanga said.
He urged people to keep praying for the country.
“People should not stop praying, even after the national day of prayer. God said I will hear all those who worship me in spirit and truth and save them from their troubles,” he said.
Madzibaba Leeshad Mukundu of the Johanne eChishanu apostolic sect said the call for national prayers is a divine revelation.
“The President was guided by God to take this step. Fasting is looking for a divine light. Fasting is a sense of humbling ourselves before God to help us,” said Madzibaba Mukundu.
Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe Pastor Richman Majoni admired the President’s spiritual leadership.
“He is an exemplary leader who realises that there’s need to call God during such times. He acted like a father and showed no partiality with regards to the religions in this country.
“He is very caring and compassionate,” said Pastor Majoni.
Divine Connection Church Pastor Takesure Mlambo described the National Day of Prayer and Fasting as a powerful way of dealing with the country’s problems.
“Whenever people meet to pray, results will come. What matters most is the hearts of the people who are praying because God looks at the heart. He surely gives positive results,” said Pastor Mlambo.
“From day one, we never took a break from praying as a church. Therefore joining the President on the National Day of Prayer and Fasting was a continuation of what we have been doing. However, this was really good as it was on a national level,” said Pastor Mlambo.
Traditionalist Morgan Pondai said believers from various religions should pray for the nation.
“This is a national issue and everyone is affected, regardless of your religious beliefs. Historically, when people encountered such pandemics our forefathers would worship their ancestors and they would be saved,” he said.
“It is never too late for God. The time belongs to Him, this call came on time,” said Pondai
A theologian, Dr Fairchild Siyawamwaya, said praying and fasting is crucial in any religious society.
“In the Bible, God said I shall bring disease, some of them incurable. Fasting by its nature has the potential to make God save the society.
Dr Siyawamwaya also insisted on the need for inter-religious national prayers.
“As a theologian, I promote ecumenism, where we have all people from different walks of life praying together, including those from the African Traditional religion.”
A Chimanimani Islamic patron Alicenje Majawa said the prayer was timeous.
“We thank the President for recognising the role of prayer in everyone’s faith and beliefs.
We believe our prayers will be answered,” she said.