Archbishop Nicholas Okoh has issued a call that on 7 Nov 2012 Christians fast and pray for a week, seeking divine intervention in aid of Nigeria.
Speaking at a press conference on 31 Oct 2012 in Abuja publicizing the Church of Nigeria’s second Divine Commonwealth Conference at the National Christian Centre in Abuja, the Primate of All Nigeria – Archbishop Okoh – told reporters prayer should be the first response in the battle against terrorism.
"We know that human beings have their part to play, but no matter what we do, except the Lord build the house, the labourers are working in vain,” he said according to the Vanguard newspaper.
"This is why the prayer is very vital. We are not saying those who are given the responsibilities in government should not do it."
The Church of Nigeria observed seven days of fasting and prayer from 28 Nov to 3 Dec 2011 for “the president and the whole country.” Citing Joel 2:25: “So, I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” the archbishop said prayer was the key to national revival
While the Church of Nigeria leans upon the reformed Catholic tradition of the Church of England in its understanding of the purpose of fasting, its doctrine and discipline was molded by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and draws heavily upon the teachings of Evangelical revival.
The Church of Nigeria promotes fasting as spiritual discipline. One Nigerian bishop told AI the church draws upon the teachings of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiæ, which held that fasting was a tool in defeating temptation in the flesh. But the church follows the view of the Protestant reformers and teaches that fasting is not an end or virtuous in itself.
John Wesley wrote that fasting as a form of righteousness was vain. If done without love, it was a form of godliness without the power, since an inwardly motivated religion of the heart was necessary. Fasts proclaimed by the Church of Nigeria were motivated by love of God, love of country and love of “our fellow Nigerians”, the bishop said.
The Church of Nigeria believed that the natural grounds of fasting were sorrow and the burden for sin and as an aid to prayer. By fasting believers might avert the wrath of God’s judgment, or seek his blessings. It was in this spirit the church called Nigeria to fast and pray, he explained.
Fasts were proclaimed by the British and American governments during the Nineteenth century – President Abraham Lincoln authorized the last national period of prayer and fasting during the American Civil War in 1865. Five general fasts were authorized by Parliament in the Nineteenth century in response to a cholera epidemic, the Irish potato famine, two during the Crimean war and the last proclaimed in 1857 during the Indian mutiny.