Praying is good. At least it gives you the psychological relief that you have laid bare your problems or requests and it gives you hope that redemption is on its way.
Jesus Christ, while He was on this earth, taught His disciples how to pray.
The fruit of that lesson is what is commonly called the Lord's Prayer. That, in itself, lends credence to the power of prayer.
Imagine being down and low, wondering where the next meal will come from. Then you pour your feelings out in prayer, leaving the rest to God.
Let us assume that soon after that you hear a knock on your door. As you open it, there, standing before you, is a long lost schoolmate you can hardly recognise who has been living outside the country.
After all the conviviality and cracking of old jokes, this friend takes you out for a good meal and before he bids you farewell he drops $100 note in your palm.
You cannot but believe that God has answered your prayers. Never mind if that friend was already within a few metres from your house when you knelt down to pray.
After all, he could have missed your house or even been diverted by another friend of his.
It will, however, be dangerous or even useless if, after praying, you do not conduct yourself or position yourself in a manner that will allow God's blessings to shower on you.
It is like a driver who, before embarking on a journey, kneels down and prays but fails to change his worn-out tyres.
Or, after praying, the driver decides to drive anyhow because God is in control.
Miracles do happen, but in the two scenarios painted here, there is a big possibility of the driver running into serious trouble that may even result in death, prayers notwithstanding.
As we approach the parliamentary and presidential elections, there are genuine concerns, for obvious reasons, for the security of the state.
The utterances of some people and the physical confrontations between supporters of some political parties in certain parts of the country lend credence to fears that we need to be extra careful to avoid any dislocation in our national equilibrium.
Appeals spearheaded by several civil society organisations and religious bodies have gone to the leadership of the various political parties and their supporters to exercise moderation and exhibit decency in their campaigns.
They have been advised to avoid using inflammatory words that could incite people and trigger a chain of events that could endanger the peace of the nation.
Those more religiously inclined have committed everything to prayer and fasting, seeking divine intervention.
Some churches have organised special services for God's guidance, while imploring members of their congregations to keep praying for the bountiful mercies of the Holy Spirit in these turbulent times.
On Sunday, October 5, 2008, a national thanksgiving service was held at the Independence Square to express our gratitude to God for His kind mercies and to supplicate for peaceful and incident-free elections in December.
That church service was attended by key personalities from all the political parties and other noble men and women who have something to do with the stability of this nation.
But what happens after that? Do we just fold our arms and give everything to God, without applying the rules of natural justice?
While it is good to pray, at least to give us that spiritual and psychological boost, we need to do more to protect our individual and collective integrity and well-being.
This we can do by applying the simple rules that govern parties.
It is no credit to us as a people if we are known to behave like savages when campaigning for political office.
It does not speak well of us to be reminded every time that elections are never over in Africa until a few jaws have been smashed and bones broken.
Why should desperation become the driving force behind political campaigns if the mission is truly to serve this country and make it a better place for all of us?
That behaviour only betrays our hidden intentions for bidding for political office.
Apart from declarations by political leaders of their commitment to peace, there is very little to show that our politicians are actually speaking in the interest of the generality of Ghanaians.
We expect to hear from our aspiring leaders what they will do to solve problems that are real and staring us in the face today, instead of what somebody could not do or did many, many years ago.
We cannot spend all our time trading insults and making baseless accusations when there are a lot of challenges confronting us as a nation.
For a small population like ours, it is sad that we still rely on food imports to feed ourselves.
We do not have any excuse. We have abundant land and enough water resources to make all-year farming possible.
We have people who are ready to take agriculture seriously if only they can get support and direction.
Recently there was this story about rice donation from Japan.
The donation of 8,060 metric tonnes of rice, which was worth US$6 million, formed part of Japan's Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to poor countries such as Ghana to ensure peace and stability in the world.
Should we be excited about that donation? Japan is a cluster of earthquake-prone islands, so why should we be excited about rice donation from such a country when, aggregately, we have more fertile land and a smaller population to feed than Japan?
These are the real issues.
Conditions in our health facilities do not offer us any solace.
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has come to fill a void — no two ways about that. The free medical care for pregnant women is also commendable.
But what about the facilities and the professionals who are to man them. Do we have enough of them?
Can we seriously be proud of our educational system as it is now?
Standards in the public schools are so bad that all the first-class senior high schools are gradually becoming the preserve of BECE candidates from the private schools.
We are watching as if nothing is wrong when we know that most of the leaders of today attended humble schools in their villages but managed to enter Achimota, Prempeh, Mfantsipim, Mawuli, Bishop Herman and other top schools to become what they are today.
The doors to these schools are fast closing in on majority of our children. Not that these senior high schools themselves are in top shape any way.
But at least they are far way ahead of most of the schools that offer sanctuaries to our children, but which may not lead them anywhere. We want to hear how this anomaly will be redressed.
We have on our hands a new breed of armed robbers who are yet to enter their 20s.
Majority of them could be taken off the list if there is a sound policy direction on how to mould our children into useful adults.
Youth and graduate unemployment is a reality that cannot be wished away. The urban centres that held promise for the rural youth in the past are no longer attractive because of overcrowding.
Now the craze is to do everything possible to leave this country.
We still import everything conceivable and export raw materials, which do not fetch much on the international market.
Our towns and cities are engulfed in filth and our streets are jammed with unnecessary traffic. The challenges are many but the remedies seem to be limited.
This is where we expect our politicians to tell us how they are going to address these challenges, not try to outmatch one another in vain promises and outrageous allegations.
There are many things we dream of doing tomorrow that should have been done many years ago.
We are now dreaming of going nuclear by 2015 when there was the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and the Kwabenya Atomic Reactor Project during the days of Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
By now we should have been thinking beyond nuclear! We have suffered from poor leadership and that should be our utmost concern now.
This country has everything to be a tourist paradise, which can bring in foreign cash and give employment to a good number of our people, if only we can add value to what nature has given us.
Yet here we are, always begging for foreign support.
It seems desperation is setting in and we are only being fed with insults on a daily basis.
This country, relative to its size and resources, should not be in this state and so we need a political leadership that will redirect things for the better.
Praying is good, but it is even more important that we remove all obstacles that stand in the way of peace and stability.
That means we cultivate the culture of tolerance, moderation, mutual respect and humility, otherwise even as we are locked up in our chapels speaking in tongues, our homes will be on fire.
The reckless phone-in programmes must cease and the sober and level-headed must take control in directing the affairs of state.
By Kofi Akordor