You know when Memorial Day is, and the Fourth of July. Everyone knows that Christmas falls on December 25. But do you know when Ramadan starts? Unless you’re a Muslim, you probably have no idea.
Observing Ramadan, a month-long time of fasting and seeking God, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Just as Passover and Easter move around depending on the lunar calendar, so does Ramadan. The Islamic calendar is also based on the moon.
This year, Ramadan begins on June 18 and runs through July 17. Our Muslim neighbors will be foregoing food and drink during daylight hours, only breaking their daily fast once the sun goes down. (If they seem a little out of sorts, cut them some slack, okay?) As with Christians, the purpose of this fast is to draw closer to God.
Since 1993, a growing number of Christians use the month of Ramadan as a time to focus on loving and praying for Muslims. “Through prayer, we engage in an act of love for Muslim people around the world—sharing their burdens, understanding their concerns and petitioning God to help them.”*
“Praying during Ramadan is a helpful way for Christians to identify with Muslims. During this time, many Muslims are seeking encounters with God and a better understanding of His ways.”2 We can certainly agree with this goal—and God is happy to answer! Interestingly, it’s not just the Muslims who encounter God. Those praying for them do too.
If you’re wondering just how to pray, a recent speaker at our missions-oriented Sunday school class gave us this list:
- Pray for strongholds to be broken. Islam isn’t just another religion. It’s a spiritual stronghold that has a grip on one-third of the world’s population. Because it’s a spiritual battle, we need to use spiritual weapons. Prayer can accomplish what armies never could.
- Pray they receive compassion. Many Muslims in other countries believe all Americans are Christians. Those who arrive here as refugees often feel that that they’re unwanted and resented. As you can imagine, that leaves them believing that Christians are unwelcoming and even hateful.
- Pray they receive respect. Assume that they have reasons for believing as they do, and that they’re intelligent, thoughtful people desiring to please God. Unfortunately, too many Muslims find themselves belittled for their faith.
- Pray for God to use us. Remember what happened when Jesus told his disciples to pray for workers for the harvest? Yup, he sent them. As we pray for Muslims, we need to be willing for God to use us to show compassion, respect, and friendship.
- Pray for dreams, visions, and miracles. God is already at work—this appears to be one of the primary ways Muslims come to Jesus. In fact, it’s becoming so common that an effective evangelistic method in some Mideast countries is to put an ad in the paper, asking anyone who has had a vision of a man in white to please call a particular phone number! Because Ramadan is a time of heightened spiritual awareness, this is a particularly fruitful strategy.
If you’d like more information on praying for Muslims, get a copy of 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World, published by WorldChristian Concern. This $3.00 booklet has a different prayer topic every day, focused on the diverse aspects of Islam around the world. There’s also a children’s version, 30 Days Muslim Prayer Guide: Just for Kids 2015.
It’s good to pray, and even better of your prayers are specific. For example, Day 22 (July 9) is devoted to the Pattani Malays of Thailand, a Muslim people group numbering around 3.5 million. An interesting blurb describing their culture is followed by three specific prayer requests.
You can learn more, and purchase copies of this booklet, by contacting WorldChristian Concern at WorldChristian.com, www.30DaysPrayer.com, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call them at (719) 442-6409.
* Excerpted from 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World, 2015.