Muslim man in prayer
Come near to God
and He will come near to you.
As Christians, we are constantly encouraged to pray to God, seeking His face and fully expecting that we will hear from Him. Our Heavenly Father is just that…a Father who delights to hear from His children and who desires to speak to them, telling them what is important to Him and what He wants them to do.
If a Christian says he or she is in a “desert time, ” it usually means that we are going through a time in our spiritual walk with Christ when we aren’t hearing from God for some reason. This “desert time” can be a time of growth and greater obedience to God but it is also a time that we want to leave behind as quickly as possible.
But…what if your religion was “desert time” all the time? What if you not only never heard from God but that you were not taught or expected to hear from God? What kind of relationship would you then have with God?…none.
Yet that “desert time” describes the world of Islam.
I have always viewed the prayer times of the Muslims (five times a day with special emphasis on Fridays) as a time similar to my times of prayer…communication between me and God and between God and me…two-way communication, when I pour out my heart to God and He hears me and answers me whether through the small, inner voice within me, through His Word or through other people. But this is not how a Muslim would describe his or her time of prayer.
The following words are from The 30-Days Prayer Network which seeks to educate Christians on Islam and on how to pray for Muslims, especially during their holy time of Ramadan.
“Muslims do not think of communion with God, knowing God or hearing from God, as being part of their normal prayer experience. In Islam, normal daily prayer is a focused ritual exercise which is an expression of worship and honour toward Allah. Personal requests are possible in Islam but the formal ritual prayers are definitely the most important prayer activity for Muslims.
Prayer in Islam is generally not meant to bring one’s self into direct personal contact or communion with Allah. Even when Muslims speak of prayer as communication with Allah they are never thinking that Allah will actually speak back to them. The communication is always one way.
In the very small Sufi Muslim minority one can speak of meeting God. However, beliefs and practices among Sufis place the emphasis more on being submerged in the divine than knowing God in a communication oriented and relational sense. Among believers in the Messiah, knowing God in a relational sense is a key aspect of the faith John 17:3.
According to orthodox Islam God never speaks to humans directly and actually he has not even spoken to anyone indirectly (through angels) since the time of Mohammed. Muslims universally believe that Mohammed was the last and the greatest of the prophets. According to them Mohammed brought the final spoken revelation from God which eventually became the book we know as the Qur’an.
Prayer is encouraged as a means of restraining Muslims from social wrongs and moral deviancy. According to a traditional saying, Mohammed when asked, “What is the best deed?” He replied, “To offer prayers at their fixed times.” When asked again, “What is next in goodness?” He replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents.” When asked again, “What is next in goodness?” He replied, “To participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.” Prayer is often seen as a meritorious activity in Islam.”
A friend who is a Christian pastor in Iraq echoed the same idea when I asked him about fasting during Ramadan. Pastor Malath said: “I think what you need to know about Islam is that fasting in Islam is mandatory, and the one who fasts will get so much rewards…like Allah will forgive his/her sin. It is like a new begging. During this month, the people try to read the whole Quraan and do some good deeds more than any other month for it would help them to save rewards for heaven.”
In light of that, when Muslims do hear from God through visions and dreams, see Dreams of Muslims, it really rocks their world.
May we pray all the more that the Muslims throughout the world, during this time of Ramadan and afterwards, will truly hear from God. That they will experience Him in a way that changes their lives. That they will see a God who wants to hear from them but just as importantly, wants them to hear from Him.
Praise God that we serve a God who desires a personal relationship with us; “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13