Monday, April 24, 2017

Praying for Muslims

“…Lord, teach us to pray….” Luke 11: part of verse 1

What on earth did I just do? I drove home shocked and in disbelief. When I was visiting my Muslim friend, Fatima, a blind lady walked into her apartment and made herself at home. The blind lady didn’t know any English and I couldn’t speak her language. Fatima told me in English about the sad plight of her blind neighbor. All I could think of doing was to pray for her. Without thinking I asked Fatima to translate my praying to the blind lady and pray after me phrase by phrase. Without objecting Fatima did. Afterwards I thought, oh my goodness, I asked a Muslim woman to pray after me for someone else! Surprisingly, Fatima didn’t close the door on future visits. She actually welcomes prayer any time. God works in mysterious ways.

Every week a new believer and I read a story together from the Young Reader’s Bible story book and discuss it. She doesn’t know much English and I don’t speak her dialect, although I can understand some of the words. She always begins her praying by addressing God in a formal polite way. One day we went over the story of the disciples asking Jesus, “teach us how to pray.” Something clicked when it came time to pray. Out of her mouth came, “dear daddy in heaven” in her dialect, in the most intimate personal way to address a father. Not just once but over and over. It sent shivers down my spine and spread a smile across my face. It was a sacred moment. I thought God must be relishing hearing her prayer just like the moments I heard my children first utter, “mommy” or my grandchildren say, “grandma”. They know me, I responded in delight.

I spent only six months with a wealthy fashionable Muslim lady before she went back to her country. She had a huge appetite to know everything about Christianity that she had been deprived of finding out. Her longing to be prayed for was obvious. One time after I prayed for her she sat there unmoveable, like in a trance. She was lifted up to the heavenly realms or something. I ended my prayer but she wouldn’t “come to”, so I continued on and ended it a second time. We went through the third round. Wow, what happened to her? I wondered. So, I just sat quietly with her until she “came to.” She had been caught up in the wonder of praying personally to our Father in heaven.

Amal was distressed knowing she could lose her baby. She asked me to pray for her. The situation was actually quite serious and my faith wavered. I prayed a weak prayer. She must have sensed it was weak because after my prayer Amal said, "Joy, now pray again and this time put your hand on my abdomen."Exercising more faith a second time, I did what she said. She needed to hear more faith and boldness. Praise God Amal did deliver a healthy baby. Praying for my Muslim friends has stretched my faith big time. Many times I have begged God to teach me how to pray.

I have been altered praying with Muslims and believers from Muslim background. All the clichés and jargon have had to go. When they don’t know much English I have had to learn how to pray in the simplest way possible. Sometimes I feel reduced to speaking like a child. I’ve done it for so long now and so often that my praying has changed. The Holy Spirit has taught me how to pray personally but He has also taught me how to pray for Muslims and new believers. There’s no end to learning. Teach me more, Lord.

Dear heavenly Father, please keep teaching me how to pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Secret of Effective Evangelism

"After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they preached God’s message with boldness.” Acts 4:31

There’s one thing I will never forget about mom and dad who engaged in ministry among Somalis for fifty years. They prayed alot. I can still hear dad praying with large faith "Jehovah Sabaoth..." He often addressed God like that. A colleague remarked that it sounded like he was moving the armies of God into action. Dad's praying has had a lasting influence on my life. From childhood I caught it that there must be something very important about prayer.

Sharing Christ with Muslims is a huge challenge. We are confronted with things we haven't encountered before. We are not on an enchanting cultural exchange program or only a humanitarian mission, but entering a spiritual battle for truth.  We want to see breakthroughs and victories. There's only one thing a person can do... pray. It would be unwise to visit my Muslim friends without first spending time in prayer. I ask the Holy Spirit to awaken their souls, cause questions to arise, stir up a longing to know God, remove misconceptions and lies, give them a yearning to read the Word, convict them of sin and righteousness, destroy deceptions and superstitions, bind up fears which keep some of them entrenched in occultic activities and let the light and truth shine.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me boldness, grace, and love and to direct our conversations.  But above all to be able to exalt the name of Jesus Christ.  As a result of praying strongholds  start coming down little by little over the weeks, months, years, and decades.

I’ve been praying earnestly for Layla these days. Without prayer nothing spiritually is going to budge in Layla's soul. Her life is secure and stable and focused on fulfilling the requirements of Islam and gaining Allah’s approval for correct behavior. Recently she mentioned that her relatives were planning on going on the Umrah. I asked her if she had ever gone on the Umrah. She had so I asked her questions about what all happened and why she did certain things on it. She had never thought about the reason for cutting off a little bit of her hair or why she walked seven times around Allah’s house or did the Sa’i ritual walk. After that I asked her if she could tell me the story of Hagar but, looking unsure of the details, she urged, “You tell me.” I was more than happy to do that as it provided a wonderful opportunity to share how God sees her, cares about her and can help her with her problems. It was the beginning of a breakthrough in discussing soul issues. I doubt our conversation would have opened up if I hadn’t spent time in prayer. Praying is the secret of effective evangelism. It prepares us. It prepares the Muslim.  God will surely release His power.

Dear heavenly Father, I am amazed how You work when I pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.