For thirty days from sunup to sundown, our Muslim friends and neighbors will neither eat nor drink. The most devout won’t even swallow their own saliva during this holy month of fasting called Ramadan.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it commemorates when the prophet Mohammed was believed to have received a revelation from God that became the Quran. This month is considered to be extra holy, and many believe that the good works they do during this month have more merit before God, that it’s the best time to gain entrance into paradise, and that God himself is more apt to forgive sins during Ramadan.
The meaning of the fast varies depending on who you talk to, but it generally is undertaken to demonstrate control over the physical body instead of allowing the body to control the person. In other words, master your cravings instead of letting your cravings master you. Many also add that the fast allows them to relate to the poor and show compassion to them. Still others are truly seeking God’s forgiveness and righteousness. And there are always some who just participate because they are from a Muslim family in a Muslim culture, and it is just what you do. After all, it is one of the five pillars of Islam, so every good Muslim fasts during Ramadan.
Watching Ramadan unfold before my eyes in this culture has been an enlightening and saddening experience. I see people doing their best to earn God’s favor and to merit righteousness, yet they are still unsure if it will ever be enough. It saddens me to see people striving so desperately, yet refusing the belief in Jesus that is able to satisfy what they are seeking.
Most of all, it makes me pray. My prayer is simply…
…that as Muslims seek God in Ramadan, that they will find Jesus.
…that as they read the Quran and the passages in it about Jesus, that they will be stirred to ask questions about his life, teaching, death, and resurrection.
…that Muslims will begin to sense a dissatisfaction with their striving, that they will crave something more, and that they will find the answers they are looking for in Christ.
…that Jesus will manifest himself through dreams, visions, and revelations.
…that we the missionaries and the local believers would be loving and bold enough to witness to Muslims during Ramadan, and that God would give us the timing and the sensitivity and the words to tell of his gospel.
Join me in this prayer not only for the Muslims that I know and love in Burkina Faso and Togo, but for those in many other countries around the world and for the missionaries serving there. Pray also for unreached Muslim people groups, that the Lord would send laborers into his harvest field. God knows the best way into the hearts of his people, and he knows exactly how to touch them in order to open their eyes and draw them to himself. May this Ramadan be the best one yet, the one where Jesus makes himself known in the Muslim world.
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