“Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.” (God the Father to His Son, Psalm 2:8)
“If you don’t pray, nothing happens.” Daryl A., volunteer, Cleveland OH
The fervent prayer of the righteous in Christ can effect much good (James 5:16,) even in the face the violence of Islamic terrorist attacks. We know how to pray, but it always helps to know what to pray. In this article, you’ll read some “what’s” about Islam and the already-documented effects of prayer in Jesus’ name, which we hope will motivate you to ask God persistently to bless entire Muslim families and draw them closer into His loving family.
A member of the IFI staff recounts this story about the power of prayer; it happened when she lived in another country.
“I am in lots of trouble,” said the woman at my door. “Can you help me?” “Please come in,” I answered. “Please sit with me and tell me what is going on.” She quickly listed five God-sized problems. “Oh dear, those are very big burdens you are carrying!” I responded. “I am sorry I don’t know how I can help. But I do know someone who can help you. It’s God. God is big and nothing is impossible for Him. He truly cares about you and all these burdens. He can help you. Would it be all right if I pray to God for you right now and ask Him to help you with each of these problems?” No one had ever prayed for her like this before, but she said yes. I prayed for each problem, then I said, “Now we will wait to see what God does. I will let you know if God shows me ways I can help you.” I gave her a bag of rice. She left, unsure, yet somehow expectant.
About a month later, she returned, holding a paper and pencil. She recounted excitedly how God had solved all of her problems. We thanked God together. She held out the paper and pencil. “Could you write down the prayer you said so that I can read it the next time I have a problem?” I asked, “So you want to be able to pray like I did? To do this you don’t need to memorize or read a prayer. You can talk to God directly. But to do that, you must have access to Him. The barrier of sin between you and God must be removed. Would you like to have that barrier removed so that you can have access to God?” “Yes!” she answered. After I shared the rest of the good news with her, she sat next to me and held my hand as I led her in prayer to turn to God’s son for help.
Hope of Heaven
Like many people, most Muslims look forward to a heaven, or an eternal peaceful life with God after death. The Five Pillars of Islam instructs people on how to get there.
- Reciting the Creed (shahada), “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.”
- Prayer (salat), at five specific times a day
- Giving alms (zakat) to the poor, which is commanded
- Fasting (saum), especially during the month of Ramadan
- Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj), something all Muslims should do, if possible, at least once in their life
Yet faithful, lifelong practice of the Five Pillars still leaves many devout followers unsure of whether or not they will see heaven. Through prayer, we can share love and blessings with those who are struggling with depression, distress and anxiety in their spiritual lives.
6 Areas of Anxiety to Pray For
1. No assurance of heaven.
Even if good deeds outweigh the bad–the Quran teaches that angels weigh both after a person dies–Allah may not admit that person to heaven. This disheartening discovery (no assurance of heaven) can cause a feeling of emptiness or defeat, and a longing for fulfillment.
2. Strife within Islam.
The differences in beliefs and practices within Islam can cause division among Muslims. Islam speaks of a loyal brotherhood, so when violence and oppression breaks out, many are left wondering, “What happened to the promised brotherhood?
3. Peaceful or aggressive?
The horrors being committed by Muslim extremists in the name of Islam makes it difficult for other followers to believe that it is truly a religion of peace. One former Muslim commented, “Muslims… are questioning if this is the true faith and if Allah… is ordering people to kill each other.” A Muslim woman said, “Our sons and daughters do not want to spend time learning about Islam and the Quran when they hear about other Muslims performing terrorist attacks.”
4. Dreams and visions.
A Muslim-background believer pastor says that about 80% of Muslims who have found blessings in Jesus whom he has met in a remote area chose to follow Jesus because He appeared to them in dreams or visions. Most of those dreams or visions are incomplete until the seeker meets a Christ-follower who can explain the meaning of the dream or vision or the seeker finds the meaning in the Bible.
5. Greater access to the Bible.
The world’s religions say that people must do all kinds of things to approach God safely, whereas the Bible says that, through Jesus’ work on the cross, God has done everything needed. Today, the Bible is available in languages spoken by nearly 90% of the world and can be accessed through the Internet, mobile phones, radio, TV, movies such as the JESUS Film, and print. For the first time, countries that do not know about Jesus can read and listen to the Bible in their heart language.
The mass physical movement of refugees from Muslim countries because of war has also made the Bible accessible—starting in refugee camps–and has enabled Muslims to experience the blessings of Jesus in Europe, Lebanon, and the western hemisphere. There has been much in the news lately about these refugees bringing new life to the churches of Europe.
All this has come about as God’s people pray and He answers.
6. The Power of Prayer
As Christians’ awareness of the Muslim world grew, God moved more and more Christians to pray that Muslims would experience the love and blessings from God’s son. In the latter half of the 20th century, God raised up individuals and entire ministries dedicated to getting the good news about God’s blessings in Jesus to Muslims. For example, beginning in 1993 and every year since, WorldChristian.com has raised concerted, focused prayer for Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan through its publication, 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World. Look at what has happened, just since 1993: From the beginning of Islam in the 7th century AD until the end of the 19th century, there have been only 5 documented “movements” (a movement being at least 1,000 persons in one area starting to follow Jesus at the same time) of Muslims towards Jesus—1 in the 10th century, 2 in the 13th, and 2 in the 19th. In the 20th century, there were 11 movements of Muslims to Christ, and so far in the 21st century, there have been 21!* Is all this coincidence? No, it is God’s blessings moving through prayer!
Just as satellite communications cross political and geographic boundaries, so does prayer. Prayer can increase hunger for God, prepare people to hear God’s word and meet God’s family, understand what they encounter, and receive it. Therefore, let’s pray!
What and How to Pray
Instead of praying for “all Muslims,” pray for specific Muslims. Start with Muslims you know: schoolmates, coworkers, neighbors, those you see while shopping. Pray for specific groups of Muslims, for example, all Muslims named Mohammed (that’s 20% of Muslim men!), for every covered woman (40% of Muslims), Muslims under age 18 (50%), Muslims in the U.S., Muslims in refugee camps, Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and Muslim terrorists.
As God moves you, pray that people in any of these groups of Muslims will
- dream of Jesus coming to them and assuring them that He is God’s Son and loves them.
- believe their dream of Jesus is true and obey the message Jesus has spoken to them.
- long to know the one true God and sincerely seek Him. Deuteronomy 4:29 assures that all who seek God wholeheartedly will find Him.
- find God and know that He loves them.
- discover that Jesus is not just a prophet, but the Son of God, who died on the cross for their sins.
- be exposed to and deeply impressed by the relational and personal character of God during interactions with followers of Jesus.
- believe that Jesus has done everything needed to please God for them.
Pray also that God will
- help Muslims to see that the Bible is true (rather than corrupted)
- use the beliefs that Islam and Jesus hold in common to build bridges on which Muslims can approach Jesus and Christians can approach Muslims with God’s truth.
- cause Christians to pray for, befriend, love, and care for Muslims.
- give Christians many opportunities to share their story of how they know Jesus with Muslims.
- raise up Christians to establish international student ministry on campuses where there is none, especially on campuses where many Muslims study.
- empower us to treat the Muslims we know with respect, kindness, and love, as He has commanded us to do.
- win radical Muslims to Jesus through dreams of His enduring, persistent, forgiving love.
- give Muslims opportunities to read and hear the Bible so that they will see that the Bible had not been corrupted.
- move His church to welcome Muslim students and refugees, meet their needs, and show them Jesus.
- give every Muslim a chance to hear the good news about Jesus and the grace to understand it.
Example Prayer Outline
Begin with praise: Our God is far greater and more powerful than anything that divides people groups. In love, He created Muslims for Himself and passionately desires to be close to them.
Proceed to confession: Confess the great good that God has done for you through Christ; confess any fear rather than love that you may have toward Muslims and ask God to respond to your fears one by one, replacing them with love. Confess any unforgiveness toward Muslims, repent of it, and ask God to forgive you.
Thank God for His powerful word and its effects on your life. Thank Him for giving you opportunities to meet Muslims.
Ask God to help you approach Muslims with joy, knowing that they are created in His image, that Jesus died for their sins, and that God loves them. Pray that we will welcome Muslims into our life and home. Pray that, no matter how awkward we might be in our first efforts to befriend Muslim neighbors, schoolmates, and coworkers, they will see Christ in us. Pray that we’ll welcome Muslims into our church families—God’s family.
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.” (John 4:25)
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Some Additional Resources
- “7 Ways To Love People from Honor-Shame Cultures” in this blog
- NQMinistries – YouTube, discussions by Nabeel Qureshi
- Ravi Zacharias on YouTube, A Response to a Muslim and many more presentations; Understanding & Answering Islam 2016: Recap with Abdu Murray, North American Director,
- Adventures in Saying “YES,” A Journey from Fear to Faith by Carl Medearis
- Answering Jihad by Nabeel Qureshi
- Bridges to Islam by Phil Parshall
- Cross-Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer
- Islam and the Bible: Why Two Faiths Collide by David Goldmann
- Muslims, Christians and Jesus by Carl Medearis
- Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
- Simple Ways to Reach Out to Muslims by Carl Medearis
- Speaking of Jesus: the Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis
- Speaking of Jesus Study Guide (First Edition) Workbook – 2013 by Richard Bahr